BetterHelp Review 2023: Survey Results and Our Experience
This content is researched and written based on extensive testing by an external reviews team and does not reflect the views or opinions of Everyday Health’s editorial team. Everyday Health may earn a commission from purchases of products featured in this article.
BetterHelp is the largest online therapy platform with an extensive network of over 30,000 licensed therapists throughout the United States. It was our pick for the best customer experience in our review of the best online therapy services of 2023. Our BetterHelp review will cover everything you need to know to decide whether the service is right for you.
BetterHelp online therapy is a great option for people seeking affordable therapy, especially if they don’t have insurance. It’s also helpful for people with mobility issues or busy schedules, and those who live in areas where there aren’t enough therapists to meet local demand. But is BetterHelp worth it compared with other online therapy companies? We'll walk you through it.
We decided to put BetterHelp to the test. Our online therapy reviews team evaluated the platform by signing up, trying to find a therapist that fit their preferences, investigating its billing practices, comparing it with other teletherapy services, and reading customer reviews to see what people did and didn’t like about it. We gave BetterHelp 4 out of 5 stars based on factors like cost, features, user experience, and customer service compared with other online therapy platforms.
Use BetterHelp promo code "everydayhealth" for 20 percent off your first month.
Why You Can Trust Our BetterHelp Review
We independently investigate and recommend products and services we believe will enrich the lives of our readers and meet their specific needs. We’ve spent many hours carrying out in-depth research on the online therapy market. You can trust our review because we did the legwork for you in these specific ways:
- Engaged in ongoing independent research
- Spent over 245 hours testing eight brands, surveyed over 200 participants each, and interviewed focus groups
- Went behind the paywall for two months with eight brands to mystery shop our best online therapy choices
- Contacted brands’ customer service teams to ask questions and gauge responsiveness
- Consulted six leading psychologists and psychiatrists
- Became customers of online therapy providers ourselves
- Reviewed academic research about the efficacy of online therapy versus in-person therapy
- Read hundreds of verified customer reviews from trusted third parties such as BBB and Trustpilot
Pros and Cons of BetterHelp Online Therapy
- Extensive network of over 30,000 therapists
- Can preview the software and your therapist match before subscribing
- Communication available online or through the mobile app, which is compatible with iOS and Android
- Financial aid available for those who qualify
- No long-term contracts; cancel anytime
- Upfront pricing
- Does not accept insurance
- Does not accept Medicare or Medicaid
- Counselors cannot diagnose mental health conditions
- No access to an MD for prescription needs
How Does BetterHelp Work?
BetterHelp is an online counseling platform that connects users with a licensed, experienced therapist for remote teletherapy sessions. Virtual visits are conducted on your time and in the convenience of your home, car, or wherever you like via live video, phone, or chat sessions.
BetterHelp works for those looking for general mental health counseling or therapy for a diagnosed mental health disorder. How long you stay with BetterHelp depends on your mental health needs, budget, and lifestyle. This could equate to a few weeks, a few months, or an extended period of several months. According to our reviews team’s April 2022 survey of 1,000 online therapy users, most BetterHelp customers (38 percent) used the service for four to eight months. Of the rest, 24 percent used it for eight to 12 months, 23 percent used it for four months or less, and 15 percent used it for at least one year.
You can access the BetterHelp platform via its website or its mobile app, which you can use to manage your account, schedule appointments with your online therapist, and contact customer service.
Therapy Session Format
The weekly subscription cost for BetterHelp online therapy includes unlimited messaging and one live chat, phone, or video session per week, which gives you the freedom to choose the telehealth format that works best for you. Some people change the format each week depending on their mental health needs.
In general, each live session lasts about 30 to 45 minutes. The exact session length will be determined by both you and your therapist, though BetterHelp confirmed with our reviews team that the average session length is 30 minutes.
We surveyed 200 BetterHelp users in January 2023 and found that 39.5 percent of respondents spent 15 to 30 minutes in their initial therapy appointment and 31 percent spent 30 to 45 minutes in the initial session. For therapy sessions after an initial appointment, 35 percent spent 15 to 30 minutes in a session and 39.5 percent spent 30 to 45 minutes in a session.
