When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, many of us found ourselves switching from in-person therapy to virtual sessions with our providers. But virtual therapy is nothing new, as the two most popular platforms, Talkspace and BetterHelp, were founded in 2012 and 2013, respectively. Studies have shown that online therapy platforms are as effective as in-person therapy, and they are especially useful for people who have difficulty commuting to a therapist’s office.
If you are trying to choose between BetterHelp and Talkspace, it is important to know that one is not inherently “better” than the other. Instead, there are fundamental differences between the two that should be taken into account when making your decision. Below is a breakdown of these differences.
BetterHelp vs. Talkspace: Therapy and Psychiatric Services
BetterHelp and Talkspace match you with a licensed therapist, with whom you can communicate 24/7 through the platforms’ messaging services or in real time during scheduled sessions. However, one of the main differences between the two is that Talkspace offers psychiatric services to those who need treatment and medication to control their symptoms. Talkspace may not be able to fill all of your prescriptions, though. Specifically, no controlled substance, such as Adderall, Xanax, Klonopin, or Lithium, can be prescribed by Talkspace.
BetterHelp vs. Talkspace: Special Features
Each platform has unique features. The question to ask yourself when choosing between the two is what features will be most beneficial to your mental health and treatment regimen.
When you are a member of BetterHelp, you will have weekly access to over 20 live group sessions run by therapists. You also have the option to speak with your therapist on the phone, a feature that Talkspace does not offer. If you are a parent looking for 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 an in-person consultation, your child’s virtual sessions are confidential, and they are the only ones with access to the “treatment room”. However, the therapist will send you an alert if your child is a danger to themselves or others and an intervention is needed.
In addition to Talkspace’s psychiatry services, some special features of the platform 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 face-to-face sessions per month. Discounts are offered if you sign up for quarterly or semi-annual payments. Some insurance plans cover Talkspace, so be sure to ask your insurance provider if the platform qualifies under your benefits.
BetterHelp is a little more affordable, with plans ranging from $60 to roughly $90 per week. For example, for $65 a week, you’ll have access to one weekly live session and unlimited text, video, and voice messages. 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 up to $40. You’ll need to fill out a financial aid form to see if you qualify, but it’s definitely worth exploring if you think BetterHelp is right for you.
BetterHelp vs. Talkspace: Signup Process
The Talkspace sign-up process 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 gain from treatment. You will then be given a list of several therapists who may be a good fit for you. If the first processor you were paired with isn’t the right choice, you can always switch.
When you sign up for BetterHelp, you will complete a questionnaire explaining the issues and goals you want to address in treatment. The questionnaire also allows you to decide what type of counselor you feel most comfortable working with (for example, you can note whether you prefer a woman or a man, or a provider in a certain age group). Like Talkspace, BetterHelp allows you to easily switch between providers if the first match doesn’t work.