The Hidden Dangers of BetterHelp: Protecting Your Mental Health
Updated: Sep 28
In today's fast-paced world, the demand for accessible mental health support has grown exponentially. With its millions of dollars of silicon valley startup money. Many people have seen the marketing and advertising of giant mental health platforms like BetterHelp. Touted for its convenience and on-demand therapy. These platforms promise help at your fingertips, yes is it really the revolutionary change to mental health support it touts itself to be? Today we examine the crucial and hidden dangers that come with these types of on demand health apps.
1. Data Privacy Concerns:
To better understand privacy, we must first understand the structure of mental health professional licensing. Each province in Canada and state in the US have their own rules and privacy laws around keeping client information safe and confidential. Data privacy is a paramount concern when it comes to online therapy platforms like BetterHelp and while it might be following the compliancy rules of one state or province, it does not always mean your information is safe..
Several reports and articles have shed light on these issues:
In an article published by Vice, titled "The Dark Side of Online Therapy Apps," concerns about data privacy and confidentiality on platforms like BetterHelp are discussed. Read more here.
One of the primary concerns surrounding BetterHelp is data privacy. When you share your most personal thoughts and emotions with a therapist on the platform, you might assume that your data is secure. However, BetterHelp has faced criticism for its data handling practices. They might not provide the same level of security and confidentiality that traditional local therapy clinics offer. These local (i.e. within your province) clinics must adhere to the strict privacy and security regulations of their abiding licensing college, often leading these clinics to use more safe and secure platforms to conduct therapy in like JaneApp or TherapyOwl, Platforms that you might have already encountered using when going to see your local allied health professionals (naturopaths, physios, rmts, etc.).
2. Licensing Discrepancies and Quality Control Concerns:
When seeking therapy, it's vital to understand that therapy licensing varies across regions. For example, a therapist licensed in one U.S. state would not be authorized to practice in another state or in country like Canada. This can lead to insurance coverage issues. Always check with your insurance provider to ensure your therapist's credentials align with your coverage.
Another issue is the screening process for therapists on BetterHelp. While they claim to carefully vet their professionals, the reality can be different. Some therapists might not have the appropriate qualifications or experience to address your specific needs. In fact, a quick look at their website will show you that BetterHelp offers access to trained LMFT, and LCSW/LMSW, and LPC therapists. These are all licenses OUTSIDE of Canadian and Ontario contexts and these licenses do not exist in most of our country.
In traditional therapy, you can choose a therapist based on their credentials and specialties, ensuring a better fit for your unique circumstances. Admittedly looking locally can be a bit of an overwhelming experience, other listing platforms like Lumino, Althea Therapy, Psychology Today, Healing in Colour, and Open Path can make the search much easier.
Looking locally within your province always allows you the assurance that your insurance will cover your sessions.
For Ontario residents the three most insurance licensed professionals for psychotherapy are: Registered Psychotherapist, Registered Social Worker, and Registered Psychologist. Other designations that some select insurances within the province cover are: Certified Canadian Counsellor and Registered Marriage and Family Therapist.
3. High Demand and Burnout of BetterHelp Therapists:
The underpayment of therapists on BetterHelp is a significant concern. For many newere therapists BetterHelp offers them a chance at employment but also expects much more demand for their clinicians. Many therapists working on the platform receive lower compensation than they would at a traditional clinic. This can lead to burnout and decreased quality of care, ultimately affecting your therapy experience.
The demand for BetterHelp therapists is incredibly high, leading to concerns about therapist burnout and ethical practice. Unlike local clinics or private practices, BetterHelp doesn't always provide adequate safeguards to prevent burnout or ensure proper supervision. Therapists on the platform may be overwhelmed due to the sheer volume of client and the expectations that BetterHelp place on them.
The demand for BetterHelp therapists is incredibly high, leading to concerns about therapist burnout and ethical practice. Unlike local clinics or private practices, BetterHelp doesn't always provide adequate safeguards to prevent burnout or ensure proper supervision. Therapists on the platform may be overwhelmed due to the sheer volume of clients. Additionally with its lack of consistency in terms of licensing bodies, the quality of therapists you get can also vary. For many, platforms like BetterHelp has turned into a wild wild west of mental heal support; sometimes you’ll strike gold and other times you might find yourself lost and bewildered.
