Talkspace vs. BetterHelp: Which Online Therapy Is Better?
- Accepts insurance
- Can prescribe medication
- Lower cost
- All plans include live sessions
After COVID-19 restricted the ways we work, go to school, and socialize, people have grown increasingly comfortable turning to technology to meet their basic needs, including mental health. Online therapy, or telehealth, has become more popular than ever. Even as states reopen and social-distancing rules relax, many clients are sticking with virtual counseling.
Talkspace and BetterHelp are two of the largest, most popular, and best online therapy platforms available. People simply open their mobile or desktop device to connect with their designated therapist, communicating through chat rooms, audio and video messaging, and live sessions.
Why Virtual Therapy?
This new form of therapy has caught on with those looking for alternatives to traditional face-to-face care. And people are seeing benefits to virtual therapy beyond just help with navigating lockdown restrictions. Many people prefer the benefits of working with online therapy companies, including flexible schedules, relatively low cost, and convenience of “meeting” their therapist in the comfort of their own home.
We compared these two online therapy companies, Talkspace and BetterHelp, looking at cost, types of services, networks, and the fine print, to determine which platform helps people get the most out of their online treatment.
- Accepts insurance
- Three payment plan options
- Therapists with high levels of experience and training
- It's easy to switch therapists
- Offers therapy service for teens
- Includes psychiatry services, including medication management
- All plans include text, audio, and video messaging
- Some plans bundle in live sessions
- Standard plan does not include live sessions
- May take days to get matched with a therapist
- Therapists may take a long time to respond
- All plans include live sessions
- Financial aid available to qualifying users
- Wide network of experienced mental health professionals
- Digital tools to continue work outside of appointments
- Low cost
- Easy cancellation
- No psychiatry services
- Does not accept insurance
- No services for teens
- Price varies by location and availability
Can Prescribe Medication
$90 to $120 weekly
Messages, live chat, phone, video conferencing
$260 to $396 monthly
Text, video, voice or audio messages and live video sessions
Adults and teens 13+
BetterHelp vs. Talkspace Cost
Mental healthcare shouldn’t come at a premium, and yet cost is a barrier for many people in the market for a therapist. Indeed, high prices, as well as provider shortages and geographic challenges, have prevented 42.6 percent of U.S. adults with a behavioral health condition from receiving any treatment in the past year, according to a study published February 8, 2021, in the American Journal of Health Promotion.
Online mental health services reduce those barriers with a low price point and are typically less costly than in-person therapy sessions. Talkspace and BetterHelp each offer pricing plans that differ according to length of subscription, number of live sessions and messaging, and type of mental health services.
With BetterHelp, users buy a subscription that ranges from $90 to $120 per week. Your exact cost is determined by your location, preferences, and availability of therapists. This subscription pays for a weekly live session of 30 to 50 minutes (depending on your therapist’s availability) along with unlimited, 24/7 access to messaging in a private chat room.
Talkspace offers three different pricing plans for individuals. Therapy Plus is the most basic subscription: For $260 a month, users have access to text, video, and audio messaging with their therapists, but no live sessions are included at this base price. Therapy Premium includes all the same features with one 30-minute live session per month at $316 a month. With Therapy Ultimate, users get all the same benefits with an additional four 30-minute sessions a month at a cost of $396 a week. The Ultimate plan is the most comparable to BetterHelp in terms of services.
Therapy for Couples and Teens
Talkspace also has unique pricing for couples and teens. Couples therapy is $396 and includes four live 30-minute sessions. Teens 13 and up can get all the text, video, and audio messaging they want for a $260 monthly package. This package does not include live sessions; consider whether access to real-time interaction is make-or-break for your teen.
Pricing and Payment Options
As you consider your budget while researching online therapy platforms, it’s important to know what your insurance will cover. A significant difference between Talkspace and BetterHelp is that, while Talkspace bills insurance, BetterHelp does not. BetterHelp aims to keep its prices comparable to the cost of a copay in traditional therapy. As a way of making therapy more accessible to low-income clients, the platform also offers financial aid. In the initial questionnaire, you have an option to select Apply for Financial Aid, which will determine whether you qualify on the basis of your location and income.
Talkspace vs. BetterHelp: The Sign-Up Process
In BetterHelp and Talkspace reviews, Talkspace and BetterHelp users consistently comment on the ease of getting started. Many who had put off finding a therapist for months were relieved by how quickly they could get the ball rolling with telehealth.
When new users sign up for Talkspace, they’ll start with a brief questionnaire, followed by a consultation with a licensed mental health professional who will get a sense of their goals and needs. They’ll explain what they want to address in therapy, which allows the consultation therapist to suggest a few counselors who fit their described needs. Note that once they select their therapists, it may be several days before they’re connected.
One difference between Talkspace and BetterHelp is that, with BetterHelp, the client-to-therapist match is totally automated. After prospective users submit answers to a questionnaire on what they would like to address in therapy, an algorithm matches them with a counselor. BetterHelp allows users to filter counselors according to characteristics such as age, gender, and areas of expertise. Typically, they’ll be able to start counseling within a day or two. As with Talkspace, if the match doesn’t feel right, users can request to switch providers through the app.
