7 Things to Consider Before Joining BetterHelp

Posted By: Hayley Twyman Brack

A therapist in a blue plaid shirt and jeans scrolls on a smart phone

Pictured above: A therapist in a blue plaid shirt and jeans scrolls on a smart phone

As explored in a previous article outlining the company TalkSpace, the advent of the global pandemic has led to an increase in mental health difficulties in Americans, as well as the use of online therapeutic services like BetterHelp. In this article, information from the company’s website, reports by therapeutic blogs, and statements provided by an Oklahoma-based former BetterHelp clinician are explored. Here’s what to consider before contracting with BetterHelp.

What is BetterHelp?
Like TalkSpace, BetterHelp is an online therapeutic service. Unlike TalkSpace, BetterHelp markets itself as traditional therapy, though the company reports it is selective in regards to the severity and types of symptoms the service caters to. Clients pay a weekly fee to access therapeutic services, such as weekly 30-50 minute video or phone therapy sessions and unlimited texting with their therapist.

The Work Schedule
The company advertises that therapists are able to set their own work schedules. Though the website advertises “24/7” messaging for clients, there was no indication that therapists were expected to be available at all hours of the day.

The Work Load
According to BetterHelp’s site, “part time” status means a clinician is working anywhere between 5 and 30 hours per week, while “full time” status ranges from 30 to 50 hours. The company reports that therapists are able to set their own schedules and decide their own work load, though it appears to be unclear as to what constitutes an hour “clocked” for work (ex. how or if paperwork or texting counts towards hours worked).

Communication with Clients
In BetterHelp’s base plan, it appears as though clients are offered unlimited texting with their therapist and up to four video sessions with their therapist each month. According to the company’s website, therapists and clients communicate via a HIPAA-compliant virtual office software.

According to a pay scale on BetterHelp’s website, the amount of pay a therapist receives per hour worked increases with the number of hours worked each week. For example, if a therapist were to only work 5 hours per week with BetterHelp, their estimated pay would be $7,800 per year, which equates to $30 per hour. If a therapist worked 40 hours per week, according to the pay scale that therapist would earn $100,100 per year, which equates to over $48 per hour. However, BetterHelp reports that they do not guarantee minimum earnings for therapists and the FAQ page reveals little information in regards to how hours are calculated. Posts from the website Glass Door reveal the common rate for therapists contracting with BetterHelp is $29-31 per hour. Though the company’s website reports that therapists are not employees, likely indicating they are contractors, it also advertises that therapists who choose to take on a 40-hour per week workload or higher may be eligible to receive stipends for benefits, such as health insurance and dental.

According to a statement by an Oklahoma-based former BetterHelp therapist who spoke on the condition of anonymity, it was difficult to maintain a full caseload due to there not being enough Oklahoma-based clients. According to BetterHelp, part of the therapist matching process is assuring that the therapist has the proper credentials to see clients, which likely includes assuring that the clinician is licensed in the state in which the client resides. However, it appears as though therapists may also be matched with international clients. It is unclear if it is the responsibility of the clinician or BetterHelp to assure that clinicians are eligible to render services to international clients. Taking into consideration the therapist’s report, it may be difficult to maintain a client load if a clinician is only licensed in Oklahoma.

Ethics and Service
According to an article on Choosing Therapy, BetterHelp screens potential clients in an attempt to make sure the counseling service is suitable. For example, if a potential client indicates experiencing recent suicidal thoughts in their intake paperwork, they are alerted that BetterHelp would not be a suitable option for them and are referred to crisis lines. According to BetterHelp’s FAQ page, the company is not suitable for clients experiencing life threatening crises or emergency situations, cases of severe mental illness, court ordered therapy, or minors.
Check out our previous article, 7 Thinks to Consider Before Joining TalkSpace