With BetterHelp online therapy, messaging is not a real-time form of communication like video. Instead, it works like email. It’s available 24 hours a day, but that doesn't mean your BetterHelp counselor will respond right away. In fact, according to our reviews team’s online therapy survey, only 50 percent of BetterHelp users received a response within a day. Of the rest, 17 percent received responses within a few days, 25 percent received responses within a week, and 8 percent said it regularly took more than a week for their therapist to respond. Your therapist will work with you to establish when and how often they will reply to messages.
You will receive an email when your counselor sends you a message. Messaging can be a convenient feature between live video, phone, or chat sessions when you have a quick question or need to check in with your therapist. It also creates an ongoing conversation you can reference at any time.
BetterHelp also allows you to “shred” messages you send to your therapist. Once shredded, it will no longer be visible in your account.
Live Chat Sessions
The live chat sessions on the BetterHelp online therapy platform are a lot like text messaging. You will be in an online therapy room with your BetterHelp counselor, and you’ll both be able to type questions and responses. Live chat can be a good option for users who prefer text over live video or phone sessions.
Plus, you can always go back and read over the conversation, since the chat session will remain in the therapy room until you cancel your subscription.
Live Phone Sessions
You can schedule a live phone session with your counselor the same way you schedule a chat or video appointment on the BetterHelp app. Some people prefer the convenience of this communication method.
If you choose to speak with your therapist over the phone, you will log in to your therapy room at your scheduled time. Once logged in, your therapist will prompt you to start the phone session, and the system will request your phone number. The system will dial your number, and once you answer, it will connect you with your therapist to start the phone session.
Live Video Sessions
The closest thing to an in-person counseling session is a live video appointment. As with chat and phone sessions, you need to schedule a video therapy session with your therapist. You will meet via video through your online counseling room. According to our reviews team’s online therapy survey, 66 percent of BetterHelp members used its video therapy option. The second most popular option was live chat, followed by phone therapy.
BetterHelp users are able to join group sessions once a week, which are therapist-led group support sessions on different mental health-related topics. Once you sign up for a membership, you'll have access to a calendar that displays the sessions and topics for the week, including communication skill-building, identifying unhealthy behaviors, and building resiliency, among others.
Group sessions are 90 minutes and have 5 to 18 participants. According to our January 2023 survey of 200 BetterHelp users, 79 percent attended a group session at least every other week and 47.5 percent attended weekly.
We gave group sessions a try. When our reviews team tester attended a group session, they had a mixed experience interacting with a support group virtually. Although the attendees could express their support through emoji reactions on the Zoom call, our tester found it wasn’t as easy to jump in and respond to a group member immediately through the virtual setting.
Compare BetterHelp With Other Online Therapy Options
*Cost may be higher based on your preferences, location, and therapy availability.
BetterHelp was created by entrepreneur and investor Alan Matas after an unsuccessful attempt to find accessible and affordable professional therapy. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) (PDF), 46 percent of people with an unmet need for mental health services didn’t receive treatment because they couldn’t afford it.
By May of 2013, Matas created the first iteration of BetterHelp, a website focused on providing convenient, discreet, and affordable online mental health care for all. BetterHelp has since expanded and now owns specialty sites dedicated to helping specific audiences. ReGain offers counseling for couples, Teen Counseling offers counseling for teens ages 13 to 19, and Pride Counseling offers counseling for LGBTQ+ individuals.
What's the BetterHelp Enrollment Process?
We were impressed with the BetterHelp mental health subscription service's straightforward enrollment process. Here’s how it works:
- First, you’ll complete a short questionnaire designed to match you with the right therapist. It took our reviews team an average of seven minutes to fill out.
- You’ll be prompted to choose between individual, couples, or teen counseling. If you choose couples therapy, BetterHelp will direct you to its specialty site, ReGain, a mental health platform for couples therapy. If you choose teen therapy, it will direct you to its site, Teen Counseling, a mental health platform for teens ages 13 to 19. BetterHelp operates both Teen Counseling and ReGain.
- Enter your personal details, such as gender, age, your preferred sexual identity, relationship status, and other information.
- You’ll have a chance to identify any areas of concern and provide input about lifestyle factors such as sleep habits, diet, stress, and energy levels, whether you’re experiencing depression or anxiety, and more.
- You can also specify what you’re looking for in a counselor, such as a therapist experienced in trauma or grief, LGBTQ+ matters, anxiety, or depression.
- Once you’ve completed the questionnaire, you’ll enter your first name, email address, telephone number, and password to set up your account.
