Between video conferencing for work and staying safely 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, and therapy shouldn’t feel like another box to tick or teleconference to schedule.
Keep reading to learn how it works, how effective it is, and whether it’s a good fit for you and your lifestyle.
When you sign up for Talkspace, you’ll be asked to complete a questionnaire that focuses on you and your life, goals, and preferences.
The intake process involves a licensed therapist who acts as a matching agent, finding the best therapist for you. During the intake process, the responses may occasionally be scripted.
After you’ve completed intake, 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.
Talkspace providers are licensed, verified, and background-checked. Providers are required to have 3,000-plus hours of clinical experience and may have additional training to specialize in certain therapy approaches.
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 is able to 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 as a platform with the ability to communicate 24-7, but not a platform where you receive 24-7 therapy.
If you want to add a face-to-face experience through this online 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 measures like checkpoints, milestones, and progress reports, and 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.
Talkspace features thousands of licensed therapists, with many trained across multiple areas of expertise. Talkspace says they’ve helped people with:
- eating disorders
- post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- LGBT issues
- relationships with family or friends
Talkspace also offers a psychiatry service for those interested in both mental healthcare and prescription management. The program is staffed by both psychiatrists and nurse practitioners.
While Talkspace Psychiatry offers useful services, it’s worth noting that the psychiatry providers are unable to prescribe controlled substances including:
The providers are also unable to prescribe lithium.
Talkspace Psychiatry does require an initial evaluation fee of $199, with follow-up visits priced at $125 each.
In addition to chatting online with your 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.
Keep in mind
Talkspace is not a substitute for emergency services. In the event of a mental health emergency — if you’re thinking about harming yourself or someone else — call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255.
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.
In 2015, a review of 11 studies reported that computer-based cognitive behavioral therapy sessions were successful at lowering both depression and anxiety symptoms.
Talkspace states that it’s Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA)-compliant.
It says that 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. You are unable, however, to delete chat transcripts, as they’re considered medical records.
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 has been proven.
Talkspace is covered by some insurance companies. Taking Talkspace’s online assessment can determine your eligibility.
Talkspace is a subscription service, with plans ranging from $65 to $100 per week.
There are no contracts, so you can cancel your plan at any time.
While online therapy can be helpful, it’s not a perfect fit for everyone.
If you need emergency help, an online therapy platform isn’t the best choice.
It’s also not meant to offer services to children, though with parental consent, Talkspace does provide counseling to teens ages 13 to 18.
Talkspace doesn’t offer legal documentation for court-ordered therapy or disability programs. This may mean Talkspace isn’t the best option if you’ve been asked by your school or employer to get counseling.
Keeping these limits in mind, deciding if online therapy is right for you will largely come down to your lifestyle and personal preference.
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.
But 24-7 access is a key benefit for those who want something convenient and flexible. A chat room on your preferred device can help keep your calendar clear and saves you time commuting as well.
There are some key pros and cons to consider with online therapy.
Although the research on online therapy is limited, it is a good option if you’re looking for convenient, cost-effective therapy from home, but would rather skip the webcam or telephone.
Talkspace shouldn’t be used if you’re in immediate danger or need critical mental health services.