Talkspace vs Betterhelp: What You Should Know About E-Therapy
Remote therapy is fast becoming a viable alternative for those looking for cheap, reliable options for talking to in-person therapists, counselors, and psychologists. For some people, visiting a therapist may be out of the question due to various reasons. These include not living within close enough proximity to the therapist’s office and not being able to afford the high out-of-pocket payments.
Affordability is a major reason why people are starting to opt for online or remote therapy. Most employers will not cover insurance claims for therapy, and most insurance companies don’t cover non-clinical issues. All these necessitate an alternative for people seeking therapy for stress, anxiety, depression, and other mental disorders such as OCD and PTSD.
This article will explore two top online platforms that provide e-therapy services — Talkspace and BetterHelp. These two companies operate online platforms that connect patients with licensed professionals, including social workers, psychologists, counselors, and therapists. The purpose of these two companies isn’t to oversee the work of mental health professionals. Rather, it is to simply avail these remote mental health services to a larger population at an affordable price.
Let’s explore what makes each of these services stand out and what makes them unique from each other. This article will also weigh the pros and cons of each service.
- How to Find the Right Counselor for Yourself
- Therapists’ Qualification and Quality of Service
- Pricing Comparison
- The Intake Process
- Variety of Psychotherapy Services Offered
- Psychiatric Services
- Insurance Reimbursement
- Cancelling the Subscription
- Mobile Apps Availability
- Best Online Therapy 2020 | The Final Verdict
How to Find the Right Counselor for Yourself
Most people looking for e-counseling services suffer from minor issues that don’t need in-person treatment. This isn’t to imply that online therapy is a replacement for traditional therapy. For people suffering from severe or prolonged issues such as mental disorders, an actual visit to an in-person therapist is necessary.
For most e-therapy platforms such as Talkspace and BetterHelp, the following disclaimers regularly apply that:
- No official diagnosis (such as a diagnosis that appears on an official medical record) is given.
- Court orders such as requirements for mental evaluation cannot be fulfilled through online therapy.
- In most cases, medication cannot be prescribed.
The professional chosen should demonstrate a history of treating the issue successfully and be able to define it before prescribing a treatment plan. It is always advised to seek referrals and check out mental health resources and advice on sites such as DrMental before rushing into any decisions concerning who will treat you.
The right therapist should be skilled and have the requisite education, professional, and clinical work experience. The service should also be affordable enough that weekly or monthly billing rates won’t exceed traditional therapy.
What Is Talkspace?
Talkspace is a popular online therapy website with about 1300 licensed therapists and professionals such as psychiatrists, psychologists, teen and adult care social care workers. Talkspace aims to make mental health counseling affordable and readily available for anyone with a smartphone or laptop device.
What Is BetterHelp?
BetterHelp is one of the largest online therapy platforms in the world, having served almost one million clients and working with thousands of licensed mental health professionals. BetterHelp aims to connect patients with the right professionals through its wide network of licensed and board-approved therapists in various states.
In addition to messaging and calling, BetterHelp connects the client with therapists on smartphones, tablets, and PCs in a secure and comfortable environment.
Therapists’ Qualification and Quality of Service
On both Talkspace and BetterHelp, therapists are licensed, board-accredited, and highly qualified to work with patients. Most counselors on BetterHelp possess at minimum a master’s degree or a Ph.D., and all have fulfilled the mandatory 3000 hours of clinical work experience.
BetterHelp has a network of 7000+ licensed psychologists, therapists, clinical social care workers, and licensed professional counselors. Talkspace, on the other hand, has a network of 1000+ therapists, MCSWs, LMFTs, LPCs, PsyDs, and psychologists. Both these platforms require that all therapists provide proof of identity, and both Talkspace and BetterHelp verify all data against state and national databases.
BetterHelp takes each provider through a 5-week case study evaluation by licensed clinical therapists before they can accept anyone into their ranks.
Verdict: Both Talkspace and BetterHelp make a great effort to ensure that only the best counselors work with them. In terms of scale and availability, BetterHelp takes the crown due to its extensive network of therapists.
Both Betterhelp and Talkspace provide options that allow one to pay weekly, monthly, and quarterly. The cost of these tiers depends on the exact services offered. For example, it could be an unlimited messaging service, messages plus live chat and weekly video sessions. The cost-benefit depends on how comprehensive the services offered are.
BetterHelp offers three tiers of billing rates depending on the services that one requires. All BetterHelp plans are inclusive of live messaging and phone sessions. The basic tier of BetterHelp that includes unlimited texting and live the message and call features translates to $65 a week. Unlimited texting alone costs roughly $40 weekly. Billed monthly, this translates to $160.
Talkspace, on the premium tier, offers four 30-minute live sessions, including text, video, and live messaging, for the price of $79 weekly billed monthly. This translates to $316 per month. There are also several discounts, as much as 15% offered on Talkspace.
Verdict: Talkspace charges slightly more than BetterHelp in this regard, but you can get better value for money with its four live sessions every month.
The Intake Process
Talkspace and BetterHelp both have a comprehensive sign up process in which the patient’s information is taken. At this stage of the process, the patient discloses more about their background and the issue that’s afflicting them.
