woman looking at laptop
Stocksy/Clique Images

Between video conferencing for work and staying connected over the phone with friends and family, it can be easy to fall into remote communication fatigue. 

Still, making mental health a priority is more important than ever. Therapy shouldn’t feel like another box to tick or teleconference to schedule. 

Talkspace is an online text and video chat therapy platform that offers access to therapists who cover a broad range of mental health services

Keep reading to learn how Talkspace works, how effective the service is, and whether it’s a good fit for you and your lifestyle.

We tried Talkspace

Christy Snyder, wellness editor at Healthline, used this service to discuss situational stress and anxieties. She found the signup process to be easy and fast and felt that she was asked appropriate, pointed questions about her mental health history and current status. Her assigned therapist got in touch quickly and was helpful in discussing her situation.

In addition, Christy felt that Talkspace:

  • Was “pretty pricey, even compared to using mental health services with insurance.”
  • Gives “scheduling freedom.” She says it’s “great that you can have weekly sessions or daily messaging for when a deeper level of support is needed.”

Overall, Christy felt that she:

  • “Liked the flexibility of Talkspace, but I think because I am so used to a more traditional model, some of the features were not to my liking — but could certainly work for others.”
  • Would recommend the service. “There are multiple options for communicating with your therapist. All of which work for different lifestyles/personality types in terms of face-to-face vs. messaging. My only real issue is the cost.”

What is Talkspace?

Talkspace was founded in 2012 with the goal of making mental health services more accessible for everyone. It was one of the first companies to provide online therapy.

Talkspace has grown to become one of the most well-known online services, with celebrities like Michael Phelps and Demi Lovato acting as Talkspace mental health spokespersons.

Virtual services like those offered by Talkspace may provide a more comfortable environment for some people to get help with their mental health.

Talkspace offers multiple payment plans to cater to different budgets and mental health needs. You can live chat through messaging or schedule a video chat with your therapist.

Through the text-based services, you can reach out to your therapist regardless of the time of day or your location and receive feedback at your therapist’s earliest convenience.

According to Talkspace, the service has helped users manage a number of mental health conditions including anxiety, addiction, and depression.

Additionally, you can use Talkspace to help with stress management, relationship dynamics, and issues affecting the LGBTQIA+ community.

Talkspace has continued to expand its services since the company was founded and now offers couples therapy, online psychiatric evaluation, and medication management.

Pros and cons of Talkspace

Although Talkspace offers great features and a unique set of advantages, it can be hard to decide if this service is right for you. 

Here’s a look at some pros and cons of Talkspace.

Benefits of Talkspace

  • You have constant access. You can share your thoughts with your therapist any time during the day, no matter where you are, and your therapist will respond at their earliest convenience. Certain plans also allow you to schedule live chats with your therapist for more immediate communication. According to Christy, this is great for “newbies to therapy and those who would like support that’s available daily/frequently.”
  • Plans are flexible. Plans start at $79 per week for monthly live sessions and round-the-clock text messages. Talkspace is also covered by some insurance plans. The service is contract-free, so you can cancel at any time.
  • Text therapy may offer more comfort. It can help ease the stigma of caring for your mental health. It also may allow for more transparency and vulnerability between you and your therapist.
  • Talkspace is flexible. Christy says that with Talkspace, “you do have scheduling freedom … it is great that you can have weekly sessions or daily messaging for when a deeper level of support is needed.”
  • There’s no need to commute. Unlike face-to-face therapy, you can chat with your therapist from the comfort of your home using the Talkspace mobile app or your computer. This is especially helpful for people who may not be able to attend an in-person visit, such as those with physical limitations who may have a harder time traveling.
  • Talkspace offers couples therapy. This gives both you and your partner ongoing text message support from your therapist, as well as the ability to schedule live sessions.
  • Talkspace offers a psychiatry service. Talkspace Psychiatry offers services staffed by psychiatrists and nurse practitioners for those seeking both mental health care and prescription management.