To hear of a first person account of the dangers of online platforms like BetterHelp, check out this vice article of everyday people speaking out about their negative and traumatic experiences on platforms like BetterHelp, TalkSpace, and much more: ARTICLE HERE.
4. Unhealthy On-Demand Access:
BetterHelp's 24/7 accessibility might seem like a perk, but it can also be a double-edged sword. Constant access to your therapist might encourage unhealthy coping mechanisms, where you rely on therapy as a crutch for every emotional challenge.
Therapy should empower individuals with the tools to manage life's challenges effectively. It's essential to understand that therapy is not a constant lifeline but a resource to help you develop coping skills. Relying solely on therapy for immediate relief can hinder personal growth and resilience. A good therapist will guide you in building the skills necessary to navigate life's ups and downs independently.
In traditional therapy, sessions are scheduled, allowing you to develop better coping skills between appointments. It is important to note that everyday talk therapy (i.e. out patient services) is initially not meant to be 24/7 access care. If you are finding a need for more support than this, please consider local in-patient support services by going to your local emergency room or connecting with Connex Ontario to find the right services for you. Talk therapy cannot and should not be used in place for more intensive and comprehensive mental health help.
5. Importance of Finding the Right Fit:
Finding a therapist who truly understands your needs, social context, and community is essential for effective therapy. While BetterHelp offers a wide range of therapists, it's not always easy to find one who aligns with your unique circumstances. Taking the time to search for a therapist outside of BetterHelp, who possesses the right credentials and experiences, can be immensely rewarding in the long run. Oftentimes times therapists outside of Better Help will have their local listings, websites or locations listed on Google Maps. It’s always helpful to shop around and learn more about the potential therapist you want to work with. For example, at Your Story Counselling, our team page has search bars to better help you narrow down your search. Each other our clinician profiles have (or will have soon) video profiles and a list of that therapist’s specialties, training, and special interest to help you find the absolute right fit. Still unsure of who to choose? Clinics often have a trained professional that you can reach out to to help determine best fit, help you book a free consultation, and offer you support and referrals elsewhere if they think that they know of a better fit than themselves.
6. Shop Local, Consider someone closer to you in location and identity:
Clinics like Your Story Counselling offer free 15-minute consultations, allowing you to meet potential therapists and assess whether they're the right fit for you. These consultations offer a personal connection that's often missing in online therapy platforms like BetterHelp. It's a chance to gauge the therapist's expertise and see if you feel comfortable with them before committing to ongoing sessions.
While BetterHelp and similar platforms offer convenience, it's essential to be aware of the hidden dangers they pose, such as data privacy concerns, therapist screening issues, underpayment, and the potential for unhealthy coping mechanisms. Taking the time to find a therapist who is ethically and properly trained (also one who is not underpaid and burnt out!) who truly understands your needs and context, can make a world of difference in your mental health journey.
Your mental health is too important to trade in for just speed and convenience. As mental health professionals we impore you to take your time and think critically about the right kind of support you need, to go to multiple consultations and see who you feel the most comfortable with, so that you can make informed choices when seeking therapy that will truly enact the positive changes you are hoping to make in your life.
Book Your Free 15-Minute Consultation:
If you're seeking personal growth or support on your journey to wholehearted living, we offer a free 15-minute consultation with our team of experienced psychotherapists. Our experts are dedicated to providing compassionate and individualized care, empowering you to navigate life's challenges and embrace your vulnerability. Book your consultation today to take the first step toward living a more fulfilled and authentic life.
Explore Our Team Page:
To find the psychotherapist who best aligns with your needs and goals, we invite you to visit our team page. Our diverse team of experts is committed to providing a safe and supportive environment, tailoring their approach to your unique circumstances. Whether you're seeking guidance on vulnerability, courage, or cultivating authentic connections, our team is here to support you on your path to personal growth and well-being.
At Your Story Counselling, our team of expert therapists are here to help. We specialize in helping folks recover from trauma and build the tools to move forward in life.
We understand that seeking help can be scary, but we believe that everyone deserves a chance at a happy and healthy future.
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So if you're ready to take the first step towards a stronger, healthier relationship with yourself, reach out to us for help today. Remember, it's never too late to seek help, and you and your partner deserve the best possible chance at happiness. Releated Blogs - How To Use Social Media Safely For Your Mental Health Spring Cleaning For Mental Health