BetterHelp: Is Online Counseling Effective?
One of the common questions that we hear from our readers:
“How do I get professional counseling for my mental health issue?”
At Be Brain Fit, we understand that a brain-healthy lifestyle isn’t always enough to keep you mentally healthy.
Sometimes, for instance, professional counseling is needed.
One in four people experience a mental disorder in their lifetime, but most never seek professional help.
That’s unfortunate, because quality therapy can make a big difference at these crucial times.
Psychotherapy, or talk therapy, works well for a wide variety of life challenges and mental disorders, including anxiety disorders, depression, substance abuse, chronic insomnia, and stress-related disorders.
And online counseling works at least as well as office-based counseling.
Numerous studies have confirmed the effectiveness of professional online counseling.
In the age of COVID-19, more people than ever are taking advantage of professional counseling, especially online counseling.
[Note: As a BetterHelp affiliate, we earn revenue from BetterHelp when you buy through our product links, at no extra cost to you.]
The Case for Online Counseling
Below, I discuss the features and benefits that make online counseling an excellent alternative to traditional, office-based counseling for mental health issues.
But first and foremost, know that the quality of online counselors is just as good as in-office counselors.
A study conducted by the University of California found BetterHelp to be just as effective as traditional, in-office counseling.
Ninety-eight percent (98%) of BetterHelp clients reported making significant progress with their counseling, while 94% said they actually preferred BetterHelp to meeting with a therapist face-to-face.
How Online Counseling Compares to In-Office Counseling
The biggest obstacles that keep people from seeking traditional, in-office counseling are:
- Cost — The average therapy session costs in the US range from $100 to $200 per 45-minute session, depending on where you live. Health insurance plans generally provide minimal coverage for mental health issues. Also, insurance companies often deny or limit claims payments for unforeseen reasons.
- Access — Even with mental health insurance, provider networks are generally quite limited. This means that it can be harder to find a suitable counselor, or even any provider.
- Inconvenience — Work, family, and other commitments make it hard to squeeze in-office therapy sessions into a busy day.
- Stigma — Many people who would otherwise seek mental health counseling are either ashamed or embarrassed, or think it unwise to pursue it because office-based counseling makes it hard to be discreet.
With BetterHelp, these issues are not a concern.
Online Counseling Is Much More Affordable
BetterHelp is significantly less expensive than typical in-office therapy.
The median rate for a one-hour, in-person therapy session is $150 and, in major metropolitan areas, it can be much more.
Health insurance generally provides minimal coverage for mental health issues.
In fact, the total cost of BetterHelp counseling is typically comparable to the co-payment of most insurance plans.
The fee for BetterHelp counseling ranges from $80 to $100 per week, depending on which plan you choose, and includes unlimited access to your counselor.
Finding the Right Counselor Is Easier
With traditional counseling, you may find it hard to locate the right therapist, or any therapist, in your area.
Seventy-seven percent (77%) of counties in the US have a severe shortage of mental health care workers.
If you have mental health insurance, you’ll likely be confined to therapists in your insurance company’s provider network.
They may not accept new patients, may be booked for weeks in advance, or may not be experienced in dealing with your issue.
Finding the Right Match
But regardless of how you locate a therapist, there is no guarantee of finding a good match.
BetterHelp’s intake questionnaire matches you with a therapist who has the qualifications and expertise you prefer in a counselor, usually within 24 hours.
Additionally, you can state your preference regarding your therapist’s gender, age, language, sexual orientation, area of expertise, and more.
And, if for any reason you are not satisfied with your counselor, BetterHelp makes it easy for you to switch to a new one.
There’s no uncomfortable break-up with your current counselor.
Convenience Is a Major Advantage for Online vs In-Office Counseling
Online counseling allows you to “meet with” your counselor at times that suit your schedule.
Additionally, you can be in contact with your therapist 24/7 from the comfort of your home or any other location you choose.
Once you are matched to a counselor, you and your counselor will gain access to a dedicated virtual “counseling room” — your private and secure place to communicate.
BetterHelp offers more communication options than any other online counseling service.
With BetterHelp, as long as you have a computer or mobile device, you can use it to message, chat, phone, or video with your counselor, any time and anywhere you need.
And since there is a record of all your communications, you can review all of your counseling contacts at your leisure.
Privacy, Discretion, and Security Are Paramount
Unfortunately, the stigma surrounding mental health care is still very real.