Drawbacks of Talkspace

  • Text therapy may not always be practical. Although Talkspace says 80 percent of its users found the tool to be as effective as traditional therapy, text therapy may not be suitable for every person. It’s important to understand your preferences and lifestyle choices and research what methods may work best for you.
  • Talkspace does not offer group counseling. While Talkspace does offer couples counseling, the service is not available for groups or families seeking therapy together.
  • The live sessions are only 30 minutes. Compared with other in-person and online therapy services, a 30-minute session may feel short and like not enough time to thoroughly cover all of your concerns.
  • Talkspace can feel impersonal. Christy mentions, “I got a lot of automated/copy and pasted messages from [the counselor] that I presumed she may have sent to all of her clients … Those messages were frequent and made me feel a little bit like a number rather than her patient. But, I understand if you are serving a large client/patient base that you may have to communicate in a way that is less personal.”
  • Talkspace has age restrictions. Talkspace is not meant to be used by children, though with parental consent, Talkspace does provide counseling to teens ages 13 to 17 years.
  • There’s no sliding scale. While some insurance plans and employee assistance plans may cover Talkspace services, there is no sliding scale or financial aid available through Talkspace.
  • Talkspace is not for everyone. Talkspace does not offer legal documentation for court-ordered therapy or disability programs. This may mean Talkspace is not the best option if your school or employer has requested that you receive counseling.
  • Talkspace may be pricey. Christy points out, “$69 a week to message a therapist isn’t a lot, but the cost can be up to $165 a week if not more. In using traditional/in-person mental health services with my insurance, I have paid anywhere from $50 to $185 per therapy session.”
Keep in mind

Talkspace is not a substitute for emergency services. In the event of a mental health emergency — like if you’re thinking about harming yourself or someone else — call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255 or your local emergency services.

How we researched Talkspace

We consider many factors when reviewing services like Talkspace, including:

  • criteria for mental health professionals working with the platform
  • a simple sign-up process and ease of use
  • customer feedback and company reputation
  • pricing and subscription options
  • insurance and payment plans

Who is Talkspace for?

Talkspace features thousands of licensed therapists. Many are trained across multiple areas of expertise. According to Talkspace, the service has helped people with:

Who is Talkspace not for?

Insurance and pricing

Talkspace offers a variety of subscription plans to cater to different budgets and health needs. Some insurance plans may cover the services. You can take the online assessment to help determine your eligibility. 

Talkspace also accepts some employee assistance programs and other plans. There are no contracts, so you can cancel your plan at any time.

The three levels for individual subscriptions plan include:

  • Unlimited messaging therapy plus: $276 a month
    • Unlimited text, video, and audio messaging 5 days a week
  • Unlimited messaging therapy premium: $316 a month
    • Unlimited text, video, and audio messaging 5 days a week
    • One live 30-minute session a month
  • Unlimited messaging therapy ultimate: $396 a month
    • Unlimited text, video, and audio messaging 5 days a week
    • Four live 30-minute sessions a month

The couples therapy plan includes four 30-minute video sessions each month plus unlimited text, video, and audio messaging in a group room with your partner and therapist.

Psychiatry services are offered as an add-on plan and cost $199 for the initial psychiatric evaluation and $125 for follow-up visits.

Does Talkspace offer a free trial?

Talkspace currently doesn’t offer a free trial. However, a free consultation is available with a matching agent to discuss how Talkspace works and the matching process.

Can you switch your Talkspace subscription?

At any time, you can change to a new subscription level or pause your plan. Changes are effective immediately. During the next billing cycle, your account will be credited if you downgrade your plan, or the difference will be charged if you upgrade your plan.

Does Talkspace offer discounts?

Talkspace frequently offers discounts for your first month of service. The discounts are often posted on the homepage for your convenience. Discounts range from around $80 to $200 off.

At the time of writing, Talkspace is currently offering $100 off your first month with the code “SPACE.”

How does Talkspace work? 

Talkspace offers an easy-to-use website and app. To register for Talkspace, you’ll be asked to complete a questionnaire and then move through a short matching process to connect you with an appropriate therapist.

Sign-up process

To sign up, go to Talkspace’s website or register in the mental health app. On the website, you’ll click on the buttons for the type of service you’re interested in, while in the app, you simply hit get started.

