I’ve used Talkspace in the past to help manage my mental health and cope with difficult times (check out my full in-depth Talkspace review here), but this year during quarantine, I decided to try online therapy from their competitor, Betterhelp.
As a digital nomad, I definitely can’t commit to in-person therapy even when there isn’t a global pandemic. I love that I can take online therapy with me anywhere I go. If you’re considering online therapy you might be wondering what is the difference between Talkspace vs Betterhelp?
Here I compared my experience with both services to help you decide which is best for you.
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What is online therapy?
Both Talkspace and Betterhelp are platforms offering online therapy from licensed providers.
You are matched with a provider and communicate through asynchronous text chat, and/or audio chat, and/or audio or video calls. The platforms simply serve as a HIPPA compliant place to exchange your thoughts and feelings with a professional; the individual therapist you are matched with is pretty much entirely responsible for building the therapeutic relationship and working with you through a therapeutic modality (e.g. cognitive behavioral therapy).
Comparison of online therapy features
Touchpoints with the therapist
While Talkspace seems to have service-wide parameters on what to expect regarding touchpoints with your therapist (how often, how many video calls per month, etc.), Betterhelp seems to leave it up to the individual therapist.
I tried three different therapists on Betterhelp and found only one of them was not as responsive as I had hoped. On Talkspace, I did not encounter this problem; both therapists I worked with made it clear when and how often I could expect to hear back from them.
I felt overall, Betterhelp offered more resources outside of just the back-and-forth texting conversation with the therapist. They offered Groupinars and articles on mental health topics within the app. (Unfortunately, it looks like the Groupinars are all for EST so this doesn’t make it great for those outside the States.)
Because Betterhelp didn’t have a platform-wide limit on live sessions, live chats, etc. you can just schedule those with your counselor and it’s up to their discretion how often you do so. I liked this flexibility and wish Talkspace would take the same approach. However, I never actually met my therapists on Betterhelp through audio or video call! Meanwhile, I met both of my Talkspace therapists in an initial free short introductory video call.
Recently, it appears Talkspace has added a psychiatry feature. This means you can get prescribed medication to treat mental health disorders.
Chatting with the therapist
The actual experience of “doing” therapy was comparable when it came to Talkspace vs BetterHelp. In both cases, I worked with a therapist who engaged me more through conversation and asking questions. Then I later switched therapists and found someone who could provide me more structure and actionable advice.
I would say for both apps, your experience depends on your therapist. It’s up to them to establish a therapeutic relationship and work with you on your mental health goals in a way that best fits you.
Talkspace cost vs Betterhelp cost
If you sign up for the monthly billing of the cheapest plan, Betterhelp is $40 cheaper. Betterhelp is $220 and Talkspace is $260 per month.
Talkspace consistently offers great signup deals like their current offer of $80 off your first month but I haven’t seen anything like this from Betterhelp.
That said, Betterhelp’s plans include more opportunities for live sessions (whether by chat, call, or video call) than Talkspace’s.
The Talkspace pricing structure depends on how many live sessions you want with your therapist and how often you want to pay (monthly, quarterly, or biannually). They often have a signup discount (like right now you can get $80 off your first month).
Unlimited Messaging Therapy Plus – Includes text, video & audio messaging, therapist responds daily, 5 days per week
- Billed Monthly: $260
- Billed Quarterly: $708 every three months
- Billed Biannually: $1248 every six months
Unlimited Messaging Therapy Premium – Includes text, video & audio messaging, therapist responds daily, 5 days per week + 1 Live session per month (30 minutes each)
- Billed Monthly: $316
- Billed Quarterly: $852 every three months
- Billed Biannually: $1512 every six months
Unlimited Messaging Therapy Ultimate – Includes text, video & audio messaging, therapist responds daily, 5 days per week + 4 Live sessions per month (30 minutes each)
- Billed Monthly: $396
- Billed Quarterly: $1068 every three months
- Billed Biannually: $1896 every six months
The BetterHelp pricing structure just depends on how often you want to pay (weekly, monthly, or quarterly). All plans include unlimited texting, live chats, live phone calls, and live video calls.
- Billed weekly: $70 per week –> $280 per month
- Billed monthly: $220 per month
- Billed quarterly: $160 per month
Do Talkspace and Betterhelp take insurance?
The real question is are you covered for mental health counseling? Most health insurance plans (unfortunately and idiotically) do not include any coverage for this type of treatment. Or they do, but perhaps only after you’ve reached your deductible or you have to pay a copay.
If your insurance plan does cover this type of counseling, chances are you’ll have to pay out of pocket and ask for reimbursement from your insurance provider.
Neither Talkspace nor Betterhelp is covered by Medicare or Medicaid.
In Conclusion: Talkspace vs Betterhelp
The apps are pretty similar.
I think your experience depends largely on the counselor you work with and how you connect with him or her. Since both apps offer an easy and convenient way to switch therapists if you decide to, I would say they are really comparable in this way.
Betterhelp does seem to offer more opportunities for live sessions with your counselor, so if that’s something that’s important to you maybe BetterHelp is a better fit.
But if it were up to me, I would probably choose the service with the better signup discount, and that appears to consistently be Talkspace (it’s $80 off your first month currently).
BetterHelp vs Talkspace: The In-Depth Review of Pros, Cons & Cost from Zencare
BetterHelp vs Talkspace: A Therapist Reviews Both from OpenCounseling