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Is BetterHelp a “scam”? Patients tell of “sketchy” therapists

The online therapy platform BetterHelp has come under fire as patients describe on TikTok problematic experiences with their therapists.

BetterHelp, which provides direct-to-consumer mental health services, bills itself as “the world’s largest online therapy platform.” The company has served over 2.5 million people and pulled $700 million in global revenue last year, according to Behavioral Health Business.

The platform is no stranger to controversy. In 2018, a social media uproar arose over paid collaborations between BetterHelp and various YouTubers.

The professional YouTubers, who shared personal mental health struggles as part of their ads, faced backlash when it was revealed that they were paid for each customer who signed up for BetterHelp through their unique links—sometimes up to $200 per person. Online audiences and psychologists raised concerns that the YouTubers were profiting off their viewers’ mental health issues.

CEO Alon Matas said the allegations “couldn’t be further from the truth” in a statement shared on Medium.

Here, a man looking at his computer. The online therapy platform BetterHelp has come under fire on social media as patients describe problematic experiences with their therapists.
Karen Hatch / Contributor/Moment Mobile ED

BetterHelp has also been criticized for sharing data with Facebook, according to a Consumer Reports investigation, although Matas said that Facebook uses data from other apps “on an aggregated level, not on an individual basis.”

More recently, the platform received negative attention when rapper Travis Scott offered one free month of BetterHelp therapy to survivors of the deadly crush at his AstroWorld festival. The move was criticized as “offensive” and “inadequate.”

Now, a TikTok trend has triggered a renewed firestorm over allegedly problematic providers.

On November 7, TikTok user @mojojojokes posed the question, “How many years do you think it’s going to be before we see a true crime documentary about Better Help?”

“I say four,” she proposed, adding the hashtag, #betterhelptherapyisascam.

Her video reached over 617,000 views and opened a floodgate to frustrated BetterHelp patients.

In a series of viral responses, patients described experiences that ranged from unprofessional and uncomfortable to overtly triggering.

“I tried BetterHelp twice, I actually got a refund from them,” said TikToker @oh_thats_lauren in a video with 1.5 million views. “My therapist was 10 minutes late to our 10-minute meeting, our first initial meeting.”

The patient said she shared a story that was “traumatic” for her, but the therapist failed to focus on her experience—and then repeatedly attempted to market her own book.

The TikToker said she tried again, but her second therapist completely missed two scheduled meetings. After the second time, he allegedly texted an apology and said he was at his “other job.”

TikTok user Adrianna Ford said she met with a BetterHelp therapist for three weeks before realizing that her privacy was compromised.

“As I log onto the video, she’s talking to someone and then just stops talking, is like ‘Hey how are you, so let’s get started,'” Ford said in a clip with 115,000 views. “I’m like, ‘Someone is in there.'”

Halfway through the meeting, the patient said her therapist walked into a public office lounge, made popcorn and started eating while Ford was talking.

Yet another patient, Emeline O’Hara, issued a warning to her viewers in a video seen over 3 million times.

“Do not trust the BetterHelp therapists. They are so sketch,” said O’Hara. “My one session with a BetterHelp therapist retraumatized me to the point where I don’t know if I’ll ever go back to therapy again.”

O’Hara alleged the therapist was confused by her diagnosis of CTPSD (complex post-traumatic stress disorder), seemingly not understanding what the term meant, and expected the patient to describe the differences between CTPSD and PTSD.

“Kinda something I would hope a trauma-informed mental health professional would know,” said O’Hara.

An influencer, who runs a TikTok account called “The Wellness Diaries” focused on her eating disorder recovery, said her condition was worsened by a BetterHelp therapist who congratulated her on “all that weight loss.”

“Deleted the chat, deleted the app and never advocated for myself again,” said the TikToker.

Newsweek reached out to BetterHelp for comment.

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