Print Posted on 04/24/2017 in Online Counseling

BetterHelp vs TalkSpace: A Former Therapists' In-Depth Review with Ratings (Part 1)

BetterHelp vs TalkSpace: A Former Therapists' In-Depth Review with Ratings (Part 1)

For many people seeking therapy, seeing a counselor in a traditional, face-to-face session may not be a workable option. If you are facing a long wait before starting with a counselor, are relocating or unable to travel to appointments, or just prefer the ability to communicate with a counselor from your home, online counseling may be a perfect option. While online counseling isn’t for everyone, is it available and generally less expensive than paying out-of-pocket for traditional therapy.

We signed up with both and spent a month getting to know them in a two part series. If you want to cut to the chase we also give a summary chart below:

* OpenCounseling has affiliate partnerships. These do not influence editorial content, though OpenCounseling may earn commissions based on you following affiliate links.

Our Pick

Web Experience
Mobile Experience
Sign-Up Process
Messaging (not real-time) Experience
Real-Time Interaction Experience
$35/week, which include one free 20-minute call per month.

Extra calls at $29 per 20 minutes
$32/week for 1 therapist check-in per day

$39/week for 2 therapist check-ins per day

$49/week for 2 therapist check-ins per day + 1 Live Session/month
Trial Period

Refund if not satisfied in trial period

No Trial Period or Refund

Our Pick: BetterHelp

* is an online therapy service provider that links consumers with licensed mental health professionals based on the results of an intake assessment. When you start, you’ll be asked to complete a brief quiz that identifies the issue at hand and how you are feeling about it. Once you are completed with this, Betterhelp states that you’ll be linked with a counselor in about 24 hours (although this may take longer in some cases). The assessment takes less than 10 minutes to complete and I was referred to a counselor within the stated timeframe. While this process worked well for my issue, the lack of direct communication and wait time might be more of an concern for someone facing an immediate crisis as it was fairly impersonal.

TalkSpace is another online service provider that offers a similar array of services – both of these companies work exclusively with licensed mental health professionals. Unlike Betterhelp, the TalkSpace assessment process is a bit more interactive. You’ll be linked to live chat with a therapist who will ask questions, screen your responses, and guide you through the sign-up process. While this seems great on the surface, my experience with this was a little frustrating. My assessment was filled with long gaps between replies (some as long as 15 minutes), and I found myself repeating answers and asking if the therapist was still there more than once. Granted, this live service is available to anyone who indicates an interest in the service, which means you aren’t paying for the assessment. It leads me to believe that the assessment providers are dealing with multiple customers at once. As a client, I could easily have given up without completing the assessment based on these waits. Like Betterhelp, once the assessment is done it takes about 24 hours to be linked to a therapist (although in my case it was a matter of hours).

For pricing, both services offer very similar options. Betterhelp ranges from $35 - $70 per week, with the lowest price including unlimited messaging to your therapist and higher rates offering some live chatting options. Talkspace starts at $32 per week for unlimited messaging with additional fees if a live session is scheduled. It should be noted that neither platform accepts insurance at this time. Both platforms state that the lowest rate allows for 1 – 2 responses per day from the therapist – however, in my experience, both of my therapists responded more frequently a few times during this period if I messaged them often. The wait time for responses is advertised as 24 hours or less, but I received messages throughout the day on both platforms, usually within a few hours of sending a message.

So far, the process of therapy has been a similar for both platforms. Online counseling has its challenges, but the quality of service I’ve received has been exceptional for both Talkspace and Betterhelp (both platforms also advertise the ability to switch to a new counselor, although I haven’t requested this). Asynchronous therapy is offered via a saved chat between you and your therapist, where messages are exchanged back and forth. 

Betterhelp  offers video, voice, text and real-time chat options. Talkspace offers both a free, 10-minute live video meeting with the therapist upon starting and the option to record and listen to audio messages. This helped me create a strong bond with the therapist, even if we’ve only met once, as I’ve felt more able to connect to that person and hear their voice from time to time.

In general, the experience on both platforms has been better than I expected. One of the issues I’ve run into is of my own doing – remembering to reply and engage with my therapist frequently. While sending 1 – 2 daily messages may not seem like much, it does take time to think about and send replies, and I’ve caught myself moving this to the bottom of my to-do list more than once. If you’re considering online therapy, know that it is a commitment that will require daily interactions and responses.

At this point, my therapists and I are just exiting the assessment and getting to know one another phases. In Part 2 of this series, I’ll share some additional thoughts on the therapy process, the termination stage, and other guidelines for making online therapy work for you.



Interactive Affordable Counseling Guide

Tell Us 3 Simple Things:
- Do you need individual or couples counseling?
- Do you have insurance?
- What is your weekly budget?

Find Out:
- How to choose between counseling agencies, private practice and online therapy.
- How expensive will it be?
- Can I choose my therapist?
- Do they offer marriage counseling?
- Can I use insurance
- Your "Best-Bet" choice.

Take the Quiz

Follow Us

Get the latest tips and how-to's on affordable counseling.