The idea of mental health is accepted as a reality today. Mental concerns were misunderstood and taboo years ago, but we’ve come a long way in removing those stigmas. According to the World Health Organization, depression affects about 280 million people worldwide, while 301 million live with anxiety disorders.
One of the best ways to manage mental health disorders before they can do real damage is to seek professional help. Talk therapy is a popular treatment approach that can help people unpack and understand their feelings under the guidance of a qualified psychologist.
However, many people don’t have the time or money to visit a therapist in person in today’s tight economy. Fortunately, online therapy can help patients conveniently receive the care they need.
This article compares two popular online therapy platforms: Headway and BetterHelp. We’ll discuss the differences and similarities between the two to help you choose the best one for your mental health needs.
- Company Overview: Headway
- Company Overview: BetterHelp
- Headway vs BetterHelp: Therapists
- Headway vs BetterHelp: Services Offered
- Headway vs BetterHelp: Pricing
- How You Communicate With Your Therapist
- Headway vs BetterHelp Comparison
- Customer Reviews for BetterHelp
- Customer Reviews for Headway
- The Final Verdict
Company Overview: Headway
Headway is a New York-based virtual therapy marketplace that aims to restructure mental health care to make it more accessible across the US. Co-founder Andrew Adams is the acting CEO of the company, which he incorporated under Therapymatch Inc. in 2018. Its core values focus on diversity and inclusivity, attracting professionals and support staff from all walks of life.
The business model Headway uses makes it easier for clinicians to collaborate with health insurance providers. At its core, Headway is a software company that runs an online community and networking portal, facilitating claims, billing, and benefits verification for their therapist clients.
On the patient’s end, finding a therapist is as simple as online dating. The extensive provider network is easy to navigate, and you can make instant bookings with your chosen provider from the app.
Company Overview: BetterHelp
Serial entrepreneur Alon Matas founded BetterHelp in 2013 to make therapy more accessible to everyday people. In 2015, Teladoc Health acquired the company, which has since grown to become the world’s largest online therapy platform. It brought going to therapy into the mainstream, with dozens of influencer and celebrity endorsements since its inception.
The platform allows patients to connect with licensed therapists from their phones or laptops, breaking many previous barriers to mental health care. BetterHelp has also partnered with businesses and educational institutions in recent years. Employers and educators can now offer their staff and students affordable mental health benefits and support directly through the app.
Headway vs BetterHelp: Therapists
Therapy is most effective when you “connect” with your therapist. Finding a psychologist you genuinely like often takes trial and error if you take the traditional route, which is why online therapy has become so popular. Headway and BetterHelp pride themselves on their large provider pools, spoiling their customers for choice at the click of a button.
BetterHelp’s therapist network is over 30,000 strong. The company only works with trained psychologists with academic degrees, at least three years of working experience, and the relevant board certifications to practice specifically in the United States. According to their website, it only accepts 25% of therapists who apply to work with BetterHelp, thanks to its stringent screening process.
Headway has about 26,000 mental health professionals in its network, including counselors, psychologists, social workers, and psychiatrists. Like BetterHelp, it only contracts with fully-trained, board-certified practitioners in each state. All providers must also complete a background check and provide professional references before joining the Headway directory.
Perhaps the only difference between the provider pools at BetterHelp and Headway is the psychiatrists. Unlike Headway, BetterHelp does not work with psychiatrists, so you can’t use the app to access prescription medication.
Headway vs BetterHelp: Services Offered
BetterHelp offers support for a diverse range of mental health concerns, including anxiety, depression, grief counseling, career coaching, and more. It also provides couple’s therapy to help partners overcome relationship challenges and age-appropriate counseling for teens.
To get started with BetterHelp, you’ll need to answer a detailed questionnaire. You provide information about yourself and your preferences to help the system match you to a therapist you might like. You will be matched with a therapist about 24 hours later (at a maximum). Then, you can schedule a virtual appointment with them or choose a different provider.
BetterHelp providers cannot prescribe medication or diagnose mental health disorders.
Like BetterHelp, Headway can provide therapy for depression, anxiety, grief, and relationship problems. You can also search its directory for childhood or adolescent mental health specialists. Headway allows you to search for therapists using specific concerns as filters for the results you see. For example, you can search for someone who specializes in eating disorders, substance abuse, or LGBTQIA+ counseling.
Therapist matching is where Headway and BetterHelp differ. Headway does not ask you to complete a questionnaire and will not automatically match you with a provider. Instead, you choose your state and compare available therapists yourself. Finally, patients who take medication for mental health disorders can fill their prescriptions using Headway by connecting with a licensed psychiatrist.