BetterHelp vs. Talkspace: Counselor Qualifications and Effectiveness
Whether you choose Talkspace or BetterHelp, you can be sure that the counselor on the line is a licensed and accredited mental health provider. When doing our online counseling comparison, we found that both companies are staffed with professionals who have met their state’s licensing qualifications and hold either a master’s or a doctorate.
Across the two online therapy platforms, therapists have a range of expertise and training: psychologists, marriage and family therapists, clinical social workers, and licensed professional counselors. The BetterHelp network of 20,000 counselors have completed at least three years and 1,000 hours of post-degree, supervised clinical experience. Talkspace prides itself on hiring professionals with an average of nine years in practice, and all have completed at least 3,000 supervised clinical hours before joining the platform, which is a high standard among online therapy providers.
When it comes to the effectiveness of a therapy relationship, good fit is just as important as the degree. Reviewers report that both Talkspace and BetterHelp make it easy to find the right therapist; if you don’t form a connection with your counselor, just request a change in providers. With luck you’ll be able to tell when you’ve found a therapist who’s a good fit for you.
BetterHelp users report that their therapists recommend digital worksheets and homework to continue their work outside of sessions. While some find these tools useful, others see it as busy work. Whether these aids are effective will be a matter of personal preference.
Talkspace vs. BetterHelp: Types of Services
Some mental health support requires face-to-face interaction. But many users find that the convenience and after-hours availability of online therapy works for them. Both Talkspace and BetterHelp bring on professionals who are specially trained in areas like eating disorders, addiction, couples counseling, parenting, depression, and anxiety.
Talkspace is one of the few online therapy platforms that offers services specifically to teens, which helps set it apart from Talkspace competitors.?Teenagers can access help with unlimited text, video, and audio messages. While they need a parent to help them sign up, these chat rooms are private to clients and their therapists; they can work through problems with school, friends, or family in total privacy. It should be noted that the Talkspace teen counseling service does not include live sessions.
Talkspace also offers online psychiatry services, which allows psychiatrists to evaluate people virtually and prescribe medications when needed. The initial psychiatric evaluation is about $199, with follow-ups priced at about $125 per session. Because BetterHelp does not offer psychiatry services, it’s not a fit for those seeking medication management.
Talkspace vs. BetterHelp: Ease of Cancellation
You may find that your therapy journey has come to a natural stopping point. Or you may have tried out online therapy and found you want to go with a traditional setting.
BetterHelp allows you to cancel anytime for any reason, and the platform will simply stop your monthly billing. The process of ending your Talkspace services varies depending on how you pay. If you are billing through insurance, there’s no need to do more than select “cancel,” since the system bills only for sessions provided. If you are a subscriber canceling before the end of your plan, you won’t be refunded the unused time. Canceling essentially pauses your service, and you can use the remaining sessions at a later date.
BetterHelp vs. Talkspace: Which Offers a Free Trial?
Talkspace does not give away trials, though it does offer a free initial consultation with a matching agent to introduce the Talkspace platform and connect you to a potential therapist.
BetterHelp also does not offer a free trial but does offer financial aid for qualifying users, plus the ability to cancel anytime.
Is Online Therapy Right for You?
Online therapy is not right for everyone. Traditional therapy may better serve the needs?of people living with serious mental illness, addiction, or suicidal ideation, according to an article published in August 2017 in the American Psychological Association's?Monitor on Psychology. In-person therapy allows practitioners to observe facial cues and body language, which may be necessary for an accurate diagnosis. In the event of a crisis, an online therapist might also have difficulty intervening.
But for some, online therapy has overcome barriers to initiating therapy. Online therapists have flexible schedules and increased availability, using multiple modes of communication. And their office is your home. Virtual therapy is accessible anywhere a user has Wi-Fi and a mobile or desktop device.
COVID-19 and social distancing have brought new users into the realm of online health services. Many of them are sticking with their online therapy plans because they’re commute free, low stakes, and more affordable than traditional therapy.
Final Verdict: Which Online Therapy Platform We Prefer
Once you’ve decided whether your needs are a good fit for online therapy, it’s hard to go wrong with either Talkspace or BetterHelp. You can find comparable services on both platforms; even the same providers often work across the two companies. In the end, your budget, mental health needs, and communication preferences will be the deciding factors while conducting an online therapy comparison.
When creating our comparison of online therapy providers, we found that there's really only one choice for those who need medication management: Talkspace. BetterHelp does not offer psychiatric services, while Talkspace employs a network of prescribers.
All-Inclusive Subscription and Other Features
In the end, we like BetterHelp as an alternative to Talkspace for its all-inclusive subscription, easy cancellation process, and its financial aid program. These features show how this platform walks the talk, practicing its ethos to reduce barriers to mental healthcare.
But it’s really your relationship to your therapist that will determine the effectiveness of your therapy outcomes. If you’re struggling to develop an allyship with your counselor, the therapy simply won’t be productive. Request a change in provider to get the most out of either platform.