What is BetterHelp?
If you’re in need of therapy, and can’t make it to a therapist in person, BetterHelp is key! With BetterHelp, you can see a therapist on your time and not worry about being late, copays, or a waiting room.
To help you best identify whether BetterHelp would be supportive to your needs, consider this review. You won’t regret it!
How does BetterHelp work?
BetterHelp works by connecting you to a licensed therapist who specializes in the issues you’re having.
You will not be connected with someone who has a limited license. BetterHelp will only partner with therapists who are fully credentialed.
To connect with your therapist, there is a series of questions that you’ll answer after signing up. They are targeted to get to the heart of your issues.
Within 24 hours of signing up, you’ll have a therapist assigned to you. From there, you all will discuss how and when you’ll connect.
Privacy and Confidentiality
Privacy and confidentiality are very serious topics. BetterHelp does not take this topic lightly either. They do acknowledge that an internet based service cannot be 100% secure. However, they have invested in great technology to support the platform.
How can I access BetterHelp?
There are a number of ways that you can access BetterHelp. Upon being connected with your therapist, you will determine the times that work best to connect.
You also will have a few options at your disposal to communicate.
For some, your desktop may be the easiest and most comfortable to access.
In the privacy of your own home, the desktop can be an appealing option. As busy as we often get, the desktop certainly limits your ability to stick with your routine.
Using your mobile phone allows you flexibility to meet with your counselor wherever you go. BetterHelp has a mobile app that provides a secure connection to easily communicate.
You may find that this option isn’t the best for live talk sessions due to privacy. However, providing written communication back and forth is more than accessible.
How legitimate is BetterHelp?
That likely will depend on who you ask. Since you’re reading my BetterHelp review, you’re going to get my answer.
BetterHelp is ahead of its time. Prior to the COVID-19 outbreak, telehealth has been under-utilized and ultimately not reimbursable for many psycho-therapists.
Users of this service may have found it difficult to get their insurance to pay for its services due to limited efficacy.
Now that we are fully in the pandemic, mental health service providers of many kinds have had to adapt their service modalities to telehealth. BetterHelp has had the barriers to this worked out long ago.
The benefit now, they have supported the legitimacy of telehealth, and reimbursement from insurers is certainly increased.
Types of therapy offered
BetterHelp has a wide variety of counselors that provide services: marriage and family therapists, professional counselors, social workers, and psychologists.
Through the specific lenses of your counselor’s training, they will cater their treatment to your needs.
In my research for this BetterHelp review, I have not found anything explicitly noting the types of therapies provided by their therapists.
However, they do indicate that if your counselor’s approach isn’t fitting, you can elect for a new counselor. In my personal experiences with BetterHelp, this is a very easy and quick.
It also is very common for credentialed therapists to understand and utilize Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Dialectical Behavior Therapy, Motivational Interviewing, and more. During my sessions, the counselor frequently drew upon these theories of practice.
What can they help with?
Before you actually meet with a counselor, you’ll fill out a brief questionnaire. Through this, there will be a determination of the types of problems you may have.
You’ll be able to clarify further upon being matched to your counselor.
Therapists at BetterHelp can help you with any type of problem that you’d want to see a live counselor for:
- Relationship Struggles
- Eating Disorders
There are a few caveats to BetterHelp. They specifically state the following problems are not suitable for their services:
- Thoughts of hurting self or others
- you’re a minor or under the care of a guardian
- you’re in an urgent crisis or in an emergency situation
- you have been diagnosed with a severe mental illness or you have been advised to be in psychological supervision or psychiatric care
- you are required to be in therapy by the courts or another authority
- you don’t have a device that connects to the internet or stable connection
Can BetterHelp prescribe medication?
That depends on your state. BetterHelp does have a partnership with Brightside. To know if this is feasible for you and your area, please speak with your counselor. Your primary care provider may be an option as well.
How to get started with BetterHelp
It’s a straightforward process.
Here I’ll walk you through what to expect! The following may seem long, but it’s really not. The process is several multiple choice answers based upon your own psychosocial needs.
This helps hone in on a proper therapist for you.
Here is the series of questions they will ask you if you’re seeking treatment as an individual only. If you’re looking for couples or teen child therapy, BetterHelp will send you to their respective, separate, site for sign up.
- Continuing as an individual, you’ll first be asked your gender. You are able to choose among several different gender identities.
- Next, you’ll be asked your age and then sexual orientation. For the latter, you are able to choose among several orientations.
- Relationship status will then be asked. You can choose widowed or even other if that applies.
- You will then be prompted as to whether you’re religious; if so, you are able to choose your specific religion. Spirituality is also asked.
A few loose end questions are then asked, which include:
- Have you been in counseling before?
- Do you feel your mental health is being affected by the coronavirus outbreak?
- How do you rate your current physical health?
- How would you rate your current eating habits?