When you sign up for Talkspace, you’ll be asked to complete a questionnaire that focuses on you and your life, goals, and preferences. 

After you’ve completed the survey, a matching agent helps connect you with the best therapist for you. The agent uses a scripted questionnaire to ensure you’re matched with a therapist that fits your exact needs.

The agent uses scripts to help keep the process smooth and easier. Scripted responses may be used to answer basic questions many people have about the Talkspace platform and process. The responses are used to describe services and provide information about a therapist’s background when you’re selecting a therapist.

Talkspace room

After you’ve chosen your therapist, a secure virtual therapy room is created. You can access your Talkspace room on your preferred web browser or Talkspace’s mobile app.

You can begin and pick up conversations from whichever device you choose. Talkspace is compatible with iPhones, iPads, and Android devices. 

In your Talkspace room, you can send and reply to messages from your therapist 24/7. You can expect responses five times a week, as your therapist can view and respond to you throughout the day. 

You may have to wait for a reply, however. For example, if you send a message during the middle of the night, you may not hear back until the next day.

So, it’s best to think of Talkspace’s texting feature as a platform with the ability to communicate 24/7, but not a platform where you receive 24/7 therapy.  

Other features

If you want to add a face-to-face experience through this text therapy platform, Talkspace also offers live video sessions.

You’ll also be able to view in advance what a standard therapy journey looks like through checkpoints, milestones, and progress reports, and you’ll also have opportunities to tweak your plan.

If something’s not working for you, you can switch therapists or stop therapy whenever you want.

Talkspace’s sign-up platform features several short how-to videos to help you navigate the service. 

The therapists of Talkspace

After you’ve completed the intake form, much like a matchmaking service for dating, several options will be presented to you.

You’ll choose from a number of licensed, accredited, and experienced therapists. If you find that none of your matches fit your needs, you can always ask for more. Additionally, if you begin working with a therapist and feel that they are not a good match, you can easily request to be matched with a new one.

When choosing a therapist, you will be able to view their profile, which will give you information on their professional experience. Their profile will show you the therapist’s photo, availability, time zone, and professional license number. You can also see their therapeutic approaches, specializations, how long they’ve been practicing, and how long they’ve been with Talkspace.

Some responses from therapists to general or frequently asked questions may be scripted, but your therapist will also respond to your individual and specific needs. Scripted responses can help make the process smoother, as they help provide quick answers to your questions.

Therapist qualifications

Talkspace professionals are licensed and credentialed psychiatrists and therapists who offer both individual and couples therapy services. The company verifies the professionals’ credentials and completes a background check before hiring.

Professionals are required to have 3,000-plus hours of clinical experience in their area of expertise. They may have additional training to specialize in certain therapy approaches.

Therapist focus areas and techniques

Talkspace employs a wide range of therapists that specialize in various therapeutic approaches and focus areas. The initial sign-up questionnaire will help match you with a therapist that suits your needs and has experience addressing your specific mental health concerns.

Popular types of therapy offered may include:

You can also find therapists who have experience with a specific focus area or mental health concern, including:

  • anxiety
  • depression
  • disordered eating
  • family or relationship issues

Psychiatry

Talkspace also offers a psychiatry service for people interested in both mental health care and prescription management. The program is staffed by psychiatrists and nurse practitioners.

While Talkspace Psychiatry offers useful services, it’s worth noting that the psychiatry professionals are unable to prescribe controlled substances, including:

The professionals are also unable to prescribe lithium.

Talkspace Psychiatry does require an initial evaluation fee of $199, with follow-up visits priced at $125 each.

Other features

In addition to chatting online with a therapist, here’s what else you can do through Talkspace:

  • track clinical symptoms through an online symptom tracker
  • explore the Happify interface, a science-based app that promotes happiness
  • locate resources for work-life planning, financial wellness, and legal advice through Talkspace’s employee assistance programs

Is Talkspace effective? 

There’s not a large or conclusive body of research that has established the clinical benefit of text therapy, but some people may still find it helpful

Some research suggests that online therapy, in general, is about as effective as in-person therapy. It’s important to note that these studies have typically focused on online therapy delivered via videoconferencing, not via a texting service like Talkspace.

