MDLive Counseling Review
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Founded in 2009, MDLive is one of the largest telehealth providers in the United States. In 2014, it acquired online therapy provider Breakthrough, and absorbed it into its robust offering of virtual health services. So the question is, does MDLive really provide an outstanding service or have they gotten to where they are by simply acquiring one of the first companies in the industry? Here’s an in-depth review of MDLive Counseling to help sift through all of the information.
Signing up for an MDLive 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 rep. You can then reply or you can start browsing through the therapists. And, here is where you see yet another benefit by using MDLive. 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 using a scheduler. 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 MDLive platform—via chat, video, or the mobile app (iOS or Android). It’s one of the easiest to use platforms I have come across.
On the surface, the MDLive pricing seems to be a little on the high side, with sessions costing $108 each. Expensive? Yes, and no. Yes, when compared to other services like BetterHelp and Talkspace. No, because in-office therapists cost about the same. However, MDLive 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.
Usability (Desktop & Mobile):
Since many of the MDLive 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 their mobile app among the best.
Counselor Support & Effectiveness:
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, MDLive 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, MDLive 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.
When I tested out MDLive, I chose Arielle Handler (LPC), and her specialties included anxiety and stress. The only downside was that she did not accept insurance. 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:
MDLive is HIPAA compliant, and both chat and video sessions are completely encrypted. Furthermore, none of your sessions are ever recorded or stored. 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.
MDLive’s Counselor Qualifications:
Unfortunately, MDLive 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 counseling through MDLive 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 the platform 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), MDLive provides a range of therapists in various fields.
Specialties & Areas of Expertise:
MDLive’s counseling service focuses on these fields:
- Aging & Caregiver Support
- Grief and Loss
- LGBTQ+ Support
- Life Changes
- Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
- Panic Disorders
- Parenting Support
- Relationship Issues
- Stress Management
- Trauma and PTSD
They also offer sessions with psychiatrists as part of a separate service, which includes prescribing medications.
MDLive offers a state-of-the-art psychotherapy platform that is covered by many insurance plans. They connect thousands of clients with licensed therapists among many other medical professionals. If however, your are not covered by insurance, you can probably save a couple of hundred dollars per month using one of the other online therapy providers.
Pros & Cons
- Video and chat sessions
- Easy to use appointment scheduler
- More expensive than other options