BetterHelp Review: My Experience Of A Month Of Online Therapy

When I first heard about BetterHelp, and the concept of online therapy in general, I was skeptical. Having both studied psychology and spent many hours in therapy in person, I had a clear idea of what therapy was “supposed” to be. Body language is, after all, one of the most unfiltered channels of communication. At best, I imagined that online therapy could be a good alternative for those who didn’t have the option to see a therapist in person.

However, the more I learned about online therapy, the more it started to make sense to me. It is by nature more interactive, which is good when building a therapeutic relationship. Therapists can share material and homework. And, if you needed your therapist between sessions, you can simply text them. Perhaps most significant is the idea that you can change your therapist if they’re not working out for you. In traditional therapy, that’s a whole lot more difficult.

It was with these conflicting ideas in mind that I began a four week BetterHelp trial. I tried to remain impartial throughout, but when it comes to therapy, it is always going to be personal.

The BetterHelp Review

There is a whole lot of information bouncing around in my mind regarding my BetterHelp experience, much of it conflicting. I’ve tried to structure it so that I can assess each aspect of the experience in its own right.


Before going into detail, here is a quick summary of how the process went, from beginning to end.

  • Signing up was a breeze. You complete a questionnaire that asks for some of your mental health history and the reasons you are using BetterHelp. You tick boxes to say what you’re struggling with and that makes it somewhat easier to admit your problem.
  • After completing the questionnaire, you provide your basic details, choose a plan, and input payment details. Once you’ve provided all your details, the admin is done, no matter how many therapists you go through.
  • The therapist search begins. You can set parameters of characteristics you’d like in your therapist. These are not filters, but guidelines that are taken into consideration where possible.
  • The first time you do this process, they assign you a counselor automatically. I was assigned a counselor and provided with her message introducing herself. In order to schedule a session, you have to write to your counselor and wait for them to reply. They have everything you have shared in the signup process, and your first message can just be a greeting if you’d like.
  • I got a response and we scheduled a video session for a few days later. Finding a private space is, of course, up to you. For some, this is ideal, but if you live with others and do not have a room or office of your own, this can be difficult.
  • The first counselor I spoke to did not work out for me, which I’ll go into more detail about later. I chose to change therapists and chose more specific criteria. As I mentioned, these criteria are not filters and they give you a selection of therapists who fit as many criteria as possible.
  • Between video sessions I tried to make good use of the services available. I texted with my therapists and sometimes they texted just to check in. I received some reading material and worksheets from my counselors. You can now leave a three minute voice note which I found helpful. There are also workshops with certain therapists which you can choose to attend with no strings attached.

Company Profile

BetterHelp is the largest online therapy platform in the world. They have brought the concept of online therapy into the spotlight, with intensive marketing campaigns. These have included sponsorships of YouTubers who have, for the most part, found their services valuable and felt confident to encourage their followers to sign up.

BetterHelp sees online therapy as the ideal option for many people in today’s world. Their platform brings therapy into the twenty-first century, offering text, voice, and video therapy sessions. They operate globally, and make it easy to find a therapist who matches your needs rather than whoever is nearby or available.

Getting Started

The BetterHelp signup process is simple. You complete an online questionnaire that asks for your basic details, along with questions about your mental health. These questions provide a range of answers to choose from, rather than asking you to write anything. It is ideal for someone who feels intimidated or overwhelmed by the process.

As a side note: when I provided the information on my sexuality (I’m gay), they offered to transfer me to their LGBT sister-site Pride Counseling, which would have been perfect when I was dealing with coming out years ago.

Once you have an account, you can start the search for a counselor.

Virtual Counselor Matching

BetterHelp asks for details about your preferred counselor. You can choose whether you want a male, female, or non-binary counselor. You can choose if you want someone LGBT. You can also choose which areas you’d like them to specialize in.

I was matched with a psychologist and provided with her qualifications. She had all the necessary qualifications, including a PhD, and plenty of experience. She had also provided an introductory letter describing herself and her approach to therapy.

The platform requires you to send a message and wait for a reply before scheduling a session. I did so, received her reply, and set up a session for a couple of days later.

Therapist Quality

No matter whether you are doing online or traditional therapy, the quality of the therapist is all-important. Having seen a range of therapists in the past, I was well aware that some are a lot better than others.

The first therapist I was matched ultimately did not work out for me. The first session started as usual, with me providing my basic information and concerns. As the session progressed, I noticed that I was doing all the work. She seemed very nervous, and got awkward during silences, and I kept talking to make her feel comfortable. I mentioned this, feeling guilty but wanting to be authentic. She said that maybe she seemed nervous because she wasn’t so used to the platform. This was a useful moment in the session for me, as authenticity is something I struggle with, but after this brief exchange, it continued as before.