- Your subscription won’t begin, and you don’t need to input any payment information, until you are matched with a therapist and click the Subscribe button indicating that you want to start therapy.
BetterHelp Counselor Matching
BetterHelp uses an algorithm to match you with a therapist and sends you an email once you’re matched. According to its FAQ page, it can take a few hours or a few days to get matched with a therapist on BetterHelp, depending on therapist availability. Your subscription won’t begin, and you don’t need to input any payment information, until you are matched with a therapist and click the Subscribe button indicating that you want to start therapy.
If you feel the algorithmic approach didn't provide a successful match, you can request to change counselors by selecting Change Therapist on your profile page. When our reviews team conducted in-depth interviews with online therapy users, one of our focus group participants said that they switched therapists for a month before finding the right provider fit. According to our survey of BetterHelp users, 77 percent of the respondents switched therapists, and 67 percent of those who switched found it convenient and easy to do so.
You can also use the Find a Therapist feature on the BetterHelp website. Once there, you can search for therapists in your area. Your results page will include the names, bios, credentials, and experience of each potential therapist.
Types of Counseling Services BetterHelp Offers
BetterHelp does not focus on one particular style of counseling. Instead, it relies on the therapist to determine the best modality for your needs, whether you’re interested in online therapy for anxiety, depression, or any other mental health concerns. That said, all BetterHelp counselors have specialized training in specific types of counseling. Some of the more common treatment methods include:
- Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)
- Mindfulness therapy
- Emotionally focused therapy (EFT)
- Solution-focused therapy
- Trauma-focused therapy
- Acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT)
- Motivational interviewing
- Dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT)
- Client-centered therapy
- Psychodynamic therapy
- Family therapy
BetterHelp will match you with a therapist based on your individual needs. BetterHelp therapists have a wide range of specialties, including:
- Relationship issues
- LGBTQ+ matters
- Anger management
- Eating issues
- Family conflict
- Sleep difficulties
- Career difficulties
- Coping with life changes
- Intimacy-related issues
Can BetterHelp Prescribe Medication?
No, BetterHelp therapists cannot prescribe medication. Though BetterHelp employs mental health professionals with master's and doctorate degrees, only psychiatrists, who hold medical degrees, can prescribe.
Can BetterHelp Diagnose Mental Health Conditions?
No, BetterHelp therapists do not diagnose mental health conditions. Even though BetterHelp therapists are licensed mental health professionals with advanced degrees who are permitted to diagnose, BetterHelp does not authorize diagnosing through its platform.
How Much Does BetterHelp Cost?
The cost of a BetterHelp counseling subscription ranges from $240 to $360 per month, but BetterHelp notes that the cost will depend on your preferences, location, and the availability of therapists who are licensed in your state. You are required to pay upfront for your first four weeks and will be billed monthly afterwards. You can pay with a credit card or PayPal on a recurring basis.
Does BetterHelp Take Insurance?
BetterHelp does not accept private insurance, Medicare, or Medicaid. While BetterHelp does not bill insurance providers directly, you can download an itemized invoice to submit claims to your insurance for reimbursement. Your exact reimbursement will depend on your insurance coverage. In our survey of BetterHelp users, 93 percent of respondents indicated that they had health insurance. In the same survey, respondents ranked “a platform that accepts my insurance” as the most important feature of an online therapy platform. The survey also found that 44 percent of respondents used their Flexible Spending Account (FSA) or Health Savings Account (HSA) funds to help pay for BetterHelp. In-person and online therapy like BetterHelp is an eligible expense under most HSA/FSA providers.
Call the phone number on the back of your insurance card to see if your health plan will reimburse online mental health services before signing up. BetterHelp provides financial aid for those who are eligible.
BetterHelp Financial Aid
If the cost of BetterHelp is an issue, consider applying for financial aid. BetterHelp offers financial assistance or a reduced weekly rate for those who qualify, including students, veterans, and those on subsidized government programs like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). BetterHelp will prompt you to check your eligibility for financial aid before paying. The financial aid form can only be accessed by subscribers and includes questions about your employment status, monthly income, military status, and number of dependents.
Once you submit your form, the next screen will show you the price you’ll be expected to pay as well as any discounts. Your discount will apply to your next three months, and you can reapply after that. BetterHelp will communicate with you over email when it’s time to reapply for financial aid. You can reapply as early as seven days before your financial aid expires.
