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If you’re familiar with the increasingly popular telehealth space, you’ve likely heard of both Talkspace and BetterHelp. After all, they’re two of the largest and most widely used online therapy platforms on the market. Both Talkspace and BetterHelp allow users to access therapy sessions from the comfort of their own homes with qualified mental health clinicians via video, text, or audio chat. Due to its wider availability of services—including medication management—and acceptance of insurance, we selected Talkspace as the better online therapy pick overall.
To compare Talkspace and BetterHelp, we sent both companies a questionnaire and surveyed 105 users about their experiences with each of the platforms. We tested both services ourselves, and we also evaluated each online therapy service based on factors like cost, counselor qualifications, therapy types offered, and customer experience.
- Cost: $69–109 per week, billed on a monthly, quarterly, or biannual basis
- Accepts insurance? Yes
- Number of therapists: 3,000
Offers teen therapy and couples therapy as well as adult individual therapy
Psychiatry and medication management services available
Providers are guaranteed to respond at least 5 days per week
Available in all 50 U.S. states and Canada
No financial aid
Not available to children under 13
No group therapy available
Not as many providers available outside North America
Prices not entirely clear at first
Headquartered in New York City and founded in 2012 by married couple Oren and Roni Frank, Talkspace offers virtual psychotherapy sessions via smartphone, tablet, and desktop. Unlike many online therapy platforms, Talkspace accepts many major insurance providers, making mental health services accessible to those who cannot pay the national average of up to $200 out-of-pocket for therapy sessions.
Talkspace offers talk therapy for individuals, couples, and teens, as well as psychiatry services and sleep therapy for insomnia. The platform also accepts some insurance plans.
Depending on their subscription plan, Talkspace users can access unlimited asynchronous messaging and/or live video, text, and audio sessions with a licensed therapist in a private online “room.” Individual talk therapy is available to users ages 13 and up. Adults can also sign up for couples therapy, as well as psychiatry and medication management services with board-certified psychiatrists and nurse practitioners who specialize in psychiatry. Finally, the platform offers a unique eight-week sleep therapy program for people struggling with insomnia.
- Cost: $60–$90 per week, billed monthly
- Accepts insurance? No
- Number of therapists: 27,000+
All therapists are licensed
Available outside the U.S.
Live chat therapy sessions available
Affordable subscription plan options
Financial aid available
No psychiatric care or medication management
Doesn’t accept insurance
No teen counseling
No couples therapy
Prices vary by location
BetterHelp—an online therapy platform that offers live chat, phone, and video sessions with licensed and accredited therapists—was founded by Alon Matas and Danny Bragonier in 2013. In 2015, the company was acquired by Teladoc, Inc., which is the oldest telehealth company in the U.S.
BetterHelp focuses primarily on individual therapy and offers slightly more affordable subscription plans than Talkspace; however, it does not accept insurance and its services are limited to talk therapy for adults, with no psychiatry, medication management, or couples or teen therapy available.
Headquartered in Mountain View, California, BetterHelp bills itself as “the world’s largest therapy platform.” The company also operates a teen therapy service, TeenCounseling.com, and Regain, a couples therapy platform. However, BetterHelp itself is only available to individual users ages 18 and over.
Comparing Talkspace vs. BetterHelp
|% Users Rated Excellent, Very Good, or Good||97%||86%|
|Session Platforms||Video, audio, messaging, live chat||Video, audio, messaging, live chat|
|Price||$69-109 per week, billed on a monthly, quarterly, or biannual basis||$60-$90 per week, billed monthly|
|Offers Psychiatry||Yes; $249 for an initial evaluation, $125 for follow-up visits||No|
|App Available||iOS, Android||iOS, Android|
Talkspace vs. BetterHelp: Cost
Both Talkspace and BetterHelp are subscription-based services. BetterHelp users are billed every four weeks, whereas Talkspace users can choose to be billed on a monthly, quarterly, or biannual basis. You’ll save 10% if you select a quarterly plan and 20% if you decide on a biannual billing cycle. Sometimes, you can use an invitation code from the Talkspace website to save $100 on your first payment.
