BetterHelp Controversy ANALYZED

Written By

Saba Imran


Fact Checked

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This article explores the key controversies surrounding BetterHelp, the leading online therapy platform, and its implications for those considering virtual counseling services.

  • BetterHelp is an online therapy platform that connects users with licensed therapists for virtual counseling sessions.
  • BetterHelp positions itself as a convenient and affordable way to access mental health support for common issues but cautions it should not replace in-person therapy for more severe cases.

Since launching in 2013, BetterHelp has grown tremendously in popularity, with over 2.7 million users signing up to use the service. However, in recent years, BetterHelp has been embroiled in several controversies that have raised concerns about its business practices and the quality of care provided on the platform.

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Fill out a brief questionnaire and get matched with an experienced therapist online in as little as 48 hours.

✓ Over 33K credentialed professionals

✓ Financial aid available

✓ Subscriptions as low as $65/week, billed every four weeks

✓ Cancel plan or change therapist anytime

✓ 20% off your first month through Therapy Helpers

An overview of BetterHelp

BetterHelp provides on-demand access to therapists through text, audio, phone, and video chat sessions.

  • Users are matched with therapists based on criteria such as age, location, language, sexuality, faith, and specific issues the user is dealing with.
  • One of the main draws of BetterHelp is its convenience and affordability compared to traditional in-office therapy.

While research shows online therapy can be effective for treating some mild-moderate mental health conditions, the lack of in-person visual and non-verbal cues poses some limitations compared to physical therapy.

  • Still, for many people dealing with common issues like stress, relationships, or mild anxiety/depression, BetterHelp offers a useful alternative.

BetterHelp markets itself as an accessible way for people to get mental health support discreetly and on their own schedule. The service costs $65-$90 per week, which is significantly cheaper than most standard in-person therapy rates.

Data sharing and privacy concerns

One of the biggest controversies surrounding BetterHelp is its handling of user data. In 2018, the company came under fire when it was revealed that BetterHelp was sharing user data with third parties, such as Facebook, without explicit consent.

Additionally, in the same year, BetterHelp faced scrutiny over allegations of deceptive pricing, poor service quality, and inconsistent terms of service related to promotions by social media influencers.

  • The company’s CEO addressed the allegations, but concerns remained.

Specifically, BetterHelp provided anonymized metadata to partners for targeted advertising purposes, including sensitive information like users’ age, location, and health information. This was done despite BetterHelp’s privacy policy stating that user information would remain private and confidential. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) investigated these practices.

  • It ruled that BetterHelp had engaged in deceptive data collection by pushing people to turn over sensitive information under the guise of it being confidential.
  • In 2023, BetterHelp settled with the FTC for $7.8 million over these deceptive practices and prohibited the company from using these types of business practices going forward.

This controversy raised alarms about how secure and private user data is on BetterHelp’s platform. Many questioned if they could trust BetterHelp to keep their information safe, given this violation of users’ privacy.

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Concerns over therapist quality

Another issue that has plagued BetterHelp is doubts about the quality and qualifications of its therapists. Some users have complained that therapists on the platform seem unprofessional, inexperienced, or underqualified.

Unlike in-person therapy, BetterHelp users claimed they could not check the credentials or licenses of the therapists they were matched with.

  • BetterHelp claims they thoroughly vet and screen all therapists, but some argue there is still a lack of transparency.
  • As of the time of this publication, BetterHelp users can easily access the credentials and licenses of therapists through each therapist profile. BetterHelp now makes this information public and transparent.

There have also been reports of therapists failing to provide adequate care or ghosting users unexpectedly. The hands-off, virtual model of BetterHelp may make it easier for negligent therapists to get away with subpar work without repercussions.

These problems have led to accusations that BetterHelp prioritizes growth over properly training and evaluating its therapist network. Critics say the platform’s low prices come at the cost of quality assurance.

Difficulties getting refunds

A third controversy involves BetterHelp users having problems getting refunds when eligible under the platform’s policies. Multiple users have reported that BetterHelp makes it exceedingly difficult to get refunds, even for seemingly valid reasons.

  • For example, BetterHelp has a policy that if a user is unhappy with their therapist, they can switch to a new one at any time.
  • However, users say BetterHelp often rejects or ignores requests for refunds after unsatisfactory therapy experiences.

Others have complained about being refused refunds after being incorrectly charged multiple times in billing errors. These kinds of issues have cultivated a perception that BetterHelp uses deceptive maneuvers to avoid giving refunds.

  • As of the time of this publication, BetterHelp does offer refunds, which are reviewed on a case-by-case basis.

Sponsored, keeps our community free. Therapy Helpers does not accept money for reviews.

official betterhelp logo
Star Rating 4.5 Of 5

4.5 (6,513+) FROM TRUSTPILOT

Try BetterHelp

Fill out a brief questionnaire and get matched with an experienced therapist online in as little as 48 hours.

✓ Over 33K credentialed professionals

✓ Financial aid available

✓ Subscriptions as low as $65/week, billed every four weeks

✓ Cancel plan or change therapist anytime

✓ 20% off your first month through Therapy Helpers

Important considerations before using BetterHelp

While BetterHelp does expand access to therapy for many, the controversies illuminate the need for caution when using the service.

  • Users should be vigilant about checking credentials of matched therapists and reading the platform’s fine print regarding privacy and refunds.
  • It’s also crucial that users have realistic expectations about the level of care possible with virtual therapy.
  • More severe mental health issues may require traditional in-person counseling and a local provider or even hospitalization.

