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Breakthrough is an online therapy service that has seen incredible success since launching in 2009. Though they can certainly be considered one of the companies that have pioneered the industry, new fast-growing therapy brands such as BetterHelp and Faithful Counseling have begun to lead the pack. So the question is, does Breakthrough really provide an outstanding service or have they gotten to where they are by simply being the first to enter this fledgling industry? Here’s an in-depth review of Breakthrough to help sift through all of the information.
Like other online therapy giants, Breakthrough was also bought out by a major telehealth company called MDLIVE. Why is this important? Take a look at the board of directors: a former CEO of Apple and Pepsi-Cola, a former President of HJ Heinz, a managing director of Heritage Group, etc. Generally speaking, when such talented people are involved in the creation of a product or service, you can expect the best of the best. As such, it is no surprise that Breakthrough offers a variety of top level video platforms for its customers (VSEE, Adobe, and Frozen Mountain). This is just one of several benefits users receive when using the Breakthrough platform. Moreover, it also isn’t surprising that Breakthrough is already providing online therapy to 30,000 customers each month, with over 1,000 therapists active within the platform.
Signing up for a Breakthrough account was very straightforward and simple. Provide your name, email, address and phone number, and then you are taken to a welcome page with a message from a Breakthrough rep. You can reply to the Breakthrough representative or you can start browsing through the therapists. And, here is where you see yet another benefit by using Breakthrough. You can sift through the therapists by location, what insurance they take, or their specialties (stress, anxiety, depression, etc.). Once you have chosen the therapist, you can interact with the therapist via the message/chat box in order to set an appointment time. Here, again, is a Breakthrough stand out feature. Whereas with other online therapy services you find a time that works best via chat, Breakthrough instead has implemented a calendar system. Within the on-screen calendar, simply choose a date and time that’s good for you and the therapist will approve it. If it doesn’t work for them, they will “counteroffer” with a new date and time on the on-screen calendar. When a time has been confirmed, log into your account and you are ready to use the Breakthrough platform—via chat, video, or the Breakthrough mobile app (iOS or Android). It’s one of the easiest to use platforms I have come across.
I won’t beat around the bush. On the surface, the Breakthrough pricing options seem exorbitant. Due to the fact that it’s a bidding-type system, therapists set their own price. These sessions cost roughly $50 to $400 per hour depending on which therapist you choose. Expensive? Yes, and no. Yes, especially compared to other services like BetterHelp and TalkSpace as can be seen in our online therapy reviews. No because in-office therapists cost the same. But, that’s not all. Breakthrough is the only online therapy service that works with most major insurance plans. Should you rely on your insurance instead of paying directly out of pocket, make sure to find out if and how much your plan covers you for, and to speak to an insurance professional to help you manage the cost of treatment over time.
Usability (Desktop & Mobile):
Since many of the Breakthrough board members come from the technology sector, I expected excellent user experience throughout all communication channels – chat, phone support, mobile app, video, and email, and that’s precisely what I got. Signing up for an account is simple. Scheduling an appointment is simple. Chatting through their multiple channels is simple. Everything is laid out in a clear and concise format. Moreover, I should note that their mobile app is one of the top rated online therapy apps on the market. Whether you use it for live video streaming or chat based support, I would go as far as saying the Breakthrough mobile app is second to none.
Counselor Support & Effectiveness:
Like Presto Experts, customers scroll through a list of therapists by location, provider type (Psychiatrist, Psychologist, Marriage Counselor, etc.), insurance acceptance, or specialty (stress, anxiety, etc.). All of the counselors are certified professionals and go through a very detailed application process prior to being approved to offer counseling services to customers. In fact, Breakthrough makes it known to their customers that top level counseling quality is their number one goal. Perhaps this is the reason why every therapist makes note of the ‘intimate’ support they provide within their profile. Additionally, to make sure you receive the best support possible, Breakthrough expects all of their therapists to conduct a minimum of five to fifteen sessions per month on their platform. This ensures they stay ‘fresh’ by giving hands-on support to their clientele. In addition to this, 24 hour support is now available through the MDLive call center.
Also, Breakthrough offers very helpful tools that show just how effective their service is. Putting aside the fact that over 80% of Breakthrough customers mentioned that they have seen improvement in their mental health state, Breakthrough offers two psychological assessment tests on their website – the DASS-21 and the Holmes-Rahe tests. These measure your depressions, anxiety and stress levels, and assesses the risk of stress related illnesses based on recent life changes.
As for further effectiveness measures: when I tested out Breakthrough, I chose Arielle Handler (LPC) as she gave a great rate ($90/hour), and her specialties included anxiety and stress. The only downside was that she did not accept insurance, but to be honest, $85/hour was much cheaper than paying the $150/hour I was used to forking over for an in-office appointment. Arielle helped me challenge myself, particularly my recurring negative thought patterns and how to overcome them, in addition to assisting me with my coping skills. After a few short sessions, I was able to ‘break through’ all of the negativity affecting my daily life. Her professionalism, empathy and experience made a massive difference over a 14-day period.
Confidentiality & Privacy:
Aside from BetterHelp, Breakthrough is, hands down, the online therapy leader in confidentiality and privacy. Breakthrough is HIPAA compliant, and both chat and video sessions are completely encrypted. Furthermore, none of your sessions are ever recorded or stored by Breakthrough. They do, however, mention that they have access to your actual usage that they monitor, which is normal for an online therapy service to track. But, as stated, they do offer confidential communications to their customers.
Breakthrough’s Counselor Qualifications:
Unfortunately, Breakthrough doesn’t make many mentions regarding the evaluation process of their therapists. This is unfortunate because they do in fact heavily vet every therapist that signs up to use their platform. Therapists that provide e-counseling through Breakthrough need to show activity as a certified professional. They cannot simply provide support every once in a while. As noted above, they need to conduct at least 5-15 hours of therapy services through Breakthrough each month. Moreover, they need to have up to date licensed credentials in their state. From PhD’s and LPC’s to LMFT’s and PsyD’s (among many others), Breakthrough provides a range of therapists in various fields.
Specialties & Areas of Expertise:
Breakthrough therapists specialize in as many areas as the therapists in the BetterHelp service. However, their primary specialties are in these fields:
- Bipolar Disorders
- Child and Adolescent Issues
- Eating Disorders
- Grief and Loss
- Life Changes
- Men’s Issues
- Panic Disorders
- Parenting Issues
- Postpartum Depression
- Relationship and Marriage Issues
- Trauma and PTSD
- Women’s Issues
Breakthrough offers a state of the art technological platform that makes many other online therapy services envious. Furthermore, they accept many insurance plans which a major benefit to countless individuals. The fact that they help 30,000 individuals a month to live better speaks for itself. With over an 80% success rate and a corporate like mentality in providing real effective counseling, Breakthrough is leading the charge in many areas of online therapy.
Pros & Cons
- Video and chat sessions
- Easy to use appointment scheduler
- HIPAA compliant
- More expensive than other options