Our Experience With BetterHelp
Our reviews team mystery shopped BetterHelp for more than two months. We attended weeks of online therapy, switched therapists to understand the different experiences on BetterHelp, and contacted customer service about the issues we experienced. We also tried out its guided journaling feature, filled out worksheets from our therapist, and spent hours in virtual support groups. We tried the BetterHelp platform on both laptops and smartphones.
Our Experience Using BetterHelp: The Positives
There were many positives to our BetterHelp experience, including the expertise of the therapists, the community and connection we found through its support groups, and the ease of using its iPhone app. One of the greatest benefits of BetterHelp is how accommodating its customer service team is about the payment due date. For example, if you’re leaving for vacation, you can contact customer service, tell them the dates you’ll be gone, and ask for your payment due date to be pushed out to reflect that. Our reviews team first reached out to customer service to see if they could push out our payment due date by a few days and then asked for it to be pushed out by more than two weeks. On both occasions, the team responded within 36 hours over email to confirm that they extended our subscription by the dates we requested.
Another important factor in our experience with BetterHelp was switching therapists. BetterHelp makes this process very easy. It only takes a few minutes to fill out a short multiple-choice form about your experience with the previous therapist and what gender, age, or specialty you want in your next one. Once you submit this form, you can scroll through dozens of therapist profiles, read their bios, check their usual availability Monday through Sunday, and verify that they have the background and years of experience you need. While BetterHelp suggests the top ten therapists for you based on the answers in your form, you can also scroll past these suggestions to see more profiles. You can switch therapists at any time as often as you want to find the right therapist.
Our Experience Using BetterHelp: The Downsides
There were a few drawbacks to our BetterHelp experience, too. While customer service responded quickly and thoroughly to billing questions, its responses to technical questions were not as thorough. We scheduled an audio therapy session, but when we logged on at the appointment time we found that the session was over video and couldn’t figure out how to fix it. We filed a question about this through the “Help” section of the account after the session, but the email response from customer service didn’t explain whether this was an issue with how we scheduled the appointment, something on the therapist’s side, or something else entirely.
Another drawback was the variability in how many appointment slots therapists have each week. We could always find openings with the first therapist we matched with in the next few days, and she even offered appointments on weekends. Our next therapist was completely booked for the next two weeks, though she would have openings pop up if another user canceled. While you can see the hours therapists keep in the therapist switching process, there’s no way to check how busy they are during these hours.
BetterHelp Reviews From Real Customers
Positive BetterHelp Reviews From Real People
At the time this article was published, BetterHelp had 4.06 out of 5 stars from the BBB. It’s an accredited company but currently does not have a BBB rating. According to the BBB, they will not rate companies if there is an ongoing review or update on a business, or if they have insufficient information. BetterHelp had addressed 173 complaints over the last 12 months.
Positive customer reviews of BetterHelp on the BBB mention the easy-to-use app, that it was simple to switch therapists, and the ability to make appointments that fit with their schedule.
On Trustpilot, BetterHelp gets 4.6 out of 5 stars, with over 5,000 customer reviews at the time this article was published. Many BetterHelp therapist reviews are positive and note excellent customer service and satisfaction.
“Great easy-to-use app. Was very fortunate to find a wonderful therapist to work with. Love the convenience of having after-work and weekend appointments.”
— INES T., VERIFIED CUSTOMER (REVIEW FROM BBB.ORG)
“BetterHelp made it so easy to register and find a suitable therapist, and customer services were very quick to reply and willing to help. My therapist was really easy to connect with, she was non-judgmental and very empathic. I would recommend this service to anyone in need of a good listener, tools to tackle low mood and low self-esteem.”
— ASIYA Z., VERIFIED CUSTOMER (REVIEW FROM BBB.ORG)
“The first therapist I was seeing incorporated a method that was creating more frustration for me than it was solving. BetterHelp allowed me to easily switch therapists, and I found one that makes me feel heard and validated and is helping me. I’m very happy with this service and would very much recommend this site as a source of help.”
— CHELSEA F., VERIFIED CUSTOMER (REVIEW FROM TRUSTPILOT.COM)
Negative BetterHelp Reviews From Real People
Many negative customer reviews of BetterHelp on the BBB refer to billing issues, subscription prices, and lack of contact with therapists. Some customers complain about difficulties connecting with customer service due to the lack of phone support. There are also complaints about counselors canceling appointments at the last minute.