At Talkspace, you can choose to pay out-of-pocket or through your insurance plan. The company doesn’t offer financial aid. Available subscription plans for individual therapy at Talkspace include:
- Unlimited messaging only (5 days per week), starting at $69 per week
- Live therapy and messaging (unlimited messaging and 4 sessions per month), starting at $99 per week
- Live therapy, messaging, and workshops (unlimited messaging, 4 live sessions per month, and weekly online workshops), starting at $109 per week
You can cancel your Talkspace subscription at any time, but you won’t receive a refund if you’re only part of the way through the payment period. For example, if you’ve paid for a monthly subscription, you won’t get any money back if you cancel your plan after two weeks.
BetterHelp subscriptions cost between $60 and $90 per week (billed monthly, at $240-$360 per month), depending on your location and the number of available therapists in your area. A subscription typically includes one live therapy session per week, as well as unlimited messaging with your provider. You can cancel your membership at any time, no questions asked.
If you’re a student, a veteran, or experiencing financial strain, you may qualify for discounted rates at BetterHelp. According to the company representative who responded to our questionnaire, a commitment to offering financial aid is a key aspect of BetterHelp’s mission.
“Our mission to make mental healthcare accessible and affordable for all is rooted in social justice,” the BetterHelp representative told us. “To date, we've donated over $65 million in financial aid and over 7,500 months in free therapy to communities in need via our nonprofit partners. Accessibility and affordability for all is a core part of our mission.”
However, unlike Talkspace, BetterHelp practices surge pricing, meaning that the company charges more for mental health services in areas where there is a high demand for mental health care. This means that those living in places like New York or California will end up paying more for the same services provided in less populated and served areas.
Talkspace vs. BetterHelp: Insurance
Talkspace accepts many major insurance plans, including Cigna, Blue Cross Blue Shield, Aetna, GatorCare, and more.
Therapy at Talkspace is also covered by many employers, employee assistance plans (EAPs), and student healthcare providers, and sessions are HSA/FSA eligible. However, the company doesn’t currently accept Medicaid or Medicare.
BetterHelp doesn’t accept insurance, but you can pay for your sessions with your HSA/FSA card. The company’s FAQ page notes that BetterHelp’s out-of-pocket rates are lower than many typical co-pays for therapy.
Talkspace vs. BetterHelp: Website
When you enter the BetterHelp website, you’ll be greeted with the statement “You deserve to be happy.” The website states that the company is “the world’s largest therapy service, 100% online.” The homepage features a live running count of how many messages and therapy sessions have been completed through the platform, the number of available therapists, and how many people the company has served so far. As you scroll down, you’ll see a brief description of how online therapy at BetterHelp works, a checklist comparing online therapy to in-person therapy, and a list of frequently asked questions. The navigation bar at the top will take you to different areas on the rest of the site, including “About,” “Advice,” and “FAQ.”
Right away, near the top of the homepage, users are asked to click one of three buttons to choose between individual, couples, or teen therapy. If you choose teen or couples counseling, you’ll be directed away from BetterHelp and onto one of the company’s affiliate sites. You can visit BetterHelp’s FAQ page to learn more about the company, subscription costs, and how therapy at BetterHelp works. Under “About,” you’ll find recent press coverage, therapists’ bios, and customer testimonials. The “Advice” tab features informative articles about common mental health conditions.
The Talkspace homepage is similarly designed, with the statement “Feeling better starts with a single message” at the top. Just below this phrase, users can choose between individual, couples, or teen therapy or psychiatric care to get started with the click of a button. After you select one of these options, you’ll begin your questionnaire to get matched with a provider right away.
As you scroll down the homepage, you can see a preview of some of the insurance plans that Talkspace accepts, as well as stats about the platform’s effectiveness and the overall number of 5-star reviews the company has earned. At the top of the page is a navigation bar, where you can learn more about how Talkspace works, register with the platform, log in, visit Talkspace for Business, or join Talkspace’s network of therapists as a provider. Information about Talkspace’s pricing plans isn’t as easy to find right away. However, you can easily view a list of the company’s accepted insurance plans on its website.
Both platforms offer several additional online resources, both for visitors and subscribers. A BetterHelp representative told us: “In addition to weekly live sessions, [a] BetterHelp subscription includes (at no additional cost): unlimited access to group webinars, journaling tools, worksheets, weekly group sessions (support style sessions), and thousands of blogs and articles written by therapists and mental health professionals.”