A small 2014 study found that participants with depression who were randomly placed into online therapy were still faring well 3 months after therapy ended, while participants who were randomly placed into face-to-face therapy reported worsening symptoms after therapy ended. 

A 2015 review of 11 studies reported that computer-based cognitive behavioral therapy sessions were successful at reducing both depression and anxiety symptoms.

Privacy and reputation

Talkspace is Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) compliant.

Talkspace says all communication between the software and the servers, including chat data, is encrypted. The Talkspace app also requires you to enter a password and lets you create a unique password for added security. However, you’re unable to delete chat transcripts, as they’re considered medical records. 

Talkspace’s privacy policy does outline that “non-identifying and aggregate information” may be used for research, trend analysis, and website design. 

It’s worth pointing out recent concerns from former Talkspace employees, who have made claims detailing unethical marketing practices and data privacy violations from the company, including:

  • manipulating reviews
  • advertising services in a way intended to trigger consumers into using the service
  • using user data and medical records to develop marketing and advertising strategies

However, none of these allegations have been proven. 

Customer reviews

Overall customer satisfaction with Talkspace varies greatly. The company currently has a B rating from the Better Business Bureau, with 395 complaints closed in the last 3 years, at the time of this writing.

Trustpilot currently gives the company 1.3 stars out of 5.

Most complaints have to do with billing issues, requests for refunds, and dissatisfaction with the rate of therapists’ reply.

A couple of reviewers say they liked their therapy but did not like the company, citing that contacting customer service is “a nightmare” and takes them a week to several weeks to respond.

Is Talkspace right for you? 

While text therapy can be helpful, Talkspace isn’t a perfect fit for everyone.

If you need emergency help, a text therapy platform isn’t the best choice.

Keeping this limitation in mind, deciding whether text therapy is right for you will largely come down to your lifestyle and preferences. 

Without the face-to-face experience that comes with traditional therapy, it’s possible to miss out on affirmation and comfort from things like eye contact and a warm smile. Still, some people may prefer the privacy of talking through text rather than face-to-face.

Here are some of the topics and conditions Talkspace may help:

Talkspace’s 24/7 access may be a key benefit for those wanting something convenient and flexible. A chat room on your preferred device can help keep your calendar clear and save you time on commuting.  

How to get started

It’s easy to get started with Talkspace. Here’s a step-by-step guide to get you on your way:

  1. Head to the Talkspace website and click on “Get Started” in the top-right corner.
  2. Choose the type of therapy you need: online therapy, psychiatry, or couples therapy.
  3. Follow the prompts and answer the assessment questions. You’ll be asked about why you’re looking for therapy and how you’re feeling, among other things.

You can chat with an initial consultation therapist to help you with the process and get you matched with the right mental health care professional. Within about 48 hours, you’ll get information on your personalized match and what the next steps look like.

Talkspace vs. competitors

Talkspace vs. BetterHelp

Services offeredPricingPrivacy
Talkspace• couples therapy
• individual therapy
• teen counseling
• sleep therapy
• psychiatry services
• medication management
plans from $276 a month• HIPAA compliant
• all communication between the software and the servers is encrypted
• app requires a password
• can’t delete chat transcripts because they’re considered to be medical records
BetterHelp• individual therapy for adults
• teen therapy
• couples therapy
from $60–$90 per week• everything you share is confidential
• can click the “Shred” button next to each message you’ve sent so it won’t appear in your account
• all messages between you and your therapist are secured and encrypted by banking-grade 256-bit encryption

Both Talkspace and BetterHelp are companies that provide online therapy services. They both offer monthly subscription services and virtual communication with a licensed therapist.

BetterHelp focuses solely on talk therapy for individuals. For couples counseling or therapy for teens, BetterHelp directs people to sister sites Regain.us and TeenCounseling.com. Talkspace offers a wider range of services on one platform, including:

  • couples therapy
  • individual therapy
  • teen counseling
  • sleep therapy
  • psychiatry services
  • medication management

Both platforms have similar pricing plans, starting at around $65 a week. However, Talkspace may have better payment assistance, as it tends to be accepted by more insurance companies, employee assistance programs, and other organizations.