Headway vs BetterHelp: Pricing
Despite the impressive reach of the psychology industry, it is not accessible to a staggering 42% of Americans. Therapy can be expensive, especially for those who don’t have health insurance. Even with insurance, however, you might still face exorbitant out-of-pocket costs. Telehealth platforms like BetterHelp and Headway can make therapy more affordable.
With BetterHelp, you pay a monthly subscription fee, giving you access to the complete provider directory. Your subscription covers up to four sessions with any therapist per month. The billing occurs weekly, but you only receive a bill once every four weeks. Depending on your needs and location, subscription costs range from $60 to $90 per week.
Headway uses a traditional pricing model where you pay per therapy session. The app is free; you only pay once you have booked a session with a licensed therapist. Unfortunately, you can’t use Headway if you don’t have health insurance, as the company contracts directly with insurance providers.
According to the company’s website, its average client saves 75% on therapy sessions thanks to Headway’s negotiated prices with insurance companies. While the exact price depends on your insurance coverage, you can expect co-pays as low as $20 – $50 per session.
How You Communicate With Your Therapist
One of the main draws of BetterHelp is its live chat function. You can use it to converse with your therapist in real time without the pressure of a video or voice call. You’ll still need to make an appointment so your therapist can block off time for a text conversation, but you can do it from anywhere. You also have the choice of video sessions and phone calls.
Headway, on the other hand, only offers video conferencing. It doesn’t have a chat function, and you can’t typically make simple phone calls either. However, it allows you to book in-person appointments if your provider has an office nearby.
Headway vs BetterHelp Comparison
Headway and BetterHelp offer online therapy at discounted prices compared to traditional in-clinic care. Use the table below for an overview of each platform and how they compare.
|Live chat with a therapist
|Access without insurance
|Therapist matching option
|Available in all 50 US states
|Choose your own therapist
|Online group sessions
Customer Reviews for BetterHelp
Betterhelp has a rating of 4.5 stars on Trustpilot. This rating considers over 6,000 customer reviews, 89% of which were positive. Many people praise the therapists for excellent advice and professionalism, as well as the platform’s convenience and ease of use. Some of the most notable positive reviews include the following points:
- It’s easy to change therapists when yours isn’t available, so you can still receive therapy with a busy schedule.
- Live group sessions help you feel less alone and help you connect with people in the community.
- Classes on a range of subjects give you extra resources to use during your healing journey.
- You are matched with a therapist quickly–typically within a week.
- It makes it easy to shop around for the best therapist if you don’t connect with one immediately.
- It’s way more affordable than going for therapy in person.
- The app is easy to use and very secure–password and SLL-protected.
- You can get reduced fees if you need financial assistance.
Although most reviews are positive, there are a few negative ratings. Here are a few pain points some clients reported when using BetterHelp:
- Planning is difficult because you can’t schedule your sessions in advance or back-to-back. You might not get the therapist you need or have long enough sessions with them.
- Therapists are hit or miss. Sometimes, they offer generic advice and unprofessional service, so you must keep looking until you find a good one.
- You’re charged for four weeks even if you don’t do four therapy sessions. You also can’t bank up sessions and carry them over into the new month.
- The app has many technical issues–it’s prone to crashing, freezing, etc.
Customer Reviews for Headway
Headway has a rating of 4.3 stars on Trustpilot. This rating draws from 474 customer reviews, 83% of which were positive. Most customers enjoyed the app’s responsive design and ease of use and generally have good things to say about the therapists available on the platform. Here’s a summary of people’s positive experiences with Headway:
- The team is very communicative, and the professional support staff is very responsive should you ever encounter any issues using Headway.
- The billing is seamless. Headway handles all communication with your insurance provider, including a breakdown of claims and benefits. There is no admin for providers and patients.
- The calendar feature allows you to book your appointments in advance and get an idea of your therapist’s availability for the upcoming weeks.
- It’s affordable and accepts most major insurance providers.
- The app is free, and you only pay for your completed sessions.
Like BetterHelp, Headway also has room for improvement. Here are a few points to consider from the app’s negative reviews:
- There is no phone number for customer service—you must email them, so explaining complex concerns can be time-consuming.
- Therapists are hit or miss, and it can be challenging to find one with specialized knowledge on exceptionally complex problems, such as severe trauma.
- You can’t schedule an appointment unless you have health insurance.
- Using the drop-down menu to search for specific mental health disorders can be restrictive—sometimes, you need care for a host of disconnected concerns.
The Final Verdict
Online therapy can be an affordable and convenient alternative to traditional in-clinic care. Both Headway and BetterHelp are leaders in the industry and offer similar services with comparable benefits. For those with health insurance, Headway may be the better option in terms of affordability. However, for those without insurance, BetterHelp comes out on top.
Finding the right therapist for you on both platforms may take some trial and error. However, it is not all that different from finding a therapist the traditional way. Online therapy is undoubtedly worth the money and time once you find a provider that understands your needs.