Fear of being judged by employers, colleagues, or family may make you leery about getting help.
All mental health professionals take steps to protect your privacy, but BetterHelp takes it a few steps further.
Their privacy and confidentiality standards are far more advanced than what is required by law or regulations.
You don’t even have to disclose your full real name to your therapist.
This anonymity is actually helpful therapeutically for some people.
Everything you tell your counselor is completely private, protected by strict federal and state laws.
BetterHelp does not share any information with your insurance company or employer.
All messages between you and your counselor are secured by 256-bit encryption, the same kind that banks use.
BetterHelp’s service is compliant with the United States’ HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) Privacy Rule.
This assures that all your medical and mental health information is kept private and secure.
What Kind of Expertise Do BetterHelp Therapists Have?
BetterHelp has the world’s largest network of licensed, accredited, and experienced counselors.
The qualifications of their professionals are the same as those who offer traditional, in-person counseling.
The counselors at BetterHelp include these fully credentialed professionals:
- psychologists (PhD/PsyD)
- marriage and family therapists (LMFT)
- clinical social workers (LCSW/LMSW)
- licensed professional counselors (LPC)
You can access BetterHelp services from anywhere in the world, but all BetterHelp therapists must currently reside in the United States.
They must have a masters or doctorate degree, be certified by their state’s professional board, and have at least three years of hands-on experience.
BetterHelp does a rigorous background check on each therapist; only about 15% of those who apply are accepted.
Their counselor directory contains over 21,000 licensed therapists who have collectively helped over 1.8 million clients.
On BetterHelp’s website, you can consult their “Counselor Directory” section to see a complete biography of any counselor.
What Issues Can BetterHelp Address?
According to BetterHelp, they have qualified and experienced therapists to help individuals, couples, families, and teens with many issues, including:
- Anger management
- Attention disorders
- Bipolar disorder
- Career difficulties
- Eating disorders
- Family conflicts
- Grief and loss
- Life transitions
- Religion and faith
- Sex and intimacy
- Self-esteem and coping
- Sleep disorders
- Trauma and abuse
- Veterans issues
NOTE: Any online therapy, including BetterHelp, is not the right solution for you if any of the following is true:
- You have thoughts of hurting yourself or others.
- You are a minor or you are under the care of a legal guardian.
- You are in an urgent crisis or an emergency situation.
- You have been diagnosed with a severe mental illness, or if you have been advised to be under psychological supervision or psychiatric care.
- You were required to undergo therapy or counseling either by a court order or by any other authority.
- You do not have a device that can connect to the internet or you do not have a reliable internet connection.
Getting Started with BetterHelp
Tap any of the “TRY BetterHelp” link buttons (or images) on this page to go to their website.
- There, you’ll first tell them the type of counseling you’re looking for — individual, couples, or teen.
- Next, you’ll take an online questionnaire where you’ll answer questions about yourself, including the symptoms you’re experiencing, the issues you’d like to address, and your preferences for the qualities you want in your therapist. It’s important for BetterHelp to know all this in order to pair you with a compatible and helpful counselor.
- Then, BetterHelp’s proprietary algorithm will match you with a counselor appropriate for you and your situation, usually within 24 hours.
- Once you’re paired with your therapist, you’ll be allowed entry to a secure, dedicated chat room that only you and your counselor can access.
- If, for any reason, you are not completely satisfied with your therapist, you can easily request a change.
- You can use BetterHelp for as short or long a time as you’d like.
- Once you accomplish your goals, or decide to discontinue for any other reason, you can cancel your subscription at any time.
Get Effective, Affordable, and Convenient Professional Counseling — Online
Sometimes, you need professional counseling to help rebalance your life, relationships, or work.
Counseling, aka psychotherapy or talk therapy, has been shown to be very helpful for a wide range of behavioral and emotional issues.
BetterHelp is the largest online counseling service, with 21,000 licensed, accredited, and experienced counselors available to help you throughout the US.
With BetterHelp, you get the same professionalism and effectiveness you would expect from a traditional, office-based counselor.
But you also have the ability to communicate with your counselor when and how you want, in total privacy.
BetterHelp is quality mental health counseling, but on your terms.
It’s professional and private like in-office counseling, but more affordable and convenient.
For all these reasons, I recommend BetterHelp.
Patrick Alban, DC