Talkspace vs. Cerebral

Services offeredPricingPrivacy
Talkspace• couples therapy
• individual therapy
• teen counseling
• sleep therapy
• psychiatry services
• medication management
plans from $276 a month• HIPAA compliant
• all communication between the software and the servers is encrypted
• app requires a password
• can’t delete chat transcripts because they’re considered to be medical records
Cerebralcare and medication management for depression, anxiety, and insomniafrom $85 per month• your information is HIPAA-protected on the website and app
• personal health information may be shared with healthcare professionals and insurers

Like Talkspace, Cerebral is an online mental health tool. It offers both medication management and counseling through ongoing, comprehensive access to online care and medication management for conditions like anxiety, depression, and insomnia. Talkspace, however, treats a wider variety of issues for teens, couples, and individuals.

Cerebral’s services are delivered through medical professionals, care counselors, and licensed therapists for a monthly flat fee of $85 per month or $29 monthly, plus a copay with in-network insurance.

However, unlike Talkspace, although Cerebral’s counselors are trained in therapeutic techniques, not all counselors are licensed therapists. The company’s services are not available in all states.

Talkspace vs. Amwell

Services offeredPricingPrivacy
Talkspace• couples therapy
• individual therapy
• teen counseling
• sleep therapy
• psychiatry services
• medication management
plans from $276 a month• HIPAA compliant
• all communication between the software and the servers is encrypted
• app requires a password
• can’t delete chat transcripts because they’re considered to be medical records
Amwell• mental health therapy
• psychiatry
• urgent care
visits from $109; rate depends on therapist’s credentials (doctoral or master’s level)private, secure, HIPAA-compliant tool

Amwell is another telemedicine company that lets patients and their healthcare professionals connect virtually through video calls. Amwell’s mental health professionals include licensed therapists, psychologists, and counselors.

Compared with Talkspace, Amwell offers a broader range of health services. This includes mental health therapy, psychiatry, and general health services for urgent care needs (like treatment for UTIs, acne, bug bites, pink eye, sinus infections, and more).

Also like Talkspace, some insurance companies and employers will cover some or all of Amwell’s fees.

Amwell also allows you to choose board-certified doctors based on their experience and ratings before booking an appointment.

Frequently asked questions

Does Talkspace take insurance?

Some insurance plans may cover Talkspace’s services. The company’s online assessment can help determine your eligibility. You can also contact your insurance provider to find out whether it covers teletherapy.

Does Talkspace offer a free trial?

Talkspace doesn’t offer a free trial. However, you can get a free consultation with an agent to go over the service and matching process.

Does Talkspace have psychiatrists?

Through Talkspace Psychiatry, you can access services from psychiatrists and nurse practitioners for mental health care and prescription management.

Does Talkspace offer discounts?

You can often get discounts on Talkspace for your first month with the platform. Discounts are typically posted on the homepage and range from about $80 to $200 off.

How can I be certain that Talkspace is right for me?

The best way to be certain that Talkspace is right for you is to give it a try. Talkspace offers a variety of plans that may suit your needs.

Plans start at $79 per week for monthly live sessions and round-the-clock text messages. Talkspace is also covered by some insurance plans.

The service is also contract-free, so you can cancel at any time if you try it and decide it isn’t for you.

How do I know Talkspace is confidential?

Talkspace is HIPAA compliant.

According to Talkspace, all communication between the software and the servers, including chat data, is encrypted. However, you’re unable to delete chat transcripts because they’re considered to be medical records. 

Talkspace’s privacy policy does outline that “non-identifying and aggregate information” may be used for research, trend analysis, and website design. 

Takeaway

There are some key pros and cons to consider with Talkspace. 

Although the research on online text therapy is limited, it may be a good option if you’re looking for convenient, cost-effective therapy from home but would rather skip the webcam or telephone. And with Talkspace’s flexible plan options, you can choose to add on live sessions on a monthly or weekly basis.

If you’re in immediate danger or need emergency mental health services, call someone you trust, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, or your local emergency services instead of relying on a service like Talkspace.