While many people have been touting e-counseling as the future of therapy, there are still some sizable hurdles the industry must overcome. One of the stand out issues is the technology behind the platform. Very few online therapy services have been able to offer a complete and user friendly service. So what happens when an Internet technology company gets into the industry? From the technical side, you know you will be navigating through a tier-one platform. This is essentially the story of Presto Experts. But, does the advanced technology translate into an all-around, high quality online counseling platform? Let’s find out!
As was alluded to above, Presto Experts was started by LivePerson – a massive IT conglomerate based out of New York City. With over 1,000 employees, of which most deal with technological upgrades to the various services they offer, people have come to expect exceptional functionality from them. This is precisely what happened when they launched Presto Experts. There were no issues, no bugs, no downtime. This is the primary factor that propelled them to stardom in the e-counseling industry. Since their launch in 2013, they have signed over 30,000 registered experts that help in over 600 categories. However, this is a bit misleading since most of their help categories are outside the scope of online therapy. The real numbers are over 500 licensed professionals in the counseling and health categories.
Presto Experts intuitive website makes signing up for an account a breeze. Once you get to the home page, you are greeted by a large and centered sign up box. Simply enter your email address, describe your need(s), and choose your category and sub-category (‘counseling,’ ‘relationship issues’ for example). You are then taken to another page where you narrow it down (give them a bit more information) in order to find the expert who best meets your needs. Once you have done so, a message will arrive to your email that you have successfully signed up, whereby you can choose the right expert from a list of certified professionals in the area you need help with. After you are paired with your counselor, you can choose multiple ways to communicate – via chat, phone, or email. One thing to keep in mind: Presto Experts default communication method is email, but you can request the other options.
In the interest of fairness and straightforwardness, Presto Experts is expensive compared to other tier-one online therapy services. Sometimes, though, a high price is justified. The issue here is that justification is subjective. So, I went off my own experience with them along with a few thousand other real Presto Experts reviews. As Presto Experts offers counselors in different fields and various levels of experience, pricing fluctuates from counselor to counselor. You can expect to pay anywhere between $1 to $3 per minute, per session. If the average person communicates twice per week for a total of 60 minutes, the average cost is about $120 per week – roughly two to three times the price of other leading online therapy services such as BetterHelp and TalkSpace. However, more than 90% of Presto Experts users are extremely satisfied with their service, even given their price, and are happy to pay a premium given the level of support they receive. Additionally, it is worth noting that Presto Experts is the only online therapy service that bills you after the session has been completed (rather than up front billing), and only after you have approved that you were satisfied with the service.
Usability (Desktop & Mobile):
As far as usability goes, Presto Experts is a bit of a conundrum. On the one hand, their platform seems geared toward users using a desktop computer. In this case, it is fantastic. Presto Experts has noticed that many people prefer email communication and thus you can receive help both on your desktop and mobile device from anywhere. But as it currently stands, Presto Experts does not have a dedicated chat room or a live chat application (which is ironic given that LivePerson’s main focus, as a company, is live chat support). While they are building out both a live chat function and a chat room to assist with future expansion, users are currently limited to email and phone support.
Counselor Support & Effectiveness:
The one major benefit that customers like about Presto Experts is that they literally scroll through a list and choose the therapist they want, rather than being paired automatically by the company’s algorithm. Since I needed help with my anxiety and stress, I looked in the ‘Health’ category and came across Ken Fields – a certified mental health counselor with over 25 years of experience. Moreover, I was able to see the different pricing each counselor was asking. Given Ken Fields background and positive reviews by over 1,800 other people, in addition to his reasonable pricing ($2.75/minute), I decided to go with him. First and foremost, he was very attentive and listened to me, approaching the session as a personal matter instead of a business-like call. Furthermore, I sometimes find that it’s hard expressing myself in the moment. While other therapists simply gave me exercises and potential solutions to my issues, Ken not only did that but he actually assisted me in helping to express myself in the proper way, which ultimately helped me pull away the smoke screen and see the core issues. Overall, I was beyond pleased with Ken’s professionalism and ability to help me that much after just one session.
Confidentiality & Privacy:
Being that Presto Experts parent company (LivePerson) is an Internet conglomerate, they don’t make much mention of their privacy controls because they are more focused on delivering a technologically advanced system to their users. This lack of privacy transparency is unfortunate since their privacy and confidentiality measures are mostly stellar. Chats are SSL encrypted during transmission which makes a breach extremely unlikely. You and your counselor can go back and view your chat history. As such, Presto Experts does in fact log and store your chat transcripts. But, these are stored on secure servers which are protected by multiple firewalls, role-based access controls and passwords.
Presto Experts Counselor Qualifications:
Presto Experts uses a long and drawn out application process for experts looking to join the platform. They specifically do not want any or all experts to join. They are looking to separate themselves from the rest of the online therapy services, and the first step in doing so is by providing the highest quality experts in the industry. All experts must be certified in their country of residence. The therapists have a background primarily in the counseling and psychology fields, but also have experience in others. Additionally, most (but not all) hold either a PhD or Master’s degree.
Specialties & Areas of Expertise:
While Presto Experts have experts in 600 categories, this isn’t applicable to anyone here. The two categories in focus are ‘Health’ and ‘Counseling’ – where Presto Experts have over 500 licensed professionals. While they cover many help categories, they don’t yet cover all. Below is a list of the key areas Presto Experts covers very well:
- All Addictions
- Educational Assessments
- Social Behavior
Presto Experts is undoubtedly a top rated online therapy service. Though the high price is frustrating compared to alternative choices, therapy isn’t the place to cut corners. Moreover, Presto Experts system is designed as a marketplace whereby you browse through a list of experts. You choose, the system doesn’t choose for you, as is the case with most other top online therapy services. This is a major benefit to many customers. With over 500 counselors and tens of thousands of positive reviews, Presto Experts is a go to destination for online therapy.