Similarly, Talkspace offers a variety of free resources, such as a mental health library with articles about a wide range of symptoms and conditions. The website also provides several online mental health screening tests, which can help you find out if you may be experiencing symptoms of conditions like depression, bipolar disorder, or obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).
In our user survey, most Talkspace users (82%) reported that the company’s website was easy or very easy to navigate. Seventy-three percent of users said the same about BetterHelp’s website.
Talkspace vs. BetterHelp: Mobile App
BetterHelp and Talkspace both have mobile apps that are available to download for iOS and Android users on either the Apple App Store or the Google Play Store. You’ll have to complete a questionnaire and enter your personal information—including your contact information and payment info—to register and get full access to either mobile app.
You can use both apps to access all of the platform’s major features, such as messaging or meeting with your therapist and scheduling future sessions. Thirty-nine percent of the Talkspace users we surveyed and 49% of BetterHelp users told us they primarily used a smartphone to access online therapy.
Talkspace vs. BetterHelp: Sign Up
To sign up for Talkspace, download the mobile app or visit the company’s website. From there, select what type of therapy you’re looking for. Then, you’ll complete a questionnaire about yourself and your mental health. You’ll be asked to answer questions about whether you’re looking for a therapist of a certain gender identity or specialty and to provide personal information about your birth date, gender identity, sleep habits, and mental and physical health. For example, in response to a question about what you hope to get out of therapy, you can select answers like “I’m feeling anxious or panicky,” “I’m having difficulty in my relationship,” “I’m feeling down or depressed,” or “I’m dealing with stress at work or school.”
From there, you can choose whether you’d like to pay out of pocket or with insurance. Then you can select your preferred subscription plan and billing cycle and enter your credit card information to complete the sign-up process.
The sign-up process at BetterHelp is somewhat longer and more involved. After selecting “individual therapy” on either the mobile app or website, you’ll be asked to answer a series of questions to match you with the right therapist.
BetterHelp’s questionnaire includes inquiries about your gender identity, age, sexual orientation, relationship status, religious faith, and mental health history, as well as your current symptoms and what you’re hoping to accomplish in therapy. You can ask to be matched with either a male or female therapist, a therapist of color, a therapist over 45 years old, a non-religious therapist, or a provider who specializes in Christian-based therapy or LGBTQ+ issues.
Finally, you’ll have to give your first name, create a password, and provide an email address before entering your payment information.
Our survey found that both BetterHelp and Talkspace users were generally satisfied with the sign-up process. Seventy-six percent of customers at both companies said the process was easy or very easy.
Talkspace vs. BetterHelp: Connecting With a Therapist
Talkspace pairs users with a therapist in 48 hours or less, although the process often takes much less time. If you chose individual therapy, you’ll be matched directly with a therapist who meets your preferences. If you selected couples therapy, you’ll receive a list of recommended providers that you and your partner can choose from together. Each bio includes information about the provider’s educational background and therapeutic specialty or specialties, as well as details about their licensure and reviews from previous clients.
Meanwhile, BetterHelp will match you with a therapist in 24 hours. Like at Talkspace, many users report that they’re matched with a provider long before a full day has passed. Then, you’ll receive information about your therapist, including their educational and professional credentials, years of work experience, area(s) of expertise, and preferred therapeutic modalities.
Both BetterHelp and Talkspace allow you to switch providers at any time. After filling out a short questionnaire about what you’re looking for (such as a therapist who focuses on LGBTQ+ issues, speaks Spanish, or provides Christian-based therapy) and what you did or didn’t like about your prior provider, you’ll receive a list of recommended therapists and their bios to choose from. At BetterHelp, this list will include about 10–20 therapists; at Talkspace, you’ll initially receive a list of three therapists. If you don’t like those options, you can ask for three more.
In our user survey, 82% of BetterHelp users and 88% of Talkspace users said they would rate the company’s helpfulness in connecting them to a therapist as good or better. Eighty-five percent of Talkspace users and 79% of BetterHelp users said they could find a good, very good, or excellent number of high-quality providers on the platform.