During the following week, I texted her about my anxiety, and she messaged me useful tips for managing it.

Our next session progressed along the same lines, and I still felt like I was doing the work just to keep the session going. I’ve seen therapists who use an active listening approach, where they gently prompted me to delve deeper. This did not feel the same.

She checked in with me in the week that followed, asking if my trip had gone well (returning from a visit to my home town) which I appreciated.

That week, I experienced some depression, and I spoke with her about this in our following session. This time, I did not have the energy or motivation to force the session forward, and after some silence, she ended the session early. I was disappointed with this and chose to change therapist. In my experience, silence should be a useful tool for any therapist and not an obstacle.

The new therapist I chose was excellent. He was confident, actively engaged, interested, and had a clear approach to therapy. We spoke for a while about my history and what I hoped to gain, and he explained how we would progress. He has a goal-oriented approach, and in particular deals with exploring core identity. He sent me reading material on the topic, which was useful, and which we discussed over text through the following week. Using the voice note feature was helpful, and it felt good to be able to just talk for three minutes

Our second session went great. I already felt a rapport from the first session and already felt confident about his ability. Therapy with him online matched therapy in person. Being able to text with him and receive information and worksheets was incredibly helpful as well. We started working towards setting long- and short-term goals and he assigned me homework that really helped me progress.

Platform and Usability

The platform is very user-friendly. It is easy to find a therapist, set up a session, and attend a session. Using the phone app for a session itself came with its drawbacks. I had to hold my phone the whole time, which was due to my own bad planning.

The issues that bothered me when using my phone included the fact that my own video took up enough of the screen to be distracting, and I kept trying to manage my facial expressions. Furthermore, I received a few distracting text messages from friends. Again, this was partly due to my own lack of planning, as a quick Google search showed me this could be resolved by using “Do Not Disturb” mode on my phone.

Using the platform on my laptop was better, as I saw more of the therapist and he saw more of me. My own reflection was not nearly as distracting and could be made smaller. I closed everything that would have sent me notifications, and was not distracted by anything. It felt almost like I was in the room with him.

Services Available

The services made available by BetterHelp are individual sessions via text, voice, or video, links to homework and worksheets, and regular workshops.

Individual Sessions

The individual sessions are the crux of online therapy. They function just like individual therapy sessions would in person. You can schedule as many sessions as you’d like for the price of your subscription, as long as your therapist is available. You can schedule one session at a time, so there is a good chance you will only manage to fit in one a week.

The other services do a good job of supplementing the scheduled sessions.

Homework and Worksheets

Your therapist may choose to assign you “homework” which is particularly important for therapists specializing in cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), mindfulness-based therapies, and other methods that require you to learn practical skills. There are also links to worksheets on the BetterHelp site which your therapist can easily reference.

Educational Workshops

Educational workshops are available throughout, run by various therapists. They cover a wide range of topics, and may provide very practical tools. There are no strings attached to attending one of these sessions, and they are a good supplement to individual therapy.

Confidentiality and Privacy

Confidentiality is necessary for successful therapy in any context. You need to know that your therapist will not share your information with anyone and will respect your privacy. They are bound by ethical and legal standards to maintain your confidentiality. The only exception is when they have good reason to believe you are a threat to yourself or others.

With BetterHelp therapists, the same rules apply. Since the therapists are all certified by professional boards, the platform does not change anything.

Overall Quality

Overall, I found the BetterHelp signup process and therapist search to be exceptionally simple and streamlined. The platform was excellent, although I found it much more conducive to video sessions when used on my computer rather than my phone.

Although I had misgivings about my first therapist, I am aware that this does not necessarily have anything to do with the service or platform. Whereas in traditional therapy, switching therapists would have been difficult and frustrating, on BetterHelp the process was easy. I was also able to leave feedback on the therapist, which I would probably never do with a traditional therapist.

When paired with a therapist who I liked and admired, the platform did not detract from the experience of therapy, and provided more opportunity to engage with the ideas and skills shared in between sessions.

The major drawbacks for me came from the occasions on which I had to use my phone for sessions, as well as when I had difficulty finding a private space. In person, this would not have been an issue.

Using BetterHelp has assuaged many of my doubts about online therapy. Body language is still relevant. When in a private space with a computer and good connection, it feels almost like you’re in the room with the therapist.

author avatar
Angel Rivera
I am a Bilingual (Spanish) Psychiatrist with a mixture of strong clinical skills including Emergency Psychiatry, Consultation Liaison, Forensic Psychiatry, Telepsychiatry and Geriatric Psychiatry training in treatment of the elderly. I have training in EMR records thus very comfortable in working with computers. I served the difficult to treat patients in challenging environments in outpatient and inpatient settings
Scroll to Top