BetterHelp vs Sondermind (A brief review)

This review will compare the features offered by two mental health platforms, BetterHelp and Sondermind. Both of these platforms are extensively popular and differ in only one major aspect. While BetterHelp only offers therapy services, Sondermind offers both therapy as well as psychiatry.

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The table below will show you the main differences between BetterHelp and Sondermind while also pointing out the areas of similarity that both of them share.

 Feature  BetterHelp Sondermind
 Types of services  Therapy Therapy and Psychiatry
 Pricing  Min 240 USD Min $85 USD per session
 Payment options   All major credit cards, Paypal,HSA, FSA All major credit cards,HSA, FSA
 Insurance   Unavailable Available
 Age group  13 years and above 13 years and above

BetterHelp

Pros

  • BetterHelp can be used from anywhere
  • It offers couples therapy and teens therapy
  • Unlimited messaging is available

Cons

  • It does not have insurance coverage
  • Pricing may differ from region to region
  • It does not have psychiatry services

Sondermind

Pros

  • Sondermind offers therapy as well as psychiatry
  • It can be covered through insurance
  • It has the option of in-person sessions

Cons

  • Quality of service can depend on the provider
  • There is no mobile app
  • Users have experienced billing issues

 

About BetterHelp

BetterHelp was launched in 2013 by Alon Matas with the help of Danny Bragonier. Matas faced several challenges when he sought professional counseling for his own mental health needs. He wanted to create a platform which allows users to consult with professional therapists in a short span of time.

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Picture credit: BetterHelp

The result was BetterHelp which was then acquired by Teladoc in 2015. BetterHelp offers high quality therapy services for anyone who is experiencing mental health issues. The therapy sessions are offered through various formats that users can choose from, such as live chats, live audio sessions and live video sessions.

BetterHelp also offers messaging therapy in which the user can communicate with the therapist at any given time. The cost of therapy in BetterHelp is pretty affordable and the platform also offers financial assistance to those who are unemployed, disabled, veterans or even those who have lost their jobs due to the pandemic.

About Sondermind

Sondermind is basically a billing company through which anyone can get easy access to all types of mental health care. The company was launched in 2017 by Mark Frank and Sean Boyd and is presently headquartered in Denver. Sondermind is catering to thousands of individuals by helping them easily access mental health care providers.

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Picture credit: Sondermind

In this platform, the user can find services for therapy and can also find psychiatrists who can diagnose and prescribe medications. Sondermind acts like a broker and takes care of the paperwork and billing that often comes with mental health care. The platform ensures that users can connect with a professional within a day or two at the maximum.

Best features of BetterHelp

BetterHelp has been providing therapy services for almost 2 million users ever since its launch. The popularity of the platform is mainly because of several great features that are unique to it. Some of the best features of BetterHelp have been explored in the points below.

BetterHelp operates completely online

BetterHelp operates completely online and thus can be used from anywhere and everywhere. The user only requires a stable internet connection and a smart device. Thus, the platform becomes a solution for those who reside in remote areas that may have a dearth of mental health professionals. It can also be useful for those who are confined to their homes for various reasons.

It offers therapy in various formats

The therapy in BetterHelp is offered through various formats. The live therapy sessions in BetterHelp can be availed through live chats, live audio sessions and even live video sessions. These have a time limit of 30 minutes but this can extend up to an hour depending on the discretion of the therapist.

It has couples therapy

Couples therapy is another feature that is made possible in BetterHelp. The couples therapy in this platform is conducted through ReGain which is the sister website of BetterHelp. Couples therapy online is conducted through various modes that include live sessions and also unlimited messaging with the therapist from both the partners.

It provides therapy for teens

Teenagers or adolescents between the ages of 13 years to 17 years can also avail therapy through BetterHelp. These sessions require the user to provide consent from their parents or legal guardians before they can proceed. Therapy for teenagers is basically the need of the hour today, especially since this age group faces a variety of stressors on a daily basis.

