Advantages and disadvantages of both
At a time when virtually any human need can be met through a digital interaction or transaction, it is not surprising that online mental health services are growing in popularity.
Two of the better known telemedicine providers Talkspace and BetterHelp, both of which provide online access to therapists for a wide range of mental health services.
If you want to know how they compare, we’ve got it covered. In this article, we’re going to take a closer look at what both have to offer, what they cost, and what both of them do best.
One of the advantages of online therapy is the lower cost compared to traditional face-to-face therapy. With that in mind, here is a cost comparison between BetterHelp and Talkspace.
- $ 65 / week for unlimited text, video, or audio messaging and one weekly live session
- billed monthly ($ 260 / month)
- financial help available (prices start at $ 40)
- Benefits that are not covered by many insurance plans, Medicare or Medicaid
- accepts credit and debit cards as well as Google Pay
- $ 65 / week for text, video, and audio messages with five replies per week from a therapist
- $ 79 / week for text, video, and audio messages with five responses per week from a therapist plus one live video session per month
- $ 99 / week for text, video, and audio messaging with five responses per week from a therapist plus four live video sessions per month
- no sliding scale
- Discounts when paying semi-annually or quarterly
- covered by some insurance plans
- Benefits available through some employee support programs (EAP)
- Benefits offered by some colleges, universities, and student organizations
Both providers follow a similar process for registration. However, they differ slightly in how they fit a therapist.
On both platforms, a first questionnaire asks about you, your life, your goals and preferences.
BetterHelp’s admission process is automated, and finding a therapist using algorithms and artificial intelligence can feel a little robotic. In contrast, Talkspace’s recording is processed by a matching agent who is a licensed therapist. From time to time, however, scripted responses are part of the interaction.
Once the enrollment process is complete, you will be presented with several options for your therapist, all of which are licensed, accredited, and experienced. If none of the games suit you, then you can ask about others.
Once you’ve chosen a therapist, both services create a secure virtual therapy room. Here you can leave messages, upload documents, video and audio files and otherwise interact with your therapist.
Talkspace enables you to preview a typical therapy journey. So before you begin, you have an idea of the milestones, checkpoints, progress reports, and ways to customize your growth plan.
According to both providers, you can change therapists or cancel therapy at any time.
Both providers offer plenty of blog content that addresses a wide range of topics related to mental health, wellness, and personal growth. Many of the resources are available for free.
Special features of Talkspace
- The sign up platform offers several short videos that explain each step of the process.
- Document your clinical progress with an online symptom tracker.
- It provides an interface to Happify, a science-based app for promoting happiness.
- The EAP programs provide resources for financial wellbeing, legal advice, and work life planning.
- Talkspace also announced a new mental health service for people in need of both mental health care and prescription management. Staffed by psychiatrists and nurses, Talkspace Psychiatry offers an initial review for $ 199. Follow-up visits cost $ 125 per session. You can choose therapy, psychiatry, or both.
It is important to note, however, that Talkspace Psychiatry providers cannot prescribe controlled substances such as:
- Lithium and others
Special features of BetterHelp
- You have weekly access to over 20 interactive live group sessions moderated by therapists.
- It gives you the option to speak to your therapist on the phone while Talkspace does not offer phone contact as it cites security and HIPAA (patient privacy) protocols.
- It also runs a sister site, TeenCounseling.com, which enables parents to participate in the selection of a therapist for their child. The counseling is confidential and only your child has access to the therapy room, but your child’s therapist will notify you when it is time for an intervention.
The short, science-based answer is yes.
Several studies indicate that for many people online therapy is just as effective at relieving symptoms and helping people feel better as in-person therapy. Most of the studies have focused on patients with symptoms of depression or anxiety.
In a 2014 clinical study, researchers randomly assigned people with symptoms of depression to either online or face-to-face therapy. The treatments and time frames were identical, as were the results.
In fact, those who received online therapy were still doing well three months after stopping therapy, while those who received in-person therapy reported worsening symptoms.
A 2015 review of 11 studies found that computer-based cognitive behavioral therapy sessions were effective at reducing both anxiety and depression symptoms.
Definitely not. While online therapy can be useful and helpful, it is not suitable for every psychological situation.
Both Talkspace and BetterHelp clearly state that these platforms are not the best resource if you need urgent help or emergency assistance. If you think of harming yourself or someone else, immediate help is available by calling the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255.
These online platforms are also not designed to provide services to children. However, Talkspace does offer counseling to teens ages 13-18 with parental consent, and BetterHelp offers counseling to teens through its partner site TeenCounseling.
According to both platforms, they are also unable to provide legal documents for court-ordered therapy or disability programs. Additionally, if you have been asked for advice by your employer or school, they may not be a viable option.
And then there is the simple question of personal preference. You can be successful on an online platform that allows you to pour your heart out at 3 a.m. Or you prefer real-time confirmation of eye contact and face-to-face interaction.
Both therapy platforms offer something critically important: lower costs, convenient access to licensed, experienced psychiatrists. However, there are some key differences between these two providers.
If you need to use your insurance plan, EAP, or work or student organization benefits to pay for therapy, Talkspace may be a better option for you. If you think you might need prescription medication to manage your symptoms, Talkspace Psychiatry offers that option, but BetterHelp doesn’t.
When it comes to ease of use and the overall quality of the interactive experience, Talkspace’s platform offers a great dashboard with plenty of ways to track your progress. Upon first signing in, you will be paired with a live matching agent the first time you interact, creating a sense of human contact from the get-go.
If you need financial help, BetterHelp offers that option. Plus, the basic plan is cheaper than Talkspace’s plan with video conferencing. Additionally, BetterHelp allows you to talk to your therapist on the phone, an option Talkspace doesn’t offer.
BetterHelp and Talkspace are online therapy platforms that bring you together with a licensed, accredited and experienced therapist to provide counseling services.
You can text, audio, or video messages and get replies to your therapist for much less money than a typical face-to-face counseling session. Depending on your plan, you can also interact with your therapist through weekly or monthly video counseling sessions.
Talkspace accepts multiple insurance plans and offers benefits through numerous employee support programs and student organizations. BetterHelp, on the other hand, offers a tiered fee schedule for people with limited incomes.
If you are in imminent danger, these platforms are not a good place to seek help. They are also not a good option for people who are receiving court-ordered, school or work-related psychological counseling.