The sign up process is then follows with a depression screening and brief questions about employment, intimacy, alcohol use, thoughts of suicide, anxiety, medications, chronic pain, financial stress, and sleep.
The last questions asks about how you think you’ll primarily be communicating with your therapist, your location, and preferred language.
The first therapy appointment
Following sign up, you’ll be notified within 24 hours of a counselor match. The questions you just answered help lead BetterHelp to good matches on your psychosocial domains.
From there, you and your therapist will set up a time to talk and come up with specific goals you’re looking to get out of therapy.
What do you do in therapy with BetterHelp?
Therapy in BetterHelp is no different than therapy face-to-face. Once you and your therapist have decided on a goal for your treatment, they will ask targeted questions to help understand the background and thinking you have about the problem.
From there, they will utilize their skill set to support your change.
Messaging with your therapist
Virtual communication with your therapist is super easy. Messaging was the primary way we talked during sessions.
The BetterHelp platform allows easy communication in a super secure way. My phone would receive an alert when the therapist replied. At my earliest convenience, I could then respond.
If I needed to recall something discussed, I could easily read the thread above and further reflect.
Live sessions with your therapist
Live sessions are a great way to build rapport and discuss complex issues. Messaging clearly has its limits.
BetterHelp gives you a quick and easy way to schedule yourself with your therapist for live sessions at both of your opportune times.
During my live sessions, my therapist provided great feedback and support. She not only understood my problems from the messaging we had done but also was able to elaborate and provide some more focused clinical interventions.
What if you want to change your therapist?
Within your BetterHelp account, you are able to easily change your counselor. Within my experience, I did at one point request a new counselor to see how that process would unfold.
I was simply asked why and allowed to choose from a list of counselors based upon the sign up questions.
Within 24 hours, my request was processed. I was linked to that new therapist.
What I cannot speak to is the communication, if any, there is between therapists if a change occurs.
I will state that as a professional courtesy, providing feedback to your therapist is important if you’re not happy and wanting to change. If their clinical style is not working with you, they can adapt to your needs. This will prevent you from having to re-tell your story as well.
Closing services is about as easy as changing your counselor. You are able to simply suspend your account. There is no need to provide notice to your counselor or BetterHelp.
In my experience, it was as quick as clicking a button.
Does BetterHelp actually work?
Yes, it definitely does. I say this so resoundingly, because BetterHelp is simply therapy over a virtual platform. The therapist will be able to work with you just as well as someone in-person.
Therapist effectiveness and qualifications
The therapist qualifications include the following at minimum:
- Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT)
- Licensed Clinical/ Master Social Worker (LCSW/ LMSW)
- Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC)
- Doctor of Psychology (PsyD)
- Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
*note that some states may have slight variations in the specific acronym used for some concentrations.
In addition to the practicing degree and license, many of the therapists have additional credentials that indicate specialized training. These credentials can include, but not limited to, the following:
- Qualified Mental Health Professional (QMHP)
- Certified Advanced Alcohol Drug Counselor (CAADC)
- National Board of Certified Counselors (NCC)
- Master Addiction Counselor (MAC)
So, how do all of these fancy acronyms and degrees surmount to effectiveness?
The world of mental health training and standardization has come a long way. In training, students are required to meet, in most cases, more than 4,000 hours of training, supervision, and a national exam to practice independently.
When a counselor has added credentials, it also means that they’ve taken significant steps to improve their own practice.
This doesn’t always mean they’re a better counselor than others, but it can be an indication of an intent to learn.
The experience that I had with BetterHelp in therapy was great. My counselor certainly fit the skill level I needed to make positive change.
Is it worth the money?
The cost of BetterHelp is $60-80 per week billed out every four weeks and depends on location, preferences, and therapist availability.
This cost may seem steep. When I consider the cost of seeing a therapist face-to-face, you’re paying more than just the copay. You have to take time off of work, drive to the appointment, sit in the waiting room, and hopefully get back to work in time.
In my opinion, if you have a clear problem you’re looking to resolve, then yes. It is worth the money.
Can insurance help?
BetterHelp indicates right now that services are generally not reimbursed under health insurance, Medicare, or Medicaid. They do add the caveat that some insurers may offer partial payments.
If you are looking to pursue having your insurance cover the cost, you’re asked to request the following information from your coverage:
- Do I have a mental health insurance benefit?
- What is my deductible and has it been met?
- How many sessions per year does my benefit cover?
- What is the coverage amount per session?
- Is approval required by my primary care physician?
BetterHelp offers reliable and consistent service that can occur at any time. This out-competes face-to-face therapy. It is super convenient and relatively cheap considering there may be partial insurance coverage.
With the current coronavirus pandemic, mental health has been forced to move services to telehealth. BetterHelp already has been there. With the increased need and proven efficacy, it can be expected that insurers will look to cover more cost in the future.
For the here and now, if you have any mental distress, I highly encourage you to give BetterHelp a shot.
If you’d like to try BetterHelp, here is my link that will give you a week free!