It has group sessions

Group sessions are also available in BetterHelp. These are called ‘groupinars’ and are conducted about once a week. Those who want to participate can register themselves and will receive a link to join via email. This link will be active for about a week during which the user can view the session in its entirety at their convenience.

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Picture credit: BetterHelp

It offers financial aid

While BetterHelp does not offer insurance coverage, it provides financial assistance or aid for certain categories. Those who are unemployed, currently studying or those who have been furloughed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, can easily request financial assistance. This aid can also be applied to those who are disabled or have veteran status.

BetterHelp has messaging therapy

BetterHelp allows unlimited messaging for all its users. Through the messaging therapy, users can send any number of messages to their therapists at any time of the day. The messages can also be sent as text messages, audio messages and video messages according to the convenience and preference of the user.

 

It is fully HIPAA compliant

The platform is fully HIPAA compliant and thus the user does not have to worry about the safety and security of their data or identity here. While the live therapy sessions are definitely not recorded, BetterHelp may store the messages sent between the user and the therapist for training or quality assurance.

The client-therapist fit is great here

The fit between the client and the therapist is guaranteed to be superb in BetterHelp, mainly as the platform uses a smart algorithm for the matching process. The user is quizzed extensively about their therapist preferences during sign-up and this data is used to bring the most compatible and suitable provider for them by the algorithm.

It offers many other therapy resources

The process of therapy itself is made easy and effective in BetterHelp through a number of resources or accessories. Users can find features like online journaling and templates and also digital worksheets through which they can practice scheduling, mental exercises and coping strategies to improve their mental health in and out of therapy sessions.

Best features of Sondermind

Sondermind, as a mental health care platform, has a large library of features that can be beneficial for its users. The best features of the platform have been explained as follows.

Sondermind is completely HIPAA compliant

Sondermind takes the security and privacy of its users very seriously. And thus, the platform has incorporated various security measures that make it completely and thoroughly HIPAA compliant. The platform also mentions explicitly that the live therapy sessions between the user and the provider are never recorded for any purpose.

It offers therapy as well as psychiatry

In Sondermind, the user can access therapy as well as psychiatry services as per their need. Thus, the platform becomes a great pit-stop for all needs related to mental health care. The medications prescribed through Sondermind are supplied through the local pharmacy of the user. However, it has to be noted that controlled substances cannot be prescribed through Sondermind.

 

The platform is very easy to use

Sondermind is really easy to use and makes mental health care a breeze for anyone. The platform also guarantees users access to a therapist within a time frame of 24 to 48 hours. Furthermore, the platform takes care of the billing, paperwork and insurance that can be frustrating in the process of seeking mental health care.

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Picture credit: Sondermind

It can be covered through insurance

Another great thing about Sondermind is that it can be easily and most definitely covered by insurance. The platform has tied up with several in-network providers like Cigna and Aetna through which therapy and medications become more affordable and thus more accessible for many.

The providers are licensed and certified

The therapists and psychiatrists who are part of the directory in Sondermind are licensed and certified. They also need to have a certain amount of experience before they are allowed to practice on the platform. And thus, the user can be guaranteed of high quality mental health care through Sondermind.

 

It allows online as well as in-person sessions

Sondermind gives more control to the user and they can choose the type of sessions they want. The platform is one of the few online mental health care platforms that gives the user the options of virtual sessions or in-person sessions. It is due to this versatility that Sondermind is preferred for mental health care by many today.

Pricing of BetterHelp

The cost of therapy through BetterHelp is $60 to $90 per week and this is billed every four weeks. Users can even make payments through HSA or FSA accounts for their therapy in BetterHelp. The costs of therapy can depend on the location of the user and the number of therapists who are available in that region.

 

Pricing of Sondermind

The cost of therapy or a psychiatry consultation in Sondermind is much more affordable than traditional mental health care settings. For one hour of therapy through Sondermind, the user will have to pay a sum of $85. The costs may be higher for the initial consultation with a psychiatrist and can drastically reduce for the follow-up sessions.

