Online Therapy Hong Kong: Does BetterHelp Make Sense?

Written By

Ava Cheng

Updated:

Fact Checked

off the coastline off Hong Kong with flags on side

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This article will provide an overview of online therapy in Hong Kong, examine the benefits and drawbacks, discuss cultural considerations, and explore whether BetterHelp is the right choice for you.

Online therapy has become increasingly popular worldwide in recent years, and Hong Kong is no exception.

BetterHelp is one of the largest and most well-known online therapy providers globally, offering convenient and affordable mental health services to residents of Hong Kong through video, phone, chat, and messaging.

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Rise of online therapy in Hong Kong

Similar to many developed regions, mental health issues are prevalent in Hong Kong.

According to Mind HK:

  • Over 60% of adults in Hong Kong presently have poor mental well-being.
  • Anxiety and depression are the most prevalent mental health disorders in Hong Kong.
  • A large majority (74%) of people suffering from mental health issues do not get any professional assistance.

However, stigma remains high, and seeking in-person therapy can be difficult due to busy schedules and a lack of providers – Hong Kong has 300 fewer psychiatrists than WHO recommends.

This environment has led to increasing demand for online therapy options that offer more flexibility and access to English-speaking therapists abroad.

According to Hospital Authority, it can take up to 95 weeks to see a Psychiatrist in some regions of China; therefore, more residents are now open to trying online counseling.

While traditional Chinese approaches like acupuncture and herbal medicine remain popular, more people are utilizing modern online therapy as well.

Platforms like BetterHelp have capitalized on this growing interest by making their services available globally. This allows people in Hong Kong to conveniently access therapy anytime, anywhere, without geographic restrictions.

How BetterHelp works in Hong Kong

For those interested in exploring BetterHelp.com for online therapy, here is an overview of how the platform works:

  • Sign Up – Users fill out a questionnaire about their background, needs, and preferences. This helps match them with a suitable therapist.
  • Get Matched – Users are then matched with a therapist in as little as 48 hours who fits their situation. They can view the provider’s credentials and switch counselors if desired.
  • Set Schedule – The client and matched therapist arrange ongoing session times that work for both according to the purchased plan. Meetings take place by phone, video, chat or messaging.
  • Messaging – In between scheduled sessions, clients can send messages to their counselor anytime when additional support is needed. Responses usually come within 24 hours.
  • Progress Tracking – Users complete assessments about mood and progress at intervals. This helps track improvement over time.
  • CostPricing starts at around HK$506 (USD65) per week, with the most expensive plan being US$90 per week (HK$700), billed every four weeks. It’s more affordable than comparable in-person counseling – which averages HK$1,400 – HK$1,600 per session.
  • Credentials – All BetterHelp therapists have at least 3 years experience and hold valid professional accreditations in their country. Rigorous background checks are completed.

For people in Hong Kong, using BetterHelp grants them access to the largest online network of English-speaking therapists from Western countries like the US and the UK.

This facilitates the process for those who prefer counseling in English from professionals familiar with modern online therapy’s benefits and best practices.

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

✓ Over 35K credentialed professionals

✓ Financial aid available

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

✓ Cancel plan or change therapist anytime

20% off your first month through Therapy Helpers

Cost comparison: online therapy vs. in-person in Hong Kong

Therapy Type Cost (Hong Kong)
Online Therapy, Hong Kong (BetterHelp) HK$ 506 – 700
(US$65-90) weekly
In-office Therapy HK$ 1400 – 1600
per session

Traditional in-office therapy: ranges between HK$ 1400 and HK$ 1600 per session, higher for couples. With BetterHelp, Hong Kong residents and foreigners can access online therapy for a much lower cost than in-person counseling and with a much greater selection of specialists.

*Based on an exchange rate of 1 USD = 7.82 HKD. Rates may fluctuate.

