One of the great things about BetterHelp is the different ways you can communicate with your therapist. The options you have are phone call, live instant messaging, or up-and-back messages similar to email.
I have taken good advantage of all three. Let's take them in order :)
Phone Call. The phone call is free once every month for 20 minutes. (You are welcome to do more phone calls or longer ones for a fee, which is usually less than $30 per 20 minutes.) A recent alternative is a video chat, which works like a Skype call where you can actually see your therapist.
Live Instant Messaging. Schedule a time with your therapist for written up-and-back messages, and have an experience which is similar to IM'ing with programs such as AIM or Skype. It's all through the Betterhelp platform, but you can write up and back quickly with your therapist who will be online and working directly with you.
Written Messages: The simplest method of communicating is writing messages of any length to your therapist that are like e-mail, but again directly through the BetterHelp platform. Then your therapist will reply to you--usually within a day or so. You can write as many messages as you want, asking questions and talking about the important things happening in your life. A good counselor will always make you feel very listened to in their reply.
So what's the best method? It all depends on what you're looking for.
Phone and video chats are best for very important topics, as well as feeling the need for a more direct connection (as we all do sometimes!) The only downsides to the phone call are that it requires scheduling in advance, and also if you're the middle of a valuable conversation, it will usually be best to pay to finish it rather than end the call as the free period nears its finish.
Instant messaging is most valuable for shorter up-and-back questions. For example, let's say you want advice about how to have a difficult conversation with your spouse. You have a lot of small concerns and questions about how this convo may develop and what he might say, and a great format to ask these would be with instant messaging. The one thing to remember with instant messaging is that you do have to wait for your therapist to be available.
My personal preference for most communication is the email-style written messages. These can be as long or short as you want. You can write as much or little as you want, any time day or night. You can ask questions, tell your therapist what's on your mind, or use these in any way that's best for you. Of course there is one tradeoff with this option as well, which is that you will of course have to wait for a reply. But for me, this is my favorite everyday method of using BetterHelp.
How do you like communicating with your BetterHelp counselor?
Every therapist is different, both in traditional counseling and online therapy. With that said, there are certain qualities that all good counselors have and that you should definitely expect to find at BetterHelp. If for any reason you feel you're missing one or more, take advantage of the open offer the site provides to switch therapists.
Listening. Your therapist should always listen to you. Any time you open up, talk about a problem, or share something on your mind, their reply should make you feel listened to and validated.
Supportive. Your counselor has to have your back. They are in your corner, they encourage you, and they actively want you to succeed.
Knowledgeable. A good therapist knows their subject matter very well from extensive education, reading, and practice.. For example, if you give symptoms of anxiety, depression, or bi-polar disorder, they should recognize this and suggest the best possible course of action as a result.
Giving Concrete Advice. It's great if you can talk and open up to your therapist, and get thoughtful questions and encouragement in return. But your therapist should also offer specific advice to help you solve your problems.
Making You Feel Better. Above all else, no matter how he/she accomplishes this, talking to your therapist should make you feel better. You should come away feeling great from having someone who listens to you and encourages you, feeling motivated to improve yourself, and feeling confident that you can accomplish your goals.
Do you have other qualities you look for in a therapist?
There are many areas of your life that can be improved through online therapy. Here are five of the most important ones.
Anxiety. Whether you have panic attacks, phobias, or night-time anxiety, your therapist can help you decrease this anxiety and feel better. It's believed that 40% of adults suffer from at least occasional anxiety, which can cause depression, relationship problems, and even pain. Drugs like xanax and valium are addictive short-term solutions. Give yourself the permanent cure of one-on-one therapy.
Stress. If you feel regular stress about your job, finances, or social situations, there are a variety of techniques and strategies you can use to reduce this stress and feel better. Stress can negatively impact many aspects of your life, and there are many ways to decrease or even eliminate it depending on the cause.
Relationships. Whether you're having trouble in your relationships or fighting with your significant other, your quality of life will instantly increase when you improve in commitment, love life, and effective communication. Relationship problems were one of the big reasons I joined Betterhelp along with anxiety, and my counselor has been extremely helpful in my marriage.
Addictions. Whether smoking, gambling, or drugs, addiction is a psychological problem that many can't control on their own. If you have one of these problems, don't let it hurt your life anymore.
Grief. There are many causes of grief including the death of a loved one, the loneliness of divorce, or past trauma. You deserve to get past grief and enjoy your life again.
What else has BetterHelp helped you with?
I (Colin) have learned so much from my Betterhelp therapist Charisse, so I wanted to share a few of the tips that have helped me the most.
Bring up issues that are important to you. This one might be second-nature to many, but for some reason I was routinely not doing it. I would instead just feel upset and let that influence my interactions with her. It is much better to bring anything up at the time, in a pleasant way, rather than swallow it and let resentment build up.
For example, suppose she's telling him about something important to her that happened at work. He listens for a minute, then says, "Oh that's good. By the way, I got a call today from..."