Signing up for BetterHelp

Signing up for BetterHelp is pretty easy and very quickly done. The user can go to a website or the app and take the brief emotional assessment given. They will also have to mention the type of therapist they are leaning towards. Once this is completed, the platform will match the user with a compatible therapist after which therapy can start in a couple of days.

Signing up for Sondermind

New users of Sondermind will have to go to the website and click on the ‘Meet with a therapist’ option. This will take them to the next page where they will be prompted to complete a brief questionnaire. Once the user provides their location, Sondermind will show them the various therapists and providers who are practicing locally after which they can schedule a session.

Tips for using BetterHelp

BetterHelp can be tricky for those who are new to online therapy itself. Some tips or suggestions that new users of BetterHelp can find helpful have been mentioned in the points below.

  • BetterHelp offers various formats of live therapy sessions. Whichever live session you are opting for, it is advisable that you conduct these in a quiet and comfortable corner in your home. If you are unable to find an appropriate space in your house for this, you can always use a quiet park or even a friend’s house.
  • BetterHelp offers unlimited messaging to its users. You don’t have to use this only for communication but can utilize this feature for multiple purposes. You can use this for venting, journaling and even to set reminders for topics that need to be discussed in live therapy sessions.
  • The platform also has an online journaling feature through which you can express your thoughts and feelings on a daily basis. While this is certainly helpful and simple to use, you can always use a physical journal if you are old-school. Just write down in your journal whenever you receive a prompt from BetterHelp.
  • If you are opting for a live video therapy session, make sure that your selfie view is turned off. This will help you focus better on what your therapist is saying rather than dwelling on how you look during your sessions.

 

Tips for using Sondermind

Those who are planning on using Sondermind for the purpose of mental health care can use the suggestions below to improve their experience on this platform.

  • Sondermind allows its consultations and appointments to be conducted through video sessions. To help you get the best out of these in an undisturbed manner, it is recommended that you check your devices and internet connection prior to the session.
  • Since everything is done online, your provider may not be able to see your body language. To help them understand you better, you can be more expressive and articulate about your thoughts and feelings. This will not only improve the communication process but also help you in sorting your thoughts and feelings.
  • The platform also has numerous free resources that are open to anyone on its website. These cover not only therapy and treatments but also other areas of life like career and relationships.

Personal experiences in BetterHelp

Most users have had positive experiences in BetterHelp. Some of their experiences have been explained crisply in the section below.

  • Many BetterHelp users have bragged about the usefulness of the groupinars that are conducted every week. The best advantage that users experience in these group sessions is that they can remain anonymous. The group sessions also cover a variety of topics related to mental health and mental illness.
  • A large percentage of users have felt that their mental health has significantly improved with the help of therapy through BetterHelp. They have also enjoyed the fact that the platform provides multiple formats of therapy and counseling.
  • Some users have complained about the pricing in BetterHelp as it varies depending on the location of the user.
  • A few users have felt that messaging therapy is too impersonal and ineffective as immediate responses from the therapist are not always guaranteed. Many responses from the therapist in the unlimited messaging feature have been found to be way too generic.

 

Personal experiences in Sondermind

Sondermind is still the go-to platform for mental health care for numerous individuals. Some experiences that users have had in this platform are described in the points below.

  • Most users have liked the fact that Sondermind makes mental health care very easily accessible. Users have been able to consult with a provider within a day or two of signing up, which is much lesser than traditional mental health care settings.
  • Many users have also enjoyed the fact that they don’t have to worry about the paperwork related to mental health care and the insurance as the platform takes care of it for them.
  • However, a large percentage of users have complained about the billing in Sondermind that often shows the incorrect amount or is not transparent about the insurance.

 

Conclusion

BetterHelp and Sondermind are both fantastic options for those who are seeking mental health care. While BetterHelp offers only therapy, in Sondermind users can find therapists as well as psychiatrists for their mental health needs. BetterHelp employs its own therapists while Sondermind acts as a broker between users and providers.

