Pride Counseling

Warning: *privacy not included with this product

Pride Counseling

BetterHelp
Wi-Fi

Review date: April 20, 2022

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Mozilla says

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People voted: Super creepy

Pride Counseling, owned by BetterHelp (see our review of BetterHelp), provides therapy services targeted at members of the LGBTQ+ community. Costs for the Pride Counseling service run around $60 - $90 per week depending on your location (some locations might be higher) and Wirecutter noted in 2021 they "found some of the company’s practices to be predatory." Users will then be matched with a therapist Pride Counseling says are licensed and have some experience with the LGBTQ+ community, although there is no way to guarantee your therapist will be LGBTQ themselves. Conversations with therapists can happen in a number of ways -- text messages, live chats, phone conversations, or video calls.

So, how does Pride Counseling look from a privacy and security perspective? Unfortunately, not great. Which is not at all what you want to see from an online therapy service targeted at the vulnerable LGBTQ+ community.

What could happen if something goes wrong?

Owned by BettherHelp, Pride Counseling brings all the privacy concerns we had with that app to this LGBTQI+ focused therapy app. They're privacy policies are identical, so everything we were worried about with BetterHelp applies here with Pride Counseling, except Pride Counseling is targeted at a vulnerable community, which makes our privacy concerns carry even more weight.

Where to start? First, we here at *Privacy Not Included read privacy policies for a living. We've seen many and have a sense for what makes a good privacy policy and what worries us in privacy policies. We found Pride Counseling's privacy policy short and missing information we wanted to see made clear. Pride Counseling doesn’t specifically state in their privacy policy that they don’t sell user data, which is something we like to see stated clearly. Also, their short privacy policy doesn't mention important information like if and how they collect location data, how long they retain users' data, and how users can access or delete this data. This is another big flag for us. Pride Counseling also uses the word "may" a whole lot in their short privacy policy, which as someone who reads privacy policies can tell you, usually means they want to give themselves a lot of wiggle room in how they use your personal information. So many red flags so far.

But wait, there's more! Pride Counseling does collect a whole lot of personal information, from the responses to their intake questionnaire (like are you feeling depressed or anxious or are you struggling to maintain relationships), to things like name, age, email address, and phone number. They also say they can use data they collect on you for personalization, product offerings relevant to your individual interests, and targeted ads. And they say they can share some data with a number of third parties including advertisers (boo!), and with any subsidiaries or parent companies within their corporate group (which includes Better Help, Teen Counseling, and Faith Counseling). Remember, every time your data is shared, the potential for data leaks or breaches grows.

And according to this 2020 article by Jezebel, BetterHelp/Pride Counseling shares metadata from every message, though not its contents, with Facebook. This means that Facebook could know what time of day a user was going to therapy, their approximate location, and how long they were chatting on the app. Yup, red flag.

Is there more that worries us? Why, yes, there is. Pride Counseling says they collect, use, and store communications between users and counselors on their platform. They do say they encrypt messages between you and your therapist on the platform, which is good. We were unable to confirm if Pride Counseling has a system in place to manage security vulnerabilities on their app, which raises a flag for us about their overall security practices. We emailed their listed privacy contact to ask some questions about Pride Counseling's privacy practices and received no response to our questions, so we're not sure if users can expect a timely response from that listed contact.

Pride Counseling's parent company BetterHelp operates a number of popular mental health platform right now in 2022. They are pouring millions of dollars into advertising to grow their user base. They have anumber of concerning privacy and security practices that we and others have reported like sending data to Facebook and sharing data widely with third parties. What's the worst that could happen? Unfortunately, we're afraid a lot could go wrong based on what we learned in our research. Which is incredibly worrisome for a service targeted a the vulnerable LGBTQ+ community. That's why we've currently labeled this product *Privacy Not Included.

Tips to protect yourself

  • Do NOT connect the app to your Facebook, Google, or other social media accounts or third-party tools, and do not share medical data when connected to those account.
  • Click the "Shred" button next to each message you've sent if you want it to no longer show in your account.
mobile Privacy warning Security warning A.I.

Can it snoop on me? information

Camera

Device: N/A

App: Yes

Microphone

Device: N/A

App: Yes

Tracks location

Device: N/A

App: No

What can be used to sign up?

What data does the company collect?

How does the company use this data?

We could not determine if Pride Counseling does or does not sell users' personal information.

Pride Counseling collects, uses, and stores communications between users and counselors on the Platform, and communications between users and Pride Counseling's customer service team.

Pride Counseling may use the information they collect for one or more of the following purposes: To personalize the website experience and to deliver content and product and service offerings relevant to individual interests, including targeted offers and ads through our websites, and via email.
Any other purpose with your consent.

Purposes for Which Information is Disclosed to Third Parties
With affiliates within our corporate group: We may share your information with any subsidiaries or parent companies within our corporate group.
For advertising: Due to the use of cookies and web beacons, information regarding your activity on our websites, excluding activity when you are logged in and have started therapy, may be disclosed to our advertising partners to optimize marketing. We do not share with any advertising platform private information like member names, email addresses, phone numbers, diagnosis, sessions data, journal entries, messages, worksheets, or any other type of communication you have with your therapist

Pride Counseling may share your information with third parties with your consent. Betterhelp does not share with any advertising platform private information like member names, email addresses, phone numbers, diagnosis, sessions data, journal entries, messages, worksheets, or any other type of communication you have with your therapist.

Due to the use of cookies and web beacons, information regarding your activity on their websites, excluding activity when you are logged in and have started therapy, may be disclosed to advertising partners to optimize marketing.

Pride Counseling use several publicly-available tools and information exchange resources, such as a blog, a Facebook page, a Twitter account, and others. Any information you provide or share while using these tools may be read, accessed, collected by that site and users of that site according to their Privacy Policy.