Talkspace allows you to choose from three types of services centered on couples, teens, and adults. BetterHelp, on the other hand, has an input form or questionnaire, and this is run through an algorithm that matches the client to the right therapist.
The sign-up process on Talkspace is a bit more detailed and allows customers to choose from several options before being assigned a therapist. BetterHelp’s process is a little more intuitive and faster but doesn’t allow customers to disclose much about their condition in the early stages. Both BetterHelp and Talkspace allow one to request a counselor change in the middle of a subscription.
Verdict: The matching process for both BetterHelp and Talkspace is optimized for speed and ensuring that the customer gets the best available therapist. However, Talkspace is a bit more involving and allows the patient to choose from more options when disclosing their issue.
Variety of Psychotherapy Services Offered
The majority of issues covered by BetterHelp include help on anxiety, depression, substance abuse disorders, eating disorders, PTSD, relationships, and family. Talkspace also covers the same issues but provides more specialized services for adults, teens, and couples, including wellness and financial planning.
BetterHelp provides worksheets that can be filled out and which allow better communication with the therapist. BetterHelp focuses more on the chatroom shared with the therapist, which is the main resource available to the client. Video chats and voice messages are also useful tools for communicating quickly with the therapist. Talkspace has a “guaranteed response time” in which you can notify the therapist of the period when you are expecting a response.
Both BetterHelp and Talkspace allow users to go back to their virtual chatrooms and reread previous messages, even if they leave these platforms. This is a great way for patients to go back and see their discussions with their therapists.
Verdict: Clients can get more comprehensive resources on Talkspace.
Both Talkspace and BetterHelp offer psychiatric counseling. However, Talkspace psychiatrists can prescribe medication. Since psychiatric services nationally are limited in number, Talkspace is a clear winner in this regard. BetterHelp does offer psychiatric counseling, but medication is not prescribed. Psychiatric appointments on Talkspace are billed separately from the actual subscription service and cost $125 per session.
BetterHelp is categoric that it doesn’t provide insurance reimbursement, whether for private insurance, Medicare, or Medicaid. This approach is to generally keep weekly billing costs significantly lower than would be covered even by insurance copays. Another reason is that for any insurance reimbursement to be made, the therapist (in this case, BetterHelp) would be required to diagnose the patient with a mental health disorder. BetterHelp counselors do not provide official diagnoses.
Talkspace, on the other hand, provides limited insurance cover through Employee Assistance Plans (EAPs) and other behavioral health benefits. Though the number of people in a partner program would be quite limited, it is still a good effort to reduce the cost of therapy.
The Verdict: Talkspace is a clear favorite as it has tried to respond to the need to cover some therapy costs through insurance.
Cancelling the Subscription
BetterHelp doesn’t offer an option to pause a subscription at any given time. Even at the lowest pricing tier of around $160 monthly, this might still be a strain for some people who are struggling to make ends meet. The best option would be to go for a maximum of a one-month subscription on BetterHelp that can be renewed.
Talkspace allows the subscription to be “paused” at any given time during the month. While refunds are not usual for both BetterHelp and Talkspace, reviews on Talkspace suggest that the company does offer refunds sometimes after reviewing each case carefully.
The Verdict: Talkspace has a better history of making refunds according to various independent reviews. Talkspace also allows one to pause their subscription, which is a good deal.
Mobile Apps Availability
Both BetterHelp and Talkspace have mobile apps on both Google Play and the Apple App Store. In terms of reviews on independent sites, BetterHelp has a much better functioning application that also provides many tools available to clients on the actual web application. The Talkspace app has many potential, but there have been many complaints about the app being laggy and not intuitive enough.
The Verdict: BetterHelp has a better functioning app than Talkspace.
Best Online Therapy 2020 | The Final Verdict
Both BetterHelp and Talkspace offer a comprehensive array of psychotherapy services. They both have a huge network of counselors who are well-trained and experts in a variety of areas such as family, couples, and teen counseling. Both BetterHelp and Talkspace have highly trained and qualified counselors, and there is little that separates them other than the fact that BetterHelp has a wider network.
The sign-up process on BetterHelp is more intuitive, although it seems quite mechanical and automated. Talkspace allows the client to detail their problem better in the intake process and choose a category that fits them better. Talkspace has a wider array of tools available to the client, although it is a bit pricier than BetterHelp. Thus, while BetterHelp is ultimately cheaper, Talkspace offers better value for money.
Talkspace offers limited insurance cover, while BetterHelp doesn’t offer to reimburse any form of insurance. Talkspace also offers better psychiatric care, treatment, and management, although at a slightly higher cost than that of the subscription. BetterHelp does offer psychiatric counseling but doesn’t offer medication. BetterHelp allows the client to request a therapist change much quicker than Talkspace.
These are the most significant issues separating BetterHelp and Talkspace. Both platforms show a high degree of professionalism and care for clients, especially concerning pricing. Talkspace, although pricier, is a bit more flexible with its pricing with regards to insurance coverage and discounts.
BetterHelp vs Talkspace 2020 final verdict: Talkspace is pricier but offers greater value for money with more resources and tools available to clients. BetterHelp is a bit more conservative on the cost end but offers a wider network of highly trained professionals. There is no clear winner between Talkspace and BetterHelp, with all factors taken into account.
You can find more information on good mental health practices and other useful resources by visiting DrMental.