Last Updated on September 4th, 2018
If you were to compare all of the leading online counseling services on the market right now, you would automatically assume that TalkSpace is a prime destination for people looking to live better, happier lives. This is no surprise being that TalkSpace has been mentioned in the media more than any other online therapy service, including their largest rival, BetterHelp. CNN, The Wall Street Journal, Fox News, Mashable, Yahoo!, The Verge, Business Insider, The Huffington Post – this is just a short list of media coverage TalkSpace has received. Is it because they have raised close to $30 million in funding? Is it because they are excellent at branding their service? Or is it really because they have an all-around terrific service? Let’s take an in-depth look at the TalkSpace service.
While TalkSpace doesn’t reveal figures, back in June 2016, TechCrunch noted that over 300,000 people use TalkSpace as their online therapy solution. That certainly puts them in the big leagues, and likely in the top 2 spots. So, what makes them so special? Oren Frank, the CEO of TalkSpace, along with his wife Roni, founded TalkSpace back in 2012 when Mr. Frank was in need of therapy. He noticed a huge issue: the entire mental healthcare system is broken. And while the people who work in this field may have good intentions, Mr. Frank realized they don’t have the tools to fix it. So he and his wife started TalkSpace and, along with an incredible team, steadily built up the company to where it stands now. It also helped that Mr. Frank had a ton of experience in the marketing and publicity fields, as he was a blogger in the past for The Huffington Post.
The very process itself of getting started with therapy can be stressful for many people; adding the technology component to the mix, even for people who are otherwise tech savvy, will just add to this stress. TalkSpace understood this from the start and thus set out to create the most straightforward method for joining their service. When you get to their website, you are greeted by a ‘chat box’ of sorts where you type in your question or comments to a therapist, enter an email address, a password and a nickname. Once you have completed this, you are led to a secured chat room. It is here that you can ask the therapist more questions about online therapy or what you are experiencing. It is important to note that this is just an introductory welcoming to TalkSpace. While you will be chatting with a certified professional, this won’t be your specific counselor. Rather, you will need to answer a few questions from the therapist and pay to use the service, and only then will you be paired with a counselor. However, you can speak with the counselor or ask as many questions as you’d like in this introductory chat room – there is no limit. Additionally, the beauty of TalkSpace is that they use IBM Watson for pairing purposes. IBM Watson is a computer system that uses predictive modeling. Using this system has enabled TalkSpace to see wild success, as the overwhelming majority of the time customers are happy with the therapist they are paired with. If for some reason you are not happy, you can always write in to TalkSpace to request a change.
Usability (Desktop & Mobile):
While TalkSpace delivers a solid online therapy solution, the standout ‘feature’ is certainly its usability. For starters, desktop messaging takes place in the aforementioned chat room. Though the chat room is simplistic and provides good functionality, the TalkSpace mobile app is really what users enjoy. This is because from the beginning, Oren Frank (CEO of TalkSpace) understood the “on the go” nature in today’s world. Thus, his crafty team of developers turned a new technology into a world class platform. The TalkSpace app is available on iOS or Android. When you enter the mobile chat room, it mimics the SMS layout of your smartphone, so there is a familiar feeling with no learning curve whatsoever. You are, of course, able to see prior chat history between you and your counselor. This is helpful because not all of your chats will be in real time. In sum, TalkSpace delivers a chat platform geared toward providing excellent user experience.
Counselor Support & Effectiveness:
TalkSpace paired me with R.J. McNicholl, a LCSW from Illinois. I was disappointed to be matched up with a therapist not located in my area, though I realize that practically it really doesn’t matter where he’s from. R.J. turned out to be great for me as he was insightful and listened to my issues. He provided me with some profound analogies on how to deal with my emotions which, to my honest surprise, shocked me. We’ve all heard the stories about lame, cliche analogies used in therapy sessions, but after speaking with R.J., I must say don’t mock it till you try it!
Additionally, though success can vary, the overall consensus is that online therapy’s effectiveness is top shelf. The main reason is because the sooner you get help, the more effective it is. Scheduling an in-office therapy appointment can take days or weeks. TalkSpace eliminates that wait time since your therapist is always “with you.” Moreover, TalkSpace provides unlimited texting, which means that not every interaction is a transaction. This also helps increase effectiveness because many people view their therapists as professionals doing their job with a focus on money rather than viewing them like people looking to genuinely help the person in need. Since TalkSpace has unlimited text for a fraction of the cost, it’s obviously not about the money; this provides a sense of comfort for people weary of the therapist’s true intentions.
And, for good measure, TalkSpace employs a board of advisors whose job it is to maintain the effectiveness of the service by performing rigorous, periodic testing.
Confidentiality & Privacy:
Like any major company that deals with health records, TalkSpace takes a tight security approach to how they conduct the safekeeping of data. TalkSpace is HIPAA compliant (both their website and mobile app), and they use SSL encryption for protection. Furthermore, TalkSpace enables you to create a unique password for your mobile chat room for an additional layer of security. The only critique some users have is that TalkSpace does not delete your chat history. However, this is because they don’t have access to it (only you and your therapist do), as it’s against federal law.