According to the 2020 article by Jezebel, Pride Counseling's parent company BetterHelp shares metadata from every message, though not its contents, with Facebook. It means that Facebook knew what time of day a user was going to therapy, their approximate location, and how long they were chatting on the app.

How can you control your data?

No data retention details are mentioned. Data deletion policies and other rights of users are mentioned only for European Economic Area residents.

What is the company’s known track record of protecting users’ data?

Average

In 2021, the Economist shared the report of one user that "When I first joined BetterHelp, I started to see targeted ads with words that I had used on the app to describe my personal experiences.”

In October 2018, BetterHelp gained attention from media personalities after concerns were raised about alleged use of unfair pricing, bad experiences with the app, paid reviews from actors, and terms of service that allegedly did not correspond with ads promoted by professional YouTubers.

Child Privacy Information

Children and preteens (under 13) will not be able to sign up for BetterHelp and may be best served by in-person therapy or counseling.

Can this product be used offline?

No

User-friendly privacy information?

No

Links to privacy information

Does this product meet our Minimum Security Standards? information

Unknown

Encryption

Yes

All the messages between you and your therapist are encrypted by 256-bit encryption. Pride Counselling's databases are encrypted and scrambled so they essentially become useless in the unlikely event that they are stolen or inappropriately used.

Strong password

Yes

Security updates

Yes

Manages vulnerabilities

Can’t Determine

Privacy policy

Yes

Does the product use AI? information

Can’t Determine

Is this AI untrustworthy?

Can’t Determine

What kind of decisions does the AI make about you or for you?

Is the company transparent about how the AI works?

Can’t Determine

Does the user have control over the AI features?

Can’t Determine


News

The Spooky, Loosely Regulated World of Online Therapy
Jezebel
Starting treatment with Better Help, one of the most prominent “therapy-on-demand” apps to launch over the last few years, is easy, which is more or less the point. Like many of the businesses offering therapy online, the service promotes itself as a seamless way to access mental health services: “Message your therapist anytime, from anywhere.” In order to understand how Better Help handles its users’ data, we signed up for the service and monitored what kinds of information it was collecting and sending elsewhere.
Pride Counseling review 2022: Everything you need to know
Medical News Today
Pride Counseling is an online therapy service featuring therapists who specialize in working with the LGBTQIA+ community. This service aims to provide a safe and affordable place for those in the LGBTQIA+ community to discuss identity and mental health.
Pride Counseling Online Therapy Review
ConsumersAdvocate.org
Pride Counseling is a subsidiary of the BetterHelp online counseling platform. It provides professional counseling services to members of the LGBTQ+ community. The company is headquartered in Sunnyvale, California, but its licensed therapists are located across the country.
The Online Therapy Services We’d Use
Wirecutter
It’s so tricky being a person, and therapy can help. When you can’t access a therapist in person, video appointments can be as effective. Online therapy services may even make the process of finding someone to speak with easier by expanding the number of licensed mental health professionals you can pick from, eliminating the need to go to a physical location for an appointment, and perhaps even reducing your out-of-pocket costs. After putting in more than 75 hours of research over three years and trying appointments on six platforms, we recommend starting your search for an online therapist with Amwell.
Pride Counseling: Reviews, Cost, and Services
Everyday Health
Launched in 2017, Pride Counseling is a subsidiary of BetterHelp, a long-established online therapy platform. The therapists and counselors have expertise working with members of the LGBTQ+ community on the mental health issues they face.
Pride Counseling Review: Should you try this online LGBTQ+ counseling?
Innerbody Research
Is Pride Counseling a safe and valuable service for LGBTQ+ clients? Are their counselors well qualified? We thoroughly tested their therapy services and will share everything we learned about cost, quality, privacy, and more so that you can decide if they’re right for you.
Pride Counseling Review
E-Counseling.com
It’s no secret that the LGBTQ community has been stigmatized as having higher rates of mental health issues. What many people don’t understand is what it’s like to experience disapproving glances and contemptuous remarks (and that’s on a good day), oftentimes from complete strangers. It’s no wonder that LGBTQ youth are four times as likely to commit suicide than heterosexuals. So if you’re part of the LGBTQ community and are looking for mental health assistance, you’ve come to the right place. Pride Counseling understood the issues at hand, both from a psychological and financial standpoint. As such, they created a platform specifically for the LGBTQ community – a place where you can receive professional therapy sessions at a very affordable rate.
What Is Video Therapy? Plus 15 Best Services for 2022
Healthline
Multiple studies have found video therapy to have the same effect as face-to-face therapy sessions. There are plenty of options out there, whether you’re looking for a low cost video therapy platform or one that can offer free therapy.
Pride Counseling Online Therapy Review
ConsumersAdvocate.org
Pride Counseling is a subsidiary of the BetterHelp online counseling platform. It provides professional counseling services to members of the LGBTQ+ community. The company is headquartered in Sunnyvale, California, but its licensed therapists are located across the country.
The 7 Best Online Couples and Relationship Therapy Services for 2022
Psych Central
Our picks for the top seven online relationship therapy services can help you get started improving your partnership — at home.
Adverts for LGBT mental health service ‘crass and exploitative’
PinkNews
Pride Counseling, a subsidiary of online therapy site, Better Help, offers private counselling with licensed therapists for LGBT people suffering from mental health problems. The California-based service predominately advertises itself on Facebook and Instagram. It offers unlimited online therapy via messenger and video calls for a subscription fee of $35-$70 (£25-£50) a week. However, several targeted by the ads have taken issue with the company’s marketing, which they have called offensive, misleading or invasive. Others have labelled them as “exploitative” and “scam-ish”.

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