Jeff Guenther, the therapist behind the TikTok account @therapyden, posted a viral video breaking down why he thinks online therapy service provider BetterHelp shortchanges its professional therapists and clients. The video has amassed over 298,000 views and 55,000 likes since being posted on Sept. 12.
“Hi, I’m a therapist who is connected to thousands of other therapists around the country, most of us don’t like what BetterHelp is doing to our industry,” Guenther opens.
He goes on to claim that BetterHelp sells mental health information to third parties like Facebook and that they underpay therapists. The TikToker says BetterHelp therapists receive around $30 an hour while a typical hourly rate is around $100. He also explains that BetterHelp pays therapists using a set word count in their text service, which puts therapists in a difficult situation when hitting the word limit: give clients free services or stop replying. Either choice can result in resentment between clients and therapists, he says.
While Guenther supports making mental health care more accessible, he notes that “this is not how we’ve been trained and we don’t think this is a healthy therapeutic relationship.”
“We don’t think you should have 24-hour access to a therapist,” Guenther explains. “That’s going to create an expectation for you that we should always be there. That’s not going to create self-reliance.”
BetterHelp’s TikTok account responded to the Guenther’s video with a chain of comments defending their practices.
“Also, more than 90% of our therapists earn more than $30/hour,” says BetterHelp in another comment.
Some of the over 52,000 comments point out the company’s responses don’t thoroughly address their pay rate or the word count limit for texting therapists.
“No therapist should be earning even close to $30 an hour, so the fact that around 10% of your therapists are is the real problem,” says @jewishofficial.
“y’all didn’t address the word count,” says @miamia.
In response to BetterHelp’s comments, Guenther made two follow-up videos on Wednesday addressing their “corrections.”
In another, Guenther shows viewers the wide-ranging pay scale that BetterHelp therapists have, which he indicates varies wildly from what therapists are typically paid. At the low-end of the scale, 15 hours of work per week, which Guenther says is a typical full-time caseload, can earn a BetterHelp contractor around $27,000 annually. In the same video, he calls out the company for failing to address the text therapy pay.
Daily Dot reached out to @therapyden and BetterHelp for comment.
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