If you are searching for a therapist online, you might come across Talkspace and BetterHelp. These are two of the most popular online therapy platforms. While both offer video therapy sessions with a licensed provider, they differ in some important ways. In this review, we compare Talkspace and BetterHelp to outline what types of services they offer, how much subscriptions cost, and who might benefit from each platform.

Members of our Handbook Team have signed up for and personally tested both platforms to gather as much information as possible on how the therapy sessions work and the quality of the sign up and therapist-matching process.

Talkspace vs. BetterHelp comparison

Cost Per Week $69–$109 $65–$100
Insurance Yes No
Services Individual therapy, couples therapy, psychiatry Individual therapy
Session Types Live chat, phone, and video sessions; unlimited messaging; group workshops Live chat, phone, and video sessions; messaging anytime; group support sessions
Age of Patients 13 and older 18 and older

In a mental health emergency:

Online therapists may not be the most appropriate resource to help in a mental health crisis. If you or someone you know is a danger to themselves or others around them, it is an emergency, and it cannot wait for an online therapist’s response.

Don’t wait. You can find help immediately by:

All the above options will connect you with trained professionals who can provide crisis support. You can find even more resources, including international options, on our helpline directory page.

Our testing experience

The Handbook Team has researched more than 70 online therapy platforms, directories, and networks. Based on our research, we’ve signed up for the top 14 platforms—including BetterHelp and Talkspace—to test out for ourselves.

of research
7,500+   hours
of research
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70   platforms
researched
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14   platforms
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1,200   people
surveyed
interviewed
20   people
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consulted
60+   experts
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Testers sign up for the platforms and attend online therapy sessions for four weeks. Our testers are instructed to test the platforms through the lens of a real user, paying attention to how easy or difficult it is to find a therapist that fits their needs. Testers log their experience in a diary and come together to share their findings.

Here’s what we do with each online therapy platform:  

Our Online Therapy Testing Process
1
Fill out the intake assessment. Fill out the intake assessment.
2
Subscribe as a new user. Subscribe as a new user.
3
Get matched with a therapist. Get matched with a therapist.
4
Schedule and attend sessions on the platform for one month. Schedule and attend sessions on the platform for one month.
5
Go through the steps to switch therapists. Go through the steps to switch therapists.
6
Contact customer support with questions. Contact customer support with questions.
7
Explore platform features such as journals, worksheets, and symptom trackers. Explore platform features such as journals, worksheets, and symptom trackers.
8
Cancel subscription. Cancel subscription.

Our challenge is to evaluate the features and experiences of the platforms themselves rather than the care from individual providers. We learned that most testers feel the need to switch from the providers they are initially matched with. We were surprised when we encountered a lack of choice in providers on some platforms. For example, when one of our testers was looking for a provider of color in their state, they were given three choices, none of whom matched the tester’s preferences.

From our tester

“I was only given three [therapist] options and still couldn’t get the type of therapist I was looking for. When I didn’t find the therapist I was looking for, I felt unseen and underrepresented. Often, I’m reminded that I am a minority due to the lack of representation of someone who looks like me. This was just another example of that.”

Still, we are pleased most of our testers had positive interactions with the providers they eventually selected. “I’ve been through many therapists before, but I was surprised when I found a therapist who specialized in my concerns and had a different approach to therapy,” says one tester. “I learned a new perspective to frame my ongoing concerns and got to connect with a caring provider who I felt comfortable with.”

We rate each online therapy platform we test based on our findings for this review. 

Key takeaways

Here are five key pieces of information you should know about the brands in this review.

Talkspace vs. BetterHelp
BetterHelp offers virtual therapy sessions. BetterHelp offers virtual therapy sessions.
Talkspace offers both virtual therapy and psychiatry sessions. Talkspace offers both virtual therapy and psychiatry sessions.
Talkspace accepts insurance, BetterHelp does not. Talkspace accepts insurance, BetterHelp does not.
Both platforms offer discounts or promotions. Both platforms offer discounts or promotions.
Both BetterHelp and Talkspace offer therapy via video, phone, and messaging. Both BetterHelp and Talkspace offer therapy via video, phone, and messaging.