Talkspace vs. BetterHelp: Counselor Qualifications
Many people seek therapy at BetterHelp or Talkspace to help them manage stress, parenting, trauma, relationships, chronic illness, LGBTQ+ issues, identity, and faith, as well as mental health conditions such as mood disorders, anxiety, and depression. Common types of therapy offered on both platforms include cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT), anger management, and trauma therapy, among many others.
Most of the Talkspace users we surveyed (55%) sought online therapy for help with anxiety, while 45% wanted help with depression and 30% hoped for assistance with stress. Similarly, 63% of BetterHelp users said they needed help with anxiety. Sixty-two percent of BetterHelp users sought therapy for depression, and 25% said they were experiencing stress.
At BetterHelp, the available providers include psychologists, licensed professional counselors (LPCs), licensed clinical social workers (LCSWs), and licensed marriage and family therapists (LMFTs). BetterHelp’s website states that its providers have at least three years and 10,000 hours of directly relevant experience in their field, as well as a master’s degree or doctoral degree.
The providers at Talkspace are also licensed and accredited. Many of them are also LMFTs, LCSWs, LPCs, or psychologists with a Ph.D. or Psy.D. According to Talkspace’s website, its providers go through a lengthy evaluation process and have seven to 10 years of experience on average. The sleep therapists at Talkspace are specifically trained in offering cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia (CBT-I), while the couples therapists offer relationship counseling, marriage counseling, and premarital counseling.
The Talkspace users we surveyed were overwhelmingly impressed with the available therapists. Ninety-two percent of users said they would rate providers’ qualifications as excellent, very good, or good. Among BetterHelp users, 87% rated therapists’ qualifications as good or better.
Talkspace vs. BetterHelp: Psychiatry
BetterHelp doesn’t offer psychiatry or medication management—only therapy.
Talkspace offers online psychiatric care and medication management services with licensed prescribers, including both nurse practitioners and board-certified psychiatrists. The psychiatric providers at Talkspace can treat symptoms of conditions like post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, anxiety disorders, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), bipolar disorder, and more. According to the Talkspace website, the company’s providers can prescribe “all medications online except for controlled substances,” such as stimulants for ADHD or benzodiazepines for anxiety.
Initial psychiatric appointments (via live video session) cost $249. Follow-up visits cost $125 each.
Our user survey found that most Talkspace users (56%) were seeking psychiatric care through the platform for depression. Other common conditions being treated included anxiety (39%), ADHD (24%), and PTSD (20%). Ninety percent of users rated Talkspace’s psychiatry and medication management services positively (as good, very good, or excellent).
Talkspace vs. BetterHelp: Session Platforms
At both BetterHelp and Talkspace, users have several options when it’s time to schedule an online therapy session. Among the users we surveyed, 25% percent of BetterHelp users and 27% of Talkspace users said that having multiple virtual session types—such as video, phone, and messaging—was the most important factor in their decision to use a certain therapy platform.
At both companies, you’ll message and meet with your therapist and schedule future sessions in a private portal. A subscription plan with either service allows you to access unlimited asynchronous messaging (both text and audio, along with video messaging at BetterHelp) with your therapist in a virtual “room” on the website or app.
From here, you can also schedule live video, chat, or phone sessions with your provider. These take place directly in your private portal at your agreed-upon time. BetterHelp has offered a live chat option for quite some time, while Talkspace added live chat sessions in 2021.
Despite their many similarities, BetterHelp and Talkspace do have some differences when it comes to meeting with a therapist. You can schedule one session at a time through BetterHelp, typically at the end of your previous session. Meanwhile, Talkspace allows you to schedule up to four sessions at a time. Lastly, live therapy sessions at BetterHelp are 30–45 minutes long; most sessions at Talkspace run 45 minutes.
Talkspace vs. BetterHelp: Customer Experience
Overall, the Talkspace users in our survey reported that they were happier with their customer experience, and our testers of the company felt the same. One tester of Talkspace reported that “the video chat worked well” and that her “therapist seemed to care,” and another tester felt like her therapist’s responses to her text messages between sessions were personal and adequately addressed the issues she brought up.
BetterHelp testers were not so enthusiastic. One felt like the “live chats are strange because they are literally just you and your therapist arranging a time to be on the usually asynchronous platform together,” and they did not feel seen or supported by their therapist. The client noted, “She did not understand my disability at all” and that her answers to questions in between sessions “felt a bit generic.”