If she (very reasonably) feels upset that he's not paying attention or giving her the interaction she wants, her best course of action is to be upfront. "Hey I know you have a lot going on too, but I was telling you about something important to me and it kind of came across like you didn't care too much when you quickly changed the subject."
The benefits to this approach are that he gets the chance to make things right immediately, and she won't harbor resentment having spoken her mind already.
Listen and validate feelings. There's a saying: "The first step in any successful negotiation is to establish rapport." The same applies for relationships. If one person feels like they're not being understood, it's very difficult for any progress to be made.
Here's an example. Suppose she wants to go on a trip on a trip to see her family. He replies: "What are you talking about! We just went to see your family a couple months ago. It's expensive and there's no way I'm gonna ask for the time off work."
This will likely lead to an argument (in part because it's rude!), and in part because he's not listening to her and validating her feelings. So instead he might say: "I know you'd really like to go again next month to see your family, and I would really enjoy that too. But it would be a lot easier for me to take the time off work if we waited a bit longer. What do you think?"
Both people in a relationship will be more critical when things aren't going well. Imagine that one of his chores is to take out the trash every night. He doesn't do it one night. She gets upset at him, he responds unpleasantly, and they get in a fight. What went wrong here?
Most likely, the problem is that they are having other relationship problems that cause both to see the other person in an unforgiving way. If they were getting along great, she'd probably have just reminded him pleasantly and he'd say "Oh sorry I'll do that now."
The key thing is that if there are a lot of little disagreements popping up, or larger problems that seem to have surfaced out of nowhere, it's very important to work on the fundamentals of the relationship instead of just treating the symptoms.
I hope these tips come in useful! If you have any you'd like to share, we'd love to hear about them in the comments.
An important component of BetterHelp is the new member questionnaire. The first step to getting help is completing this series of questions, which takes around 5 minutes. Doing so has two main benefits.
First, your answers are used to match you up with the best possible therapist based on your particular needs. In conventional therapy, a large part of what determines who you'll end up seeing is how close the person is to you. (If you're like us, you won't want to travel more than 20-30 minutes to get to a weekly appointment.) With online therapy, however, you can be matched with the best therapist for you anywhere in your state.
During the questionnaire, you'll answer questions about whether you're experiencing anxiety or panic, whether you're having difficulty sleeping, and whether you're feeling overwhelmed.
The other main benefit to the questionnaire is that it serves to get you focused. If you are feeling overwhelmed, it can be very helpful to break this feeling down into specific problems you're having so that you can begin tackling the individual components.
Once you've completed the questionnaire, you can see the results and look at a picture and bio for the therapist that you've been best matched with.
Most of us know the way that traditional therapy works. You have set weekly appointments with a therapist. At these appointed times, you go to your therapist's office and have a 50-minute conversation.
While you can schedule instant messaging sessions with your BetterHelp therapist, and take advantage of the monthly call, the typical BetterHelp therapy session is your written message and your counselor's reply. It all starts with the first message once you've signed up. Here's Katie's:
As we talk about in the main review, here are some of the main benefits to this format:
The therapy is completely at your pace. Take as much advantage as you want of the unlimited messages, and choose the times you want therapy.
You have a full written record you can always go back to. All past messages are available for you to view at any time.
Help is available to you whenever you need it. You can write your therapist any time, instead of waiting for a single hour per week.
As an example, imagine that the day after a traditional, in-person, therapy session, you get into a fight with your significant other. In this case, there is no easy way to get help from therapy besides waiting 6 days.
With BetterHelp, you can start by going back through any past session that helped you, since it's all right there on the app or when you login through your computer. You can then get to work feeling better right away. If you're therapist is online, you might be able to do instant messaging or a call right then. If not, then you write your message, which usually makes me feel better by putting it on paper.
We hope you give it a try and let us know what you think!
One very nice benefit of BetterHelp membership is the free additional resources.
BetterHelp offers articles on a variety of different topics that are meant to complement the therapy you're receiving. We'll get to the topic of Groupinars in a moment, but let's begin with the articles. What distinguishes BetterHelp articles from other ones you'll find online is that they are meant to give immediate, practical help.
For example, here is the start of an article that appears right on the mobile app for relationship counseling. It starts with a brief description of what it will cover, and then goes immediately into three specific suggestions to help couples having problems in their relationship.
Most important are the free groupinars. A groupinar is an interactive seminar open to members where an expert helps everyone to work on a particular issue and improve their life. Common groupinar topics include overcoming anxiety, improving relationships, and career/employment.
As an example, one groupinar that will take place in a few days from the time of writing is on the topic of Positive Thinking. If, like us, you sometimes find yourself focusing too much on negative thoughts, you can attend this groupinar to learn how to get better at focusing on the positive.
In our main review of BetterHelp, we talk about how the therapy is unlimited. This means that you can message your counselor as often as you like. It also means that you now have unlimited resources at your disposal, including articles and interactive groupinars..
Hi! My name is Katie. My husband and I are writing this blog to talk about our experiences with BetterHelp online therapy.