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As mental health awareness continues to spread, online therapy is rapidly gaining traction as a mainstream option for receiving professional counseling. The increased popularity of this industry has given way for several companies to dominate the space, battling for customers and market dominance in an increasingly competitive space. Two of the leading providers, who share the majority of the market and have the best reputations are BetterHelp and Talkspace.
These two companies have much in common as they essentially offer the exact same competitive service. However, one cannot ignore the areas of differentiation that, without a doubt, impact the overall experience they provide their customers. While individual preferences certainly play an important role when it comes to determining which service is better, there are factors which tend to be objective, such as price, value, and convenience. The detailed comparison below outlines the primary features and selling points of each service, with the intention of helping users navigate these differences, to help them decide between the two services based on their individual needs.
Comparison of BetterHelp and Talkspace
|Price||$65 per week||$99 per week|
|Number of Therapists||11,000||3,000|
|Video Sessions on Mobile|
|Video Sessions on Desktop|
|Learn More||Learn More|
Both BetterHelp and Talkspace are well-priced as compared to the cost of traditional in-office therapy (which can run upwards of $400 per session).
BetterHelp’s therapy plan costs $65 per week for unlimited therapy, while Talkspace’s comparable plan costs $99 per week. Talkspace offers a 10% discount for customers that commit to a 3-month plan and 20% for those that commit to 6 months. While Talkspace does offer lower-priced plans ($65 and $79), they do not include weekly live sessions without which the value and effectiveness of online therapy are greatly diminished. Though the difference in price between the two companies is negligible, with BetterHelp being mere dollars less, overall both are considerably more cost-effective than in-office therapy.
All therapists on both platforms are licensed professionals. Since each company uses an algorithm to pair you with a therapist based on your customized questionnaire during the signup process, it is technically possible to be matched up with a therapist with whom you don’t have good chemistry. However, you can always request an alternate therapist that better suits you.
The biggest difference between the two is that BetterHelp lists the profiles of many of their therapists on their website, enabling you to request a specific therapist if you choose. This transparency enables for not just a more selective approach for the customer, but also a more personalized experience which is a necessary component of therapy. Though the number of therapists on each platform can change from day to day, it appears that BetterHelp typically has approximately 20% more overall therapists on their platform.
Very little can be said about the actual quality differentials of therapists on these platforms, as each of the companies have their own strict standards and guidelines. BetterHelp requires each therapist applicant complete a case study exam by a licensed clinician, as well as undergo a video interview. This 4-5-week rigorous process results in a 15% acceptance rate to join the platform. Talkspace on the other hand, requires all of their therapists to have logged over 3,000 hours of clinical experience in order to join their platform.
Although Talkspace has tried to close the apparent technology gap between themselves and BetterHelp by introducing an option for live video sessions via its mobile app, it’s still falling behind. In addition to a messaging board, which both platforms offer, BetterHelp provides its users with live chat and video sessions through both desktop and mobile devices, and phone sessions, while Talkspace does not. Pertaining to technological advantages in this regard, BetterHelp is much more apt in their communication options for its users.
Security and Confidentiality:
Both of these two companies take immense pride in their ability to provide safety and security to their customers, as well as ensuring the confidentiality of their sensitive personal information throughout their use of the platform.
BetterHelp and Talkspace are both legally bound by US federal and state laws when it comes protection of health information, just as any traditional therapy provider. They are therefore HIPAA certified, and use 256-bit symmetric encryption for every piece of information that you type or say on their platforms.
That being said, Talkspace has received some significant criticism lately regarding the confidentiality of private sessions on their platform. While statements from executives at the company have convincingly disputed these allegations, it does appear that the private session data of their users are not impenetrable as one would expect from a company dealing with such sensitive information.
User Interface and Usability:
BetterHelp and Talkspace both invest heavily in constantly improving the overall user experience of their apps and online platforms. BetterHelp offers a very simple and easy-to-use interface for both desktop and mobile users. Once you’ve logged in, you’ll be taken straight to the private chat room with your therapist where you can easily initiate a conversation. Here, you can make requests, ask questions, and schedule future sessions with therapists.
If you don’t want to stay logged in to the platform all the time, you can opt to receive email updates whenever your therapist replies to you or sends a message. Aside from this, it’s very easy to engage with your therapist via video chat or voice call from both desktop and mobile (though of course, you’ll need a microphone and webcam to do so via desktop.)
Talkspace seems to place more focus on its mobile app experience than its website experience. This is due to the fact that its CEO recognized that one of the main challenges in seeking therapy is finding the time in our hectic, modern-day schedules.
The Talkspace app, which is predominantly used by their customers over the desktop version, is available on iOS and Android. It is an easy and intuitive to navigate platform, even for less technically savvy customers. One critical feature that is only available on their app is their video conferencing. This app-only feature essentially makes their app the default therapy channel for their customers as desktop users cannot access real-time communication features via the website.
When searching for online therapy services and you will undoubtedly return both BetterHelp and Talkspace in your results everywhere. However, Talkspace has really done a fantastic job with brand awareness. And while BetterHelp is no pushover (mentions in WSJ, Fox, and BBC), they pale in comparison to what Talkspace has accomplished in the press – both offline and online.
From massive media outlets to social media influencers, along with securing Michael Phelps as a company spokesperson, Talkspace has received an impressive amount of press. While being an established brand does not necessarily correlate with quality or customer satisfaction, it certainly does add a level of comfort knowing that you’re working with a well-known company that cannot afford to cut corners and tarnish their hard-earned reputation.
Both Talkspace and BetterHelp are accredited by the Better Business Bureau (BBB), though BetterHelp far surpasses Talkspace when it comes to their online reputations. They have a 4-star average rating on Reviewopedia and Glassdoor, while Talkspace has 3 stars. BetterHelp also has thousands more online reviews than Talkspace, across dozens of websites. This may be the result of having a more talented PR team, but given how much Talkspace invests in media coverage, it’s unlikely.
It’s important to be able to contact customer support if you have a technical issue about the platform, a billing question or would like to discuss your experience.
There is no significant difference between the customer support services that each of the two platforms offer. Both allow you to submit questions or feedback. BetterHelp has an online form while Talkspace has a similar experience through a ticketing system, which is easier to track in your account dashboard.
Both provide online resources which can help work through many of the typical issues one might encounter. BetterHelp has this in the form of an FAQ section whereas Talkspace has a thorough resource they call the knowledgebase, which are only different in their names.
The only noticeable difference is that BetterHelp provides an email address directly on their contact page. It might have been considered an advantage had Talkspace’s ticketing system not been so consistently responsive.
Typically, you’ll receive a response within 24 hours during the week on both platforms – though these times can be much shorter when contacting them during business hours (note: BetterHelp is based in California and Talkspace is based in New York).
Both companies accept the same type of payments, the majority of which are popular credit cards like Visa, MasterCard, and American Express. You can also pay using PayPal. Neither company is accepting cryptocurrency payments yet.
The most important factors when choosing an online therapy provider are price, usability, communication options, and the experience of their therapists. BetterHelp is slightly less expensive and with regard to their therapists, both of these providers use trained and licensed therapists that are accepted only if they meet strict guidelines and standards.
In terms of communication, BetterHelp gives more options for live interaction with the therapists making it a much more convenient platform. Lastly, when it comes to the reputation of the companies themselves as well as their therapists, there is much information, press and therefore greater transparency with BetterHelp. Both companies provide a good overall service and experience, but all things considered, BetterHelp comes out on top in the areas that matter most.