Talkspace overview

Talkspace offers individual therapy, couples therapy, and psychiatry sessions. Users can choose to communicate with their provider through live chat, phone or video calls, and messaging. Unlike BetterHelp, Talkspace therapists can treat teens, but people younger than 18 years old cannot receive psychiatric services through Talkspace. 

Affordability
9.0 90%
Data privacy
7.3 73%
Availability
9.8 98%
Inclusivity
7.8 78%
$85 off with promo code HELPGUIDE85

Key highlights

  • Best for: Therapy and psychiatry.
  • Cost: $69–$109 per week.
  • Session lengths: 30-minute sessions.
  • Types of services offered: Individual therapy, couples therapy, psychiatry.
  • Prescribes medication: Yes, psychiatry providers can prescribe medication.

Pros and cons

Pros Accepts insurance. Offers therapy and psychiatry. Discounts available. Offers therapy for people age 13 and up. Cons No free trial. Not covered by Medicare or Medicaid. Does not offer psychiatry to teens younger than 18.

Mental health conditions Talkspace treats

Talkspace therapists can treat people who have anxiety, depression, stress, bipolar disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), insomnia, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), among others. 

Common medications prescribed

Talkspace psychiatrists can diagnose mental health conditions and prescribe certain medications if appropriate. Here are a few of the medications that Talkspace providers can prescribe:

  • Abilify (aripiprazole)
  • Buspar (buspirone)
  • Cymbalta (duloxetine)
  • Lexapro (escitalopram)
  • Lithium
  • Propranolol
  • Prozac (fluoxetine)
  • Trazodone
  • Zoloft (sertraline)

It’s important to know that Talkpace providers do not prescribe controlled substances A controlled substance is a drug, medication, or chemical whose manufacture, distribution, and use is regulated by the federal government. , including stimulants like Adderall, Ritalin, Concerta, and Vyvanse used to treat ADHD, or sedatives like Xanax, Valium, and Klonopin used to treat anxiety. Some of these drugs are considered first-line treatments A first-line treatment or medication is the first treatment option given by a provider because it is proven effective for a specific condition. for these conditions, so while Talkspace providers may provide support for a condition like ADHD, they won’t be able to offer these treatment options if they are appropriate for you. If this is the case, or if you want to discuss these options with a provider, it might be better to see a psychiatrist in person.

Cost 

Talkspace accepts many types of insurance, except for Medicare and Medicaid, and also offers a tiered subscription payment plan. The most budget-friendly tier is a messaging-only model, which may work for people who would rather not talk over the phone or via video call. However, for those who wish to see their provider, this option may feel a bit impersonal.

Here are the three main Talkspace plans for individual therapy and the monthly prices without insurance:

  • Messaging Therapy: $276 per month for unlimited messaging.
  • Video Plus Messaging Therapy: $396 per month with four video sessions.
  • Video Plus Messaging Plus Workshops: $436 per month with four video sessions.

Subscribers can buy additional live session credits for $65 each.

Handbook Tip #1

Please be aware that Talkspace’s billing will auto-renew each month unless you pause or cancel your subscription. If you pause the service, it will delay billing for seven days and automatically renew if you do not cancel your subscription.

Insights from our tester

Our tester was matched with nine therapists, but eight of them had only been on the platform for a few months, and it was evident they didn’t know the system very well. 

From our tester

“Some aren’t familiar with the platform or aren’t utilizing the messaging feature as much as I’d like, even though I requested more check-ins through asynchronous messaging Messaging with a delay between responses, similar to email, rather than instant messaging or chatting. .”

Working with a therapist who’s unfamiliar with the platform puts features like unlimited messaging with your therapist in doubt. If you value corresponding with your provider through chat, be sure to ask right away how available they will be to respond to messages.