TalkSpace’s Counselor Qualifications:
All TalkSpace counselors are certified professionals in their respective states and they all hold at least 3,000 hours of hands-on experience. It’s important to mention that not all TalkSpace therapists must be licensed within the United States. Remember, you can always request a change if you don’t like your therapist. Don’t just give up on the service if you aren’t happy with who you were paired with. TalkSpace therapists have all sorts of backgrounds. From PhDs and LMFTs to LPCs and PsyDs (and many more), TalkSpace covers virtually every field in the mental health categories.
Specialties & Areas of Expertise:
As mentioned above, TalkSpace therapists cover every area of mental health. These include, but are not limited to:
- All Addictions
- Chronic Impulsivity
- Educational Assessments
- Life Transitions
- Social Behavior
- Substance Abuse
- Trauma & Abuse
While TalkSpace provides a robust package of features, its main selling points are accessibility and affordability. In addition to this, TalkSpace has done a fantastic job helping people understand the other various benefits to its service: anonymity, stigma free, simplicity and comfort. With unlimited access to top licensed professionals for a mere $32 per week, it’s no wonder over 300,000 people currently use their online therapy service.
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I had no issue with response times from my therapist, but we weren't a good match. I looked into how to change, and apparently you have to work that arrangement with your therapist. Unpleasant, but okay, fine. (I can see how this might be really hard for some people.) He then didn't respond to me for 10 days and then told me to do something that isn't an option in my profile. I emailed support 4 days ago and asked for assistance and I didn't even get a response. I've read bad things about Talkspace as a company, but I tried it anyway but should have looked elsewhere.
I am a veteran living with pretty serious ptsd. as we all know the government doesnt really care about people like me. I have thought about suicide god knows how much. I have spoken to the nspl even more. then I heard about online therapy and Talkspace. people were telling me that its not a solution for my problems. even the therapy websites said if I'm suicidal I should speak to the nspl. but maybe they dont think right?! could it be that my suicidal thoughts were a result of my ptsd? of course that was the reason. if I fix my ptsd I probably fix my issues. also I had nothing to lose. cant afford office therapy no way no how. and my situation couldnt get worse. but i could afford $32 a week so I tried talkspace. it also happens to be that talkspace has a special section on their site for veterans like me. that was what pushed me to join. I am not really technology advanced but I dont need to be with talkspace. i set up a webcam and now I have sessions with my therapist weekly in addition to texting with her. I am far from being okay but I have already seen improvements beyond anything I could have imagined. years of living like this seems impossible to overcome. its not true, you can do it.
I signed up for this company on Friday 6/9/17 and it is now Wednesday. I still have not been matched to a therapist. I was supposed to get 3 to choose from Friday but that did not happen, then Sunday after I filed a complaint, I got two to choose from but neither where what I needed help with so I did not choose any. It was not fast or helpful in any way. I have asked for my money back. I do NOT recommend this site for help.
Talkspace has been the single more important service in my life. Not Amazon. Not Netflix. Talkspace. I work in a hospital making apprx. $42,000/year after tax. I don't have $200 to shell out on therapy in office PER SESSION. Talkspace enabled me to pay a bit less than that PER MONTH for unlimited therapy. Yes, in all honesty it's not exactly like face to face therapy. But with video sessions it can be. And when you supplement that with chat and phone therapy, it turns out to be a great solution. The program is also very intuitive as is the case with their app too. It looks like a typical SMS layout...very very good. The price + the easy to use program + the multiple therapy options = a happy customer. I have been with them for 7.5 weeks now and I feel like I no longer need AA.
BEWARE: Talkspace will take your money and you won't even get proper care!!!! They will charge you while the therapist will just send you short messages like "hey i havent heard from you in a while is everything okay." Then when you reply "I don't want to use this service anymore" you will be charged because hey, you replied! That apparently counts as therapy, who knew??? STAY AWAY!
in the beginning, i did not expect talkspace to be helpful. but for a few dollars a week i couldnt resist, so i went for it. for anyone reading this just know: therapy is a process, not an exact science so *give it time* to work. i ended up using talkspace for 4 months. overall? i saw improvements in my quality of life and state of mental health but nothing over the top. its hard to describe in a review but basically talkspace helped me a bit more than my initial expectations. my online therapist helped like any therapist would or should...just dont expect it to be *the* go to solution.
For all the love I have seen showered on talk space I was reluctant. I have had several bad experiences with companies who get a lot of exposure. For me they end up being a dud. Online therapy is new and in my mind there would be many downsides. Also, I currently go to therapy in a traditional setting which in my opinion is the best form of therapy you can get. I was surprised though to see that talk space therapists make a strong effort. I guess after all they are therapists so they are just doing their job, maybe I shouldn’t have been so surprised. I still prefer my in office appointments but talk space is a fantastic compliment/addition to that.
the signup process was long and drawn out but I guess that’s how talkspace was really able to pair me with David – my unbelievable talkspace therapist. Aside from the signup process, 5 stars all around.
my talkspace therapist literally saved my life. In hindsight I should have sought help from the NSPL and I now realize therapy online is not the ideal for people like me. But I need to give credit where its due. My therapist is the one who guided me to the NSPL and talk me out of some terrible choices.