by Janet Fanaki
BetterHelp provides online connections to licensed behaviour therapists and counsellors via text or phone conversations.
I came across this site while doing some research and it immediately intrigued me. Having been a fan of in-person therapy for a number of years now, I wanted to give online counselling a go.
The registration is simple with straightforward questions. All are meant to gauge the client's needs, history of counselling services and risk level.
Some of the questions relate to the type of counselling that's requested (ie individual or family), issues that you'd like to work on, whether you have had counselling before, sexual orientation and marital status, thoughts of suicide, as well as alcohol consumption.
Within an hour I was contacted by a counsellor. Here is his first message to me...
"My name is Dr. xxx xxxx and I am a licensed therapist (license number LPC xxx).
Welcome to the online counseling room, which will be our private and secure place to communicate. This room is open 24/7, and you can enter it at any time, from any Internet-connected device wherever you are.
To help us get started, can you please tell me what brought you here? Just write a few short sentences about the challenges you're experiencing or what you would like to talk about and we will go from there.
Looking forward to working with you,"
Personal and approachable is how I would characterize it.
For some people, the idea of anonymously sharing their personal feelings through a website is very appealing especially in the age of social media. After all, we live in a time where people post their most intimate sad moments to thousands of strangers in the hope of getting back encouragement and a sense of belonging.
BetterHelp goes beyond that in actually connecting users with a professional who recommends solid action plans and advice for a relatively low fee.
For $49 US/week (approximately $65 CDN) clients can video or audio message with a therapist. This is a lower option to in-person therapy with the average price being $250/session for a licensed psychotherapist, with many recommending weekly visits.
When he did not receive a reply from me from his initial note, my therapist even followed up to check-in and make sure I was alright. That was comforting.
I would recommend BetterHelp to someone who was curious about therapy or is looking for a different method of receiving it. It certainly turns traditional therapy on it's head but I would argue that getting any kind of help from a licensed practitioner is better than getting none at all.
I'd love to know what you think of it.