BetterHelp has taken some steps to address criticism, including revamping its privacy policy after the FTC settlement. Additionally, the platform stands to gain from improving its ethical practices and quality control over its therapists.

As online therapy grows, BetterHelp’s controversies highlight key areas virtual providers must prioritize to earn people’s trust.

The value of BetterHelp’s platform beyond the controversies

Despite the controversies, BetterHelp does offer advantages that serve certain mental health needs:

Convenience and accessibility

  • On-demand scheduling is convenient for busy and irregular schedules
  • Discreetness and remote access are helpful for those hesitant about in-person therapy

Specialized therapist matching

  • Large online therapist network makes finding providers experienced in specific issues easier
  • Beneficial for those seeking help with niche or stigmatized concerns

Customized experience

  • AI matching connects users with the right therapist for their needs
  • Research shows proper match quality improves therapy duration and progress
  • Multiple communication options suit different user preferences
  • Users can find the right mode that makes them most comfortable opening up

For people who benefit from the accessibility, flexibility, and stigma-free care, BetterHelp provides valuable services.

Who does BetterHelp work best for?

BetterHelp may be a good match for certain demographics and situations, such as:

  • Individuals with busy, irregular schedules who want therapy accessibility outside typical daytime work hours
  • Those living in rural areas with limited local therapist options
  • People hesitant about in-person therapy due to discomfort or privacy concerns
  • Those seeking help for niche issues like eating disorders, LGBTQ+ concerns, etc., that may benefit from a specialized provider
  • Users who prefer asynchronous communication like text messaging or email with therapists
  • Individuals with mobility limitations or transportation barriers make getting to an office difficult
  • People who benefit from increased discreetness in discussing stigmatized mental health problems
  • Low-income individuals in need of more affordable virtual therapy options
  • Expats, travelers, or digital nomads wanting ongoing therapy while on the move

Sponsored, keeps our community free. Therapy Helpers does not accept money for reviews.

official betterhelp logo
Star Rating 4.5 Of 5

4.5 (6,513+) FROM TRUSTPILOT


Fill out a brief questionnaire and get matched with an experienced therapist online in as little as 48 hours.

✓ Over 33K credentialed professionals

✓ Financial aid available

✓ Subscriptions as low as $65/week, billed every four weeks

✓ Cancel plan or change therapist anytime

✓ 20% off your first month through Therapy Helpers


The BetterHelp controversies highlight important considerations for those exploring online therapy:

  • Vet credentials of any therapist you are matched with to ensure they are properly licensed and qualified.
  • Read the fine print on privacy policies and user agreements to understand how your data may be handled.
  • Have realistic expectations about virtual therapy’s limitations for serious mental health needs.
  • Advocate for your care – provide feedback to your therapist and request a new provider or refund if dissatisfied.
  • Approach online therapy aware of the risks involved. With proper diligence in selecting providers and treatment options, you can maximize the potential benefits.

While BetterHelp expands access to support for many people, users should determine if its virtual approach is appropriate for their specific mental health needs and not assume it can fully replace individual in-office counseling.

As online therapy continues to evolve, how companies like BetterHelp address ongoing privacy, quality, and service concerns will shape public confidence and utilization of these virtual mental health resources.


  1. Two-way messaging therapy for depression and anxiety: longitudinal response trajectories.
  2. Psychology Today, Cost of therapy.
  3. Federal Trade Commission order.
  4. BetterHelp Privacy Policy.
  5. Wikepedia: BetterHelp.

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About the author

Saba Imran

Saba Imran

I'm passionate about medical research and writing. I earned my Master's degree in Microbiology because I love learning about tiny microbes and how they impact health. With over 6 years experience as a healthcare researcher and medical writer, I've published many times in international journals. Participating in research projects has given me in-depth knowledge to make complex topics easy to grasp. In my free time, I volunteer at the community science museum to get kids excited about science and discovery. My goal is to take difficult concepts and make them understandable through meticulous research, hopefully benefiting people across the globe. I believe clear science writing can empower us all. Social

9 thoughts on “BetterHelp Controversy ANALYZED”

  1. The accessibility benefits seem really promising for folks struggling to make time for in-person sessions. But good call that it likely can’t replace individual therapy for many serious conditions.

  2. Hadn’t heard about the FTC investigation before this. Glad they’re making companies change those data practices, this seems to happen to a lot of companies. Although, my data is just about everywhere these days lol

  3. Hmm the convenience seems nice but those stories about unqualified therapists are worrisome. I’d have to really look into the specific counselor’s background before signing up.

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  5. This was super insightful about the pros and cons. As someone considering online counseling, it’s helpful to go in aware of the risks and limitations involved with virtual platforms like this.

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  7. As someone who spent years in the mental health field before retiring, I have mixed feelings on BetterHelp. On one hand, reaching people where they are with virtual sessions can clearly help overcome access barriers. But from experience, I can’t ignore concerns about loose vetting letting unqualified “therapists” slip through cracks, giving care that may actually harm vulnerable folks seeking support in good faith. While technology opens doors, the human skills developed through rigorous in-person training and experience remain irreplaceable, especially for more complex cases. If BetterHelp matched clients only with seasoned professionals, I’d feel more reassured. As is, I have doubts.

  8. The author did a nice job showing BetterHelp’s good points but also openly talking about the problems some folks have had. This gives readers a clear picture to decide if it seems right for their situation or not. But they don’t ignore that things like protecting privacy and having good therapists matter too for a service folks trust. Just lays it out in a real balanced way.


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