Benefits of online therapy

There are many potential advantages to using online therapy for people in Hong Kong:

  • Convenience – Sessions can take place via video, phone, chat, or messaging at flexible hours without commuting to an office. This can save time and fit busy schedules.
  • Accessibility – It expands options for therapy by connecting clients with English-speaking therapists abroad. Language and cultural barriers are reduced. Cantonese/Mandarin therapists may be available on BetterHelp, but availability varies.
  • Affordability – Online therapy costs less than traditional in-office therapy on average. BetterHelp starts at around HKD506 per week (US$65), far below typical in-person session rate.
  • Discreet – The virtual nature can help reduce the stigma associated with seeking mental health treatment.
  • Range of Specialties – Large platform like BetterHelp has therapists with expertise in a wide array of issues like depression, anxiety, relationships, trauma, eating disorders, LGBTQ matters, and more.
  • Comfort – Being in a comfortable, familiar environment at home can put some clients more at ease.

Potential drawbacks and considerations

However, there are also some potential downsides or issues to keep in mind:

  • Less Personal – The lack of in-person interaction can reduce relationship building between therapist and client. Important visual/auditory cues may be missed over video.
  • Technical Issues – Connectivity problems or tech difficulties could disrupt sessions. Both parties should have strong internet access and capabilities.
  • Limited Psychiatric Care – Online therapists do not prescribe medication, which requires seeing a psychiatrist separately.
  • Verifying Credentials – It can be harder to confirm the licenses and credentials of therapists remotely compared to locally. Platforms should thoroughly vet their providers.
  • Emergency Care – Extreme mental health crises require immediate in-person psychiatric intervention beyond online therapy’s capabilities.
  • Cultural Nuances – Therapists abroad may be less familiar with unique cultural aspects of Chinese/Hong Kong society that impact mental health perspectives. Local context is very relevant.

By being aware of these considerations, Hong Kong residents can make informed decisions about whether online therapy and providers like BetterHelp suit their needs.

Cultural considerations for therapists

busy street at night time in hong kong with cars and pedestrians and neon lights above the street

While online therapy breaks down many geographical barriers, therapists working with Hong Kong-based clients should still be cognizant of important cultural aspects that influence perspectives on mental health:

  • Stigma – Seeking therapy is still somewhat stigmatized as a “weakness” in Chinese culture. Discretion and subtlety are valued.
  • High Context Culture – Communication is often indirect. Context and subtle cues carry meaning. Therapists should read between the lines.
  • Collectivism – There is a strong focus on family, community, and group harmony over individual interests. Goals may be aligned with this cultural emphasis.
  • Pragmatism – Emotional control and practical problem-solving are prioritized over exploring feelings in-depth. Therapists can incorporate actionable steps.
  • Traditional Influences – History of Confucianism, Buddhism, feng shui, and ancestral beliefs impact clients’ worldviews, which therapists should be sensitive to.
  • Communication Style – More reserved communication, avoidance of conflict, and use of intermediaries is common. Patience and sensitivity are key.
  • Saving Face – Protecting dignity and reputation is very important. Handling matters discretely helps clients save face.

While these factors impact many clients, it’s also important not to over-generalize.

Therapists should get to know each individual’s personal preferences, too. If therapists can provide culturally-informed therapy, it can lead to better rapport and outcomes.

Best online therapy platforms available in Hong Kong

While BetterHelp.com is one of the largest online therapy platforms used in Hong Kong, there are some other alternatives emerging in the region’s growing virtual counseling market.

  • Online-therapy.com – Provides professional therapy for a wide spectrum of mental health concerns; weekly plans start at US$40 per week (~312 HKD). Currently offering 20% off.
  • TeenCounseling – Provides specialized teen counseling online, weekly plans start at US$65 per week (~506 HKD). Currently 20% off.
  • Regain – Provides expert relationship/intimacy online counseling, weekly plans start at US$65 (~506 HDK) per week.
  • TalkSpace – Online therapy for adults & teens, currently offering US$80 off. Psychiatrists and medication management are available. Weekly plans start at US$69/week (~540 HKD).
  • Other Hong Kong telehealth startups like MindFi offer online psychology services along with their other healthcare offerings.
  • For traditional in-office therapy, the Centre for Counseling and Psychology is a well-known local provider.

*Based on an exchange rate of 1 USD = 7.82 HKD. Rates may fluctuate.

