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Does BetterHelp want to help you better?

Photo by Mitch for Unsplash

If you regularly use social media, you’ve probably come across BetterHelp. Their advertisement seems to be inescapable, be it via Podcasts, YouTube videos or posts on social media. Various influencers also help to publicise the online therapy company. But what is BetterHelp really about? Is this online platform for improving mental health really as helpful as it claims?

BetterHelp is one of various online therapy platform offered worldwide and was founded in 2013. Its aim is to facilitate access to therapy through online sessions and lower prices than other providers. BetterHelp claims to have more than 30,000 licensed therapists. Counselling is offered via text messages, phone and video calls and is currently used by 7 million customers.

Photo by Julian Hochgesang for Unsplash

One of the ways BetterHelp reaches its audience is by placing a high value on advertising. The company publicises itself through its digital ads in a consistent and authentic way.

People on Instagram were asked which channel they used to find out about the online therapy platform. More than half of the participants discovered BetterHelp on YouTube. Followed by Influencer, Social media post and Podcast.

BetterHelp had an advertising campaign on YouTube from July to September 2023 and spend up to 37 million dollars.

Many influencers on YouTube promote BetterHelp with their personal stories about mental health problems and life challenges. And they encourage and normalise the idea that it is necessary to go to therapy. YouTubers like Shane Dawson and Philip DeFranco are one of them.

BetterHelp advertising such as short videos with a dramatic storyline are another approach on YouTube alongside testimonials.

In general, BetterHelp reaches out to a large number of influencers or public figures via social media. TikTokers also take on BetterHelp sponsorship.

You can find out more about the e-therapy company and its use of influencer marketing here.

However, a few breaches from the company have occurred in the past few years and BetterHelp users speaking up about their experience with their therapy session.

What is the BetterHelp controversy about?

Several cases investigated by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) show that BetterHelp failed to protect sensitive data online. A few years ago, in 2017, BetterHelp shared emails from 2 million current and former customers with Facebook for advertising purposes.

Snapchat was also a platform on which BetterHelp freely shared IP and email addresses to target their audience. 5.6 million visitors to the BetterHelp website were affected. By violating their customers’ right to privacy, the company was able to gain thousands of customers and millions in additional profits.

Sharing email addresses of a healthcare provider, in this case BetterHelp, is considered a disclosure of confidential and sensitive health information.

Therefore, the FTC proposed to prohibit BetterHelp from sharing confidential customer information in 2023. And to refund 7.8 million dollars to the customers who were affected by these incidents.

How is BetterHelp really?

YouTuber ‘LoveYourHealing’ was a former BetterHelp client and shares of the pros and cons of her 1.5-year counselling experience.

She ended using e-therapy because her therapist, with whom she got along with very well, stopped working for BetterHelp. And mentioned that she had found one of the best therapists on this platform. After that, she couldn’t find a new therapist that suited her.

She really appreciated the low price of just over $100 per month with an additional student account.

As for finding a therapist, she says it’s pretty easy to find a counsellor and switch if they’re not a good fit.

BetterHelp says they offer all types of communication, but not every therapist offers it.

She experienced a delayed start to her sessions, which was a personal drawback.

BetterHelp also offers additional features such as diary entries that can be shared with the therapist or group seminars offered. However, she was unable to attend these as they took place during the day.

On the flip side

@bigboyjuicejuice

straight garbage dookie I cant believe I fell for the ads lmaoo #betterhelp #therapy

♬ original sound – antoine

‘Bigboyjuicejuice’ published a satirical short sketch about a therapy session with a client suffering from depression, to whom the therapist does not pay much attention. Instead of the client pouring his heart out, it is the therapist who shares his own problems and ends the conversation by saying that they are not comparable.

‘Madharteyed’ reports an experience from the practice in which the therapist did not take the session seriously. It almost seems as if the therapy session was an entertaining show, as the therapist made popcorn in between. Furthermore, she claimed that her session could also be heard by others, “she walks out an open door, meaning there is no privacy.”

TikToker ‘_thewellnessdiaries’ talks about her bad encounter with a BetterHelp therapist with the goal of getting help for her eating disorder. The therapist’s response to her problem was “congratulations on your weight loss.” After that, BetterHelp was no longer an option for her.

@gritlikeseabiscuit

#stitch with @mojojojokes I cannot recommend BetterHelp. #therapy

♬ original sound – Emeline O’Hara

Another experience described by ‘gritlikeseabiscuit‘ concerns the unprofessional behaviour of her therapist during a one-off experience. The therapist was unable to distinguish between the two psychological problems CPSTD (complex post-traumatic stress disorder) and PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder).

These TikTok videos are an example of personal experiences with the BetterHelp company that were negative. It seems that some therapists do not take their clients seriously and do not offer the help they need.

Photo by Sergey Zolkin for Unsplash

Both the good and the bad experiences can give you an insight into what BetterHelp is like. However, this is only a small insight among many other online reviews. 

It is difficult to judge whether the bad experiences outweigh the good ones or whether it is the other way round. What is certain is that there is no shortage of non-sponsored reviews for BetterHelp on the internet. People are certainly using social media to express their real thoughts on this company.

This information is not collected to discourage you from using BetterHelp or to keep you there if you do use it. Rather, it is intended to inform you and give you a broader understanding before you make a decision.

You are free to try online therapy. However, it is good to know the past and previous incidents related to the company. And to think twice if you’ve seen adverts from BetterHelp before fully committing to it.

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