When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, many of us found ourselves shifting from in-person therapy to virtual sessions with our providers. But virtual therapy is nothing new, with the two most popular platforms, Talkspace and BetterHelp, being founded in 2012 and 2013, respectively. Studies have shown that online therapy platforms are just as effective as in-person therapy, and they're especially helpful for people who have trouble commuting to a therapist's office.
If you're trying to decide between BetterHelp and Talkspace, it's important to know that one isn't inherently "better" than the other. Rather, the two have key differences that should be taken into account as you make your decision. Here's a breakdown of those differences.
BetterHelp vs. Talkspace: Therapy and Psychiatry Services
Both BetterHelp and Talkspace match you with a licensed therapist, who you can communicate with 24/7 through the platforms' messaging services or in real-time during scheduled sessions. However, one major difference between the two is that Talkspace offers psychiatry services for those who need both therapy and medication to manage their symptoms. Talkspace may not be able to fill all your prescriptions, though. Specifically, any controlled substance, such as Adderall, Xanax, Klonopin, or Lithium, cannot be prescribed by Talkspace.
BetterHelp vs. Talkspace: Special Features
Each platform has unique features. The question to ask yourself when deciding between the two is which features would be most beneficial to your mental health and your treatment regimen.
When you're a member of BetterHelp, you'll have weekly access to more than 20 live group sessions that are moderated by therapists. You also have the option of speaking with your therapist on the phone, a feature that Talkspace doesn't offer. If you're a parent who's seeking therapy for your child, BetterHelp also has a sister site called Teen Counseling that allows you to work with your child to choose the best therapist. Like in-person counseling, your child's virtual sessions are confidential, and they are the only one who has access to the "therapy room." However, the therapist will send you an alert if your child is a danger to themselves or others and intervention is needed.
In addition to Talkspace's psychiatric services, some of the platform's special features include in-app assessments and clinical progress tracking; guided self-help exercises; and access to Employee Assistance Programs (EAP), which can help you find resources for financial advice, legal advice, and work-life planning.
BetterHelp vs. TalkSpace: Pricing
Talkspace offers three plans, ranging from $65 per week for unlimited messaging with a therapist to $99 per week for unlimited messaging and four live sessions per month. Discounts are offered if you sign up to pay quarterly or biannually. Talkspace is covered by some insurance plans, so be sure to ask your insurance provider if the platform qualifies under your benefits.
BetterHelp is slightly more affordable, with plans ranging from approximately $60 to $90 per week. As an example, for $65 a week you'll have access to one weekly live session and unlimited text, video, and audio messaging. Unfortunately, BetterHelp does not accept insurance — but don't cross it off the list just yet. Financial aid is available to those who qualify, and rates can be as low as $40. You'll need to fill out a financial aid form to see if you qualify, but it's certainly worth exploring if you think BetterHelp is the better fit for you.
BetterHelp vs. Talkspace: Sign-Up Process
The sign-up process for Talkspace begins in a private chat room, where a licensed mental health professional will ask you questions about the issues you're dealing with and what you hope to get out of therapy. You'll then be given a list of several therapists who may be a good match for you. If the first therapist you're paired with doesn't end up being the right match, you can always switch.
When signing up for BetterHelp, you'll complete a questionnaire in order to explain what issues and goals you want to address in therapy. The questionnaire also allows you to specify what type of counselor you'd feel most comfortable working with (for example, you can note if you prefer a woman or man, or a provider in a certain age bracket). Like Talkspace, BetterHelp allows you to switch providers easily if the first match doesn't work out.