Keep in mind not all therapists will want to use messaging for therapy due to concerns over safety issues or unclear guidance from platforms. Video therapy may allow for better risk assessment, according to the American Psychological Association (APA). Additionally, some therapists may prefer video sessions to help build a connection with the client and so that they can read the client’s body language.

Talkspace’s customer service says they can help you match with a therapist based on gender identity or areas of focus, specialty, and special requests, but they can’t help you match based on your time availability. Our tester in New York was paired with someone in the United Kingdom, and because of the time difference, the match did not work out. Thankfully, she was able to switch providers with ease. 

Customer service is generally helpful but not timely, according to our tester. Talkspace doesn’t have a live chat or phone line for customer service. Instead, it has a ticket system through the app and a support email address. 

From our tester

“I ask a question through the app and receive a response within 24 hours, then the next reply is in three days. The support agent seems like they genuinely want to help, but I can see three days being too long for some people to get the help they need, especially if they’re paying for the service every 30 days.”

What other users are saying

In our February 2024 survey of 100 Talkspace users, 80 percent of respondents say that they are either satisfied or very satisfied with Talkspace for reducing the symptoms that led them to therapy in the first place. Eighty eight percent of Talkspace users told us that they are either satisfied or very satisfied with the therapist they are matched with. 

People sometimes need to find a therapist who understands them, whether it is based on gender, race, sexuality, religious background, or other cultural or personal identities. 

Focus group participant

“I want someone who can connect with me culturally. I think there are just a lot of things someone who isn’t from my culture wouldn’t understand. So I want a choice.”

According to our survey, 77 percent of Talkspace users say that their provider shares part of their identity, specifically gender, sexual orientation, religion, race, or culture. Eighty four percent of those surveyed say that their Talkspace provider respects their identity and 86 percent said that their provider respects their values.

BetterHelp overview

BetterHelp offers individual therapy. Users can choose to communicate with their provider through live chat, phone and video sessions, or messaging, and group sessions are available. BetterHelp also links to a couples therapy platform, Regain, and TeenCounseling.com for adolescents. 

Affordability
9.4 94%
Data privacy
9.4 94%
Availability
9.2 92%
Inclusivity
9.4 94%
20% off with HELPGUIDE20

Key highlights

  • Best for: Therapy.
  • Cost: $65–$100 per week.
  • Session lengths: 30-45 minutes.
  • Types of services offered: Individual therapy, and couples therapy via Regain.

Pros and cons

Pros Quickly match with a therapist. Choose from 34,000 providers. Message your therapist anytime. Cons Does not accept insurance. No psychiatry or medication management. Therapists cannot diagnose conditions.

Mental health conditions BetterHelp treats

Therapists on BetterHelp are licensed psychologists, licensed marriage and family therapists, licensed clinical social workers, or licensed professional counselors. These providers have specialized training in specific types of therapy, including cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and trauma-focused therapy. BetterHelp therapists can help you with a wide range of mental health concerns, including anxiety, depression, grief, and trauma.

Cost

BetterHelp therapy ranges from $65–$100 per week, based on your location. BetterHelp bills every four weeks. The platform accepts Health Savings Accounts (HSA) and Flexible Spending Accounts (FSA) for payment and is recognized as an eligible expense by most HSA/FSA providers. You can also pay using PayPal or a credit card. 

Discounts and promotions may also be available. When signing up, you will be prompted to fill out a questionnaire, including questions asking about where you first heard of BetterHelp. Our tester received a promotional discount for listing the podcast name where she first heard about the platform. BetterHelp automatically deducts $9 per week, saving our tester $36 in the first month. 

Hanbook Tip #2

If you invite your family and friends using a referral link, they get two free weeks of therapy when they join, and you get $150 credit. BetterHelp will apply your credits to your next payment.

Insights from our tester

Our tester was interested in connecting with a provider who is part of the LGBTQIA+  community to align with her identity and the personal issues she wanted to discuss in her sessions. BetterHelp advertises that it hires a diverse network of providers, but, it could not guarantee our tester would be matched with a therapist also part of the LGBTQIA+ community. Customer service said she could ask the therapist once she was matched, which was disappointing. Our tester was also disappointed by the lack of provider availability; she would have liked to see each therapist’s reviews and availability before being matched.