Users rated the platforms’ cost and value similarly, with 58% of BetterHelp users and 58% of Talkspace users saying their subscription was either affordable or very affordable. Likewise, 48% of both Talkspace and BetterHelp users rated the company’s value for money as very good or excellent.
However, in terms of customer satisfaction with care providers, Talkspace comes out on top. Seventy-eight percent of the Talkspace users we surveyed told us that their therapist met all or most of their needs, in comparison to 76% of BetterHelp users. Meanwhile, 83% of Talkspace users and 77% of BetterHelp users said they were satisfied or very satisfied with the available therapists on the platform.
When it came to overall customer satisfaction, Talkspace edged out BetterHelp in several areas of our survey. Ninety-seven percent of Talkspace users thought the platform was a little better, better, or much better than other services they’d used in the past. At BetterHelp, 84% of surveyed users said the same. Slightly more Talkspace users (75%) than BetterHelp users (72%) reported that they would start their search on the same platform again if they were looking for a new therapist.
Finally, more Talkspace users (82%) than BetterHelp users (77%) said they were likely or very likely to recommend the service to a friend.
Talkspace and BetterHelp are two of the largest, most popular online therapy platforms currently available. Talkspace is our choice for the better platform overall because it accepts health insurance, offers psychiatry and medication management services, and provides talk therapy to teens ages 13–17 as well as adults.
BetterHelp may be a better choice for you if you’re looking for a less costly plan or need financial aid. You may also prefer BetterHelp if you’re outside the U.S. or Canada, even temporarily.
Talkspace might meet your needs if you’re looking for couples therapy, psychiatry, medication management, teen counseling, or help with insomnia. Also, if you’d prefer to pay through your health insurance plan rather than out of pocket, Talkspace may be a better option.
Overall, we recommend Talkspace over BetterHelp as an online therapy platform because of its wider variety of services and accessible psychiatric care.
Frequently Asked Questions
How much do Talkspace and BetterHelp cost per month?
Subscription plans at Talkspace cost $276–$516 per month, depending on the type of plan you select. At BetterHelp, subscriptions generally cost $240–360 per month, depending on your location and other factors.
Can Talkspace and BetterHelp therapists provide diagnoses?
Currently, therapists on Talkspace and BetterHelp can’t provide diagnoses for mental health conditions. However, they can help you manage the symptoms of common mental health conditions like depression, anxiety, and more. Psychiatrists at Talkspace, though, can diagnose.
Can therapists on BetterHelp and Talkspace prescribe medication?
No psychiatry or medication management services are currently offered at BetterHelp. Licensed prescribers at Talkspace can prescribe medication to treat conditions like anxiety, depression, and bipolar disorder.
When should I consider getting help beyond online therapy?
Studies suggest that online therapy can be helpful in treating symptoms of common mental health concerns like depression and anxiety. However, online therapy isn’t typically the best fit for severe or complex mental health conditions, such as psychosis.
Online therapy is also not appropriate for someone who is having a mental health crisis or experiencing intense emotional distress, such as suicidality. Call 988, the national Suicide and Crisis Lifeline, or go to the emergency room right away if you are having thoughts of harming yourself or someone else.
To accurately review and compare Talkspace and BetterHelp, we surveyed 105 current users of each and sent questionnaires to both companies. This allowed us to directly compare services offered by gathering qualitative and quantitative data about each company and its users’ experiences.
We evaluated both companies on the following factors: website usability, the sign-up and therapist matching processes, therapist qualifications, types of therapy offered, the service's quality of care, client-therapist communication options, session length, subscription offerings, client privacy protections, average cost and value for money, whether it accepts insurance, how easy it is to change therapists, overall user satisfaction, the likelihood that clients would recommend them, and current mentions in the media. We also used the results of recent peer-reviewed studies published in reputable scientific journals to provide evidence for our claims.
Marcelle ET, Nolting L, Hinshaw SP, Aguilera A. Effectiveness of a multimodal digital psychotherapy platform for adult depression: a naturalistic feasibility study. JMIR Mhealth Uhealth.
Singh S, Sagar R. "Online psychotherapy during the COVID-19 pandemic: the good, the bad, and the ugly." Indian J Psychol Med. 2022 Mar; 44(2): 177–180.