Is BetterHelp Unethical? An Objective Analysis

Written By

Helen Kaminski, MSc

Updated:

Fact Checked

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BetterHelp is an online therapy provider that has grown rapidly since launching in 2013. With affordable pricing and convenient video sessions, BetterHelp aims to expand access to mental health support. 

However, some concerns about the platform have been raised over the years, with some asking whether BetterHelp is unethical. This article analyzes core ethical considerations around BetterHelp in an objective manner.

Provider Qualifications and Vetting Process

As an online company, BetterHelp.com relies on vetting processes to ensure the therapists in its network are qualified. 

All providers must be licensed, and credentials must be checked. However, oversight depends on periodic paperwork and may be less stringent than office-based practices.

Some critics have questioned whether BetterHelp’s growth has compromised its screening rigor in any way.

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Informed Consent and Setting Expectations

Transparency around BetterHelp’s policies, limitations compared to traditional therapy, and what users can expect from the experience is important for informed consent. 

Users should understand things like messaging frequency, crisis response capabilities, and usage of therapy dialog for internal research purposes. While BetterHelp does disclose much of this, continued attention here is prudent.

User Privacy and Data Security

For digital platforms, robust cybersecurity, and thoughtful data practices are imperative for user privacy.

BetterHelp has endured some challenges earlier on but has since implemented more sophisticated protections. Still, communicating clearly on the latest privacy policy and security measures remains an obligation.

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Accessibility of Care

Two tables highlighting key advantages and limitations:

BetterHelp Advantages

  • Lower cost
  • No transportation barriers
  • Flexible scheduling
  • Scale expands access

BetterHelp Limitations

  • Not usable by those without internet access
  • Non-verbal cues in therapy missing
  • No diagnosis provided
  • Not suited for serious mental illnesses

So, while BetterHelp democratizes access in notable ways, it does not serve all groups. Hybrid models with both virtual and traditional therapy may help bridge such gaps.

BetterHelp Pros and Cons

AdvantagesDisadvantages
Convenience and accessibility removing barriers like transportation, schedule conflicts.Lack of non-verbal cues and intimacy of face-to-face setting.
Affordability increasing access for those who cannot afford traditional therapy.Overreliance on self-reporting from users for provider vetting.
Efficiency and scalability reaching wider audiences.Privacy and security vulnerabilities that come with digital platforms.
Flexibility around scheduling for users.Restrictions based on virtual format prevent official diagnosis or medication prescriptions.
Expanded access to niche specialities like career, disability or depression counseling.Not suitable for those needing close crisis response or managing serious conditions.

Accountability and Quality Control

As a disruptor brand, criticism and public scrutiny are inevitable. While no model is perfect, BetterHelp’s leadership showing accountability around past problems, being responsive to ethical concerns, and being transparent on improvements can bolster trust and perception.

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Ethical guidelines for online therapy

Pricing Model and User Experience

BetterHelp’s subscription-style pricing raises questions about incentives and maximizing user engagement.

A thoughtful approach to measuring and supporting user progress, not overselling platform capabilities, and clear billing help mitigate such issues. Prioritizing user welfare over corporate goals is vital.

Conclusion: Is BetterHelp Unethical?

In summary, BetterHelp’s rapid growth has naturally raised ethical questions as a new frontier – but analysis shows strengths alongside opportunities for improvement.

With conscientious leadership, responsive policies, and commitment to counseling ethics, BetterHelp can pioneer online therapy effectively. Ongoing discourse and research are important to guide best practices.

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About the author

Helen Kaminski, MSc

Helen Kaminski, MSc

Mindful living for a happier, healthier you. I’m a medical writer, Licensed Mental Health Counselor, and a mental health advocate in Warsaw, Poland, with nine years working as a therapist. I hold a Master's in Clinical Psychology degree from the University of Warsaw. I specialize in writing about mental health, using my experiences and academic background to educate and inspire others. In my free time, I volunteer at a Disability Learning Center and go for nature walks. My writing aims to break down mental health stigma and help others feel understood. Social connections are vital to mental well-being, and I am dedicated to fostering communities of support and empathy. By sharing knowledge and personal insights, I strive to create a more compassionate world. Social

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