From our tester

“My first provider was only available at odd hours (7 a.m. or on Sunday), so I had to switch providers. The switching process only takes about one day, but I could not connect with the next one for about two weeks.”

Despite her rocky start, our tester participated in a group session she enjoyed. These 90-minute sessions are led by a therapist, and you can select from a variety of topics each week.

Our tester appreciates the easy group dynamic and feels seen and heard. Although 90 minutes is a significant time commitment, she feels it is worthwhile. Our tester also finds the BetterHelp website convenient to use. The landing page for appointment and group session scheduling is user-friendly and easy to navigate. 

What other users are saying

Finding a therapist with a specific background is important when researching providers. 

From focus group participant

“ For me, it was really important in regards to what kind of certification or license they [the therapist] had. The issues I was dealing with were more interpersonal and relational, and I just felt like a social worker wouldn’t be able to help me like a marriage and family therapist would. So that part for me was super important when I was looking for a therapist and building a bond.”

In February 2024, we surveyed 100 BetterHelp users to learn about their specific experiences. 88 percent of respondents say that they are either satisfied or very satisfied with the therapist they are matched with. 82 percent of respondents tell us that they either somewhat agree or completely agree that their therapist adjusts their therapeutic style to meet their needs. 87 percent report that they are either satisfied or very satisfied with BetterHelp for reducing the symptoms that led them to therapy in the first place.

Talkspace vs. BetterHelp: Which is best for you?

The better platform for you will depend on your specific needs and preferences.

Talkspace offers individual and couples counseling and is one of the few online therapy platforms that accepts insurance. If you’re looking for therapy plus medication management from a psychiatry provider, Talkspace may be your best option. Talkspace therapists see patients as young as 13 and offer psychiatry services to people age 18 and older. 

BetterHelp offers individual therapy and couples counseling through Regain. The platform does not accept insurance, which may be a barrier. Some people may prefer this platform because of the thousands of therapists on the platform to choose from. Although BetterHelp doesn’t have psychiatrists, their providers can refer you to someone if you need medication support or other psychiatric needs. 

Additionally, online therapy may not be the right option for you. If you are seeking psychiatry services for the first time, if you are dealing with a condition that requires a prescription for a controlled substance, or if you are simply more comfortable with an in-person appointment, it may be best to see an in-person provider for a full evaluation.

Our final verdict

If your insurance covers online therapy, or if you need medication management from a psychiatry provider, Talkspace may be a better fit for your needs. If you don’t have insurance coverage for online therapy, you don’t need psychiatric care, and you plan to utilize added features like group sessions, BetterHelp may suit your needs while offering a wide range of therapists to choose from. 

We like that both platforms offer multiple ways to communicate with your provider, including the promise of unlimited messaging. However, we suggest setting expectations with your therapist right after matching so you and your therapist are on the same page about communication. 

If you still have questions about which mental health platform is right for you, be sure to check out our article on the best online therapy platforms

Frequently asked questions

Talkspace typically costs $69–$109 per week with insurance coverage, though your cost will vary depending on your copay. BetterHelp does not accept insurance and costs $65–$100 out-of-pocket per week. The platform that is most affordable to you depends on your plan and insurance coverage.

Talkspace has 30-minute sessions, and BetterHelp sessions last from 30–45 minutes. BetterHelp also offers weekly 90-minute group sessions.

Talkspace psychiatrists can provide a mental health diagnosis, but Talkspace and BetterHelp therapists do not diagnose conditions per each company’s policy.

The decision between Talkspace and BetterHelp depends on your needs. If you want virtual talk therapy, either platform can help you. If you are seeking therapy plus medication management or psychiatry services, Talkspace may be the better choice. Other factors to consider are cost and whether the platform accepts insurance.

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