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Recently, I reviewed one of the most popular online counseling/therapy platforms, BetterHelp. In case you missed it, check out the review and compare the two programs to find the one that fits your needs. Today, I will be talking about Talkspace – another popular e-counseling platform that has helped about 1 million people get better and feel happier.
In this neutral and unbiased review, I will be talking about Talkspace, its cost, as well as its pros and cons. I will also do a bit of comparative analysis between Talkspace and BetterHelp. My earlier review also talks about that, so I won’t go into too many details this time, but be sure to read that review too. This will help you make an informed decision as to where to go for therapy, in case you are considering online sessions.
What is Talkspace?
Talkspace is an online therapy platform started by Oren and Roni Frank in 2012. As stated earlier, nearly a million people have used it for counseling, for issues like couples therapy, anxiety, phobias, depression, trauma, physical or emotional abuse, career guidance and so on. They have more than 3000 licensed and certified therapists available to help people who are facing these problems.
Many people prefer online therapy these days mainly because traditional or face-to-face therapy can be inconvenient and expensive. You sometimes have to take time off work for such face-to-face sessions. Additionally, professional therapists charge huge amounts of money on an hourly basis and most insurance companies do not cover these costs. Traditional therapists also might not be available every moment of the day, especially when one is in crisis. Online therapy can overcome these drawbacks to an extent.
How does Talkspace work?
So once you decide to go in for online or e-counseling, you simply click on the website or download their application on your smartphone. You then need to fill in some basic details like your email, name and nickname, and choose a password for your account. When it comes to comparing Talkspace and BetterHelp, I felt that the sign up was really, really convenient with TS. In fact, I did not even have to mention my gender, age or go to my email in order to have that verified. So I must say that Talkspace has really scored a point here. You immediately get on a live chat with a therapist, who sends you a message, welcoming you and asking you to review their subscription plans together. You can choose different plans as per your budget and then select the kind of therapy/counseling method you prefer, like text chat, phone sessions or live video calls.
Basic information for signing up
Compared to BetterHelp which asks you several questions, Talkspace only asks for email, name and password to your account. You even get to choose a nickname to keep your identity private. They also suggest an encrypted password which makes it easy to keep everything private.
How much does Talkspace cost?
Talkspace comes to a little over $200 per month based on the number of sessions and the type of therapy you select. The answer to the question if Talkspace can be covered by the insurance is: do not count on it. It is usually not covered by Medicaid or Medicare. You can pay them via PayPal or credit card. A Flexible Spending Account is known to cover most bills of online therapy. This is actually better as you also get tax benefits, so in case you plan on having online therapy for yourself or a loved one in the future, you might want to use a FSA account.
Here is a simple breakdown of Talkspace pricing:
- Limited Text, video and audio messaging – $49 per week. Note that you are billed slightly over $200 per month with taxes etc.
- Unlimited text, audio and video messaging plus 1 live session per month comes to $59 per week.
In short, Talkspace can cost anywhere between $20 to $250 per session based on the duration and method you choose. As stated in my BetterHelp review, cost and packages of both platforms are more or less similar. BetterHelp may be slightly more expensive, but then again, it offers unlimited live sessions whereas Talkspace only has limited ones so far.
Is Talkspace perfect?
As with any online therapy, there are good and bad aspects about Talkspace. In this section, I will focus on areas that could be improved, so you can make an informed choice. I will later summarize the pros and cons of TS.
- Most customers have felt that when you go for the limited packages of TS, you tend to get limited responses from therapists on this platform. For example, some therapists tell you upfront that they can only speak to you twice a day. So you will only get two messages per day from them, which can be a bit inconvenient to say the least.
- Many users have received canned or ‘copy-pasted’ responses from their counselors. This is also inconvenient for users seeking genuine actionable to-do lists. For example, some have been told to meditate or write a diary. These solutions might not always help someone having deep rooted issues, at least in the beginning. For the same reasons, some users have had to change their therapists. This is quite a process as far as I have heard (I have not tried it, so I cannot say for sure).
- A few people actually stopped their online therapy on Talkspace and went to traditional counseling. They felt that traditional counseling gave better results in one hour of face-to-face sessions and actually worked out cheaper in the end than TS. This could be due to the verbal and audio cues that therapists catch upon during face-to-face sessions; something that is nearly impossible with texting therapy (video chats could solve this problem to some extent).
- Be prepared to text – a lot. If you are asked for details about your childhood, you would need to type tons of messages as you can imagine.
- Some users got messages from their therapists at inconvenient times. For example, you might have had a crisis or needed help in the morning, but your chosen therapist could be in another time zone and respond in the evening. This can potentially be a drawback for some.
Talkspace couples therapy
One thing I want to talk about here is this special offering from TS. This is a popular and unique therapy for couples having relationship issues. The cost of Talkspace couples therapy comes to about $79 per month. In this case, you and your partner also get to share the same therapist and you can choose to log in at the same time or have one on one sessions with the same counselor. I think this can be tremendously beneficial for couples who do not have time to schedule joint or separate in person counseling sessions. BetterHelp also offers couples counseling, but for some reason, Talkspace couples counseling has received better reviews. TS has qualified therapists for a variety of relationship issues ranging from infidelity, sexual health and more.
Therapists may be the same on both platforms
During the course of my research of both BetterHelp and Talkspace, I found out that both platforms tend to have a few of the same counselors. Naturally, if you are a therapist, you would want to sign up on various platforms to get more clients. Just a point I thought I should mention here.
Pros and cons of Talkspace
There are pros and cons of both Talkspace and BetterHelp. Here are some points worth mentioning if you are considering trying out Talkspace.
- Options of unlimited messaging, video or phone therapy sessions.
- Might end up a lot cheaper than traditional counseling (this obviously depends on how many sessions you need). You will certainly save on transportation costs incurred when you schedule in-person therapy sessions.
- Talkspace couples therapy is a popular option for couples in long distance relationships or those who are unable to schedule in-person sessions.
- Affordable rates – the rates are cheaper than BetterHelp. But I have explained the subtle cost differences above as well as in my review on BH.
- Confidential and anonymous – no reports so far of TS selling your information.
- No reports of fraudulent billing. Cancellation of subscription is easy.
- You can use the platform on a smartphone or computer.
- Easy appointment scheduling. You do not need any special hardware and can message your therapist anytime you are dealing with anxiety or panic attack.
- Time management is a huge advantage of Talkspace. You do not have to take time off work for scheduling appointments.
- They are offering a few free sessions for the LGBT community.
- Like with all other online counseling, there is a lack of visual and auditory cues – especially if you choose to text your counselor. This can be deterrent sometimes as therapists use this crucial information.
- As always there are limitations about technology. Internet speed, geographical location etc. can be issues when it comes to needing help for an immediate crisis.
- Limited packages mean limited texts from therapists.
- Changing therapists can be quite a process as reported by some.
- TS does not offer free or demo sessions.
Should you use Talkspace?
All in all, Talkspace is a great option for someone who is looking for counseling online and you should definitely try it out. In case you are dissatisfied, you can always unsubscribe, change your therapist or even go for traditional counseling. The important thing is that you act, if you want your life to get better.
- Unlimited messaging, video or phone option
- Can be cheaper than traditional counseling
- Use the platform on a smartphone or computer
- Easy appointment scheduling with therapists
- No need to take time off work for scheduling
- Lack of visual and auditory cues when texting