BetterHelp offers live therapy sessions through audio format, video format and even offers a live chat option for therapy. In addition to this, users can also communicate with their therapists through unlimited messaging which is also available in various formats. In BetterHelp, users can find therapy for individuals, couples therapy, teens therapy and even group therapy sessions.

Sondermind is a billing company which acts as a matchmaker between individuals and mental health care providers. Users who sign up for Sondermind can go through the categories and find the providers they want to work with. The prices are quite affordable and insurance coverage is also easily possible here.

Frequently asked questions:

Does Anthem cover Sondermind?

Yes, Anthem does cover Sondermind among many other insurance providers like Cigna, Blue Cross and CareFirst. Through insurance coverage, mental health care in Sondermind becomes a lot more accessible and affordable for everyone.

How long are Sondermind sessions?

The therapy sessions in Sondermind usually are for the duration of thirty minutes. This can also be extended up to 60 minutes depending on the needs and requirements of the user.

How long has Sondermind been in business?

Sondermind has been in business since 2014. This mental health care company was launched by Mark Frank and provides both therapy as well as psychiatry services. The platform has also ensured that its prices are way cheaper than traditional mental health care settings and additionally offers insurance coverage for its services.

Does BetterHelp offer video sessions?

Yes, BetterHelp offers live video sessions for therapy. In addition to the video format, BetterHelp also offers live audio sessions and live chats. The live sessions are for a period of thirty minutes, but can be extended up to an hour depending on the availability of the therapists. Users get two live sessions in a month with their subscription.

 

Can you do BetterHelp video sessions on your phone?

Yes, you can do BetterHelp video sessions on your phone or any other smart device. This can be done through any web browser or through the BetterHelp app. This high level of convenience is one of the best-selling points of BetterHelp.

How do Groupinars work on BetterHelp?

Groupinars in BetterHelp are essentially the group sessions that are conducted about once a week. These group sessions are conducted in the form of webinars and cover more than 20 different topics related to mental health and mental illness. Those who want to participate in these sessions will need to register themselves beforehand.

Once they are registered, the users will get a link in their email with which they can participate in the session live. They can also watch the video for a span of seven days in which the link will be active. BetterHelp allows users to remain anonymous while participating in the group sessions. Those who have questions in mind will need to post them up before the session starts.

Does BetterHelp have a free trial?

No, BetterHelp does not have a free trial. This is mainly because the platform uses the emotional and mental labor of its therapists to cater to the mental health needs and requirements of users. However, the platform rolls out many special offers and discounts throughout the year and also has financial assistance for those who are finding affordability an issue here.

How often do BetterHelp therapists respond?

In the messaging therapy feature of BetterHelp, therapists are likely to respond once or twice per day. However, the user can send unlimited messages to their therapists at any time of the day. If the user wants real-time responses, they will need to schedule a live therapy session which can be conducted via live chat, live audio sessions or even live video sessions.

What happens if you don’t like your therapist on BetterHelp?

If you don’t like your therapist on BetterHelp, you can easily contact the support team of the platform and they will switch your provider for you. While the platform uses an algorithm to match the user with a therapist, users can also search for therapists on their own by going through the directory in the platform.

Is BetterHelp anonymous?

Yes, BetterHelp allows its users to remain anonymous throughout the course of their therapy. Users can utilize the services of the platform through a nickname in which their identity will be secure. The platform also offers various formats of live therapy sessions like audio sessions and chat sessions in which the user can maintain their anonymity even more.

If you like this post, please leave your comments and questions in the space below.

Citations

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/BetterHelp
https://www.crunchbase.com/organization/betterhelp/technology
https://www.apa.org/monitor/2017/02/online-therapy
https://www.crunchbase.com/organization/sondermind
https://www.builtincolorado.com/company/sondermind
https://www.bloomberg.com/profile/company/1624198D:US
https://www.globenewswire.com/news-release/2019/04/23/1808055/0/en/SonderMind-Raises-3-Million-in-Series-A-Financing-to-Advance-its-Mission-of-Making-Behavioral-Health-More-Accessible-Approachable-and-Utilized.html

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