However, BetterHelp still has a first-mover advantage, global scope, and English fluency that keeps it highly competitive and more likely widely utilized in Hong Kong’s online therapy landscape.

Free or low-cost mental health resources

Hong Kong

Suicide Prevention Helpline:

  • The Samaritan Befrienders Hong Kong:2389 2222
  • Suicide Prevention Services:2382 0000
  • Caritas Family Crisis Support Centre:18288

China

110 (police) and 120 (ambulance) are the national emergency numbers in mainland China.

  • Beijing Suicide Research and Prevention Center (http://www.crisis.org.cn), a World Health Organization Collaborating Centre for Research and Training in Suicide Prevention, available 24/7 at 800-810-1117 (for landline callers) or 010-8295-1332 (for mobile and VoIP callers)
  • Lifeline China (https://www.lifelinechina.org/) available 10am to 10pm every day at 400 821 1215.
  • Shanghai Mental Health Center (http://www.smhc.org.cn) functions as a mental health facility while also educating, studying, and strategizing mental health promotion nationwide. They can be contacted at 021-64387250.

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

betterhelp logo
betterhelp review

4.5 (7,344+) FROM TRUSTPILOT

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

✓ Over 35K credentialed professionals

✓ Financial aid available

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

✓ Cancel plan or change therapist anytime

20% off your first month through Therapy Helpers

Verdict: Should I use BetterHelp in Hong Kong?

Online therapy platforms such as BetterHelp have rapidly changed the landscape of mental health services in Hong Kong.

With rising demand and interest, online counseling offers a convenient option for anyone ready to address their mental health needs.

While there are some limitations compared to in-person therapy, the advantages of flexibility, affordability, and accessibility make these services worthwhile for many people in Hong Kong seeking help.

As long as both clients and therapists take some precautions and cultural considerations into account, BetterHelp connects people globally with credentialed, professional English-speaking, and potentially some Mandarin or Cantonese-speaking therapists.

This model presents an innovative way forward for expanding and improving access to mental health resources in Hong Kong.

FAQs

Is online therapy as effective as in-person therapy?

Yes, studies show online therapy can be as effective as in-person treatment if conducted by a credentialed, qualified mental health professional using proven techniques. The openness fostered via video chat leads to a significant level of progress.

Do I need any special equipment for online therapy?

All you need is a quiet room and a device with a webcam and microphone. For video sessions, a computer, smartphone, or tablet with a strong internet connection will work. For phone sessions, any phone with good reception is sufficient.

How is online therapy billed and paid for?

Locally based online therapists may accept insurance coverage or direct pay. You would pay any copays or session fees through their online booking system, usually via credit card. Popular online therapy platforms, like BetterHelp, handle all payments directly through their portal and connect you to the therapist, skipping the need to handle payments with the therapist directly.

References

  1. What is the mental health situation in Hong Kong? https://www.mind.org.hk/mental-health-in-hong-kong
  2. Waiting Time for New Case Booking for Specialist Out-patient Services. https://www.ha.org.hk/visitor/ha_visitor_index.asp?Content_ID=214197&Lang=ENG&Dimension=100&Parent_ID=10053
  3. South China Morning Post. Hong Kong’s shortage of healthcare professionals should not be linked to patient’s attack on women in shopping centre, official says. https://www.scmp.com/news/hong-kong/health-environment/article/3223783/hong-kongs-shortage-healthcare-professionals-not-related-patients-attack-women-shopping-centre-says
  4. The Effectiveness of Internet-Based Cognitive Behavioral Therapy in Treatment of Psychiatric Disorders. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5659300/
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Tackling the stigma of mental illness in Hong Kong

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About the author

Ava Cheng

Ava Cheng

Hey there, I'm Ava Cheng—an inquisitive soul originally from Hong Kong now based in Singapore. As a physiotherapist, I have a passion for understanding women's health and the crossroads of medicine and psychology. Living in the heart of Singapore, I'm on a constant journey to explore the latest trends in these fascinating fields. The human body and mind never fail to amaze me, and I'm determined to unravel their mysteries one discovery at a time. Let's embark on this intellectual adventure together! Social

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