On Trustpilot, negative reviews mention billing problems and difficulty connecting with therapists. There are also complaints about the BetterHelp app not working properly.
“No customer service available. Took $64 out of my HSA without any counseling service provided. Canceled subscription before appointment and canceled appointment. I would like a refund but I haven't been able to reach anyone.”
— MARY H., VERIFIED CUSTOMER (REVIEW FROM BBB.ORG)
Expertise of BetterHelp Counselors
BetterHelp counselors are experienced, licensed, accredited, and required to have at least three years of experience and a minimum of 1,000 hours of hands-on experience. They consist of psychologists (PsyD, PhD), clinical social workers (LCSW, LMSW), marriage and family therapists (LMFT), mental health counselors (LMHC, LCMHC), and licensed professional counselors (LPC).
BetterHelp therapists must be certified by their state and hold a master's degree or doctorate in their field. Additionally, BetterHelp lists therapists and their credentials, licensing information, and experience.
BetterHelp Customer Service
BetterHelp has a few communication channels available if you have questions. You can:
- Email your concerns to firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Fill out a form located on its website.
- Call its customer service line at 888-688-9296.
If you’re unsatisfied with your BetterHelp experience, you may be eligible for compensation. Begin the refund process by writing to email@example.com and explaining your situation, including why you aren’t satisfied and how much compensation you need. If accepted, BetterHelp will ask you to call a representative at 888-688-9296. BetterHelp provides refunds on a case-by-case basis.
To cancel your BetterHelp membership, log in to your BetterHelp account. Navigate to the menu, select “My Account,” click “Payment Settings,” and then select “Quit Therapy.” You need to cancel your membership before the next billing cycle to avoid being charged. If you’ve prepaid for unused appointments, you can contact BetterHelp customer service to see if you qualify for a refund.
You can also temporarily pause your BetterHelp membership. Simply contact the BetterHelp Member Success team with the exact dates you’re looking to pause your membership. If you don’t know the exact dates you’ll be away, you can temporarily cancel your membership and pick back up where you left off when you’re ready.
Our survey of BetterHelp users indicated that 74 percent of respondents had their customer service issues resolved within a business day.
The Bottom Line
We recommend BetterHelp for its large network of therapists, flexible contracts, and excellent customer service. Users seem to agree. They appreciate its:
- Live audio and video sessions
- Unlimited messaging
- User-friendly interface
- Financial assistance
- Convenience, with a network of more than 30,000 therapists
The sign-up process takes less than 10 minutes, and our reviews team received counselor matches on multiple accounts in less than 24 hours. While some of the matches didn’t meet all of our therapist preferences, there was a clear attempt to balance our requested specialty areas and therapist attributes, like a non-religious therapist or one 45 or older.
BetterHelp counselors aim to reach out within 24 hours of your match. If you’re unhappy with your therapist, whether that’s before starting therapy or after a few sessions, BetterHelp makes it easy to switch. You can also see your therapist match and switch therapists before paying.
We also liked BetterHelp because of its overwhelmingly positive reviews online, including on Trustpilot and BBB.
In Emergency Situations
If you are in crisis, waiting for an online therapy appointment is not be safe. In case of an emergency, call 911. That includes plans to harm yourself or others. If you’re having suicidal thoughts, you can call the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline by dialing 988. Help is available 24/7.
You can also reach out to the SAMHSA National Helpline at 800-662-HELP (4357). The SAMHSA helpline is a free, confidential, 24/7, 365-days-a-year treatment referral and information service for individuals facing mental or substance abuse disorders.
Frequently Asked Questions
Editorial Sources and Fact-Checking
- Online Therapy Survey. 1,000 respondents. Conducted using Pollfish. Launched April 11, 2022.
- Germain T. Mental Health Apps Aren’t All as Private as You May Think. Consumer Reports. March 2, 2021.
- National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 2019 and Quarters 1 and 4, 2020 [PDF]. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.
- Warren E, Booker C, Wyden R. Letter to Alon Matas. U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts. June 22, 2022.
- BetterHelp Survey. 200 respondents. Conducted Using Pollfish. Launched January 9, 2023.
- Online Therapy Focus Group: Current Online Therapy Users. Nine Participants. Conducted Using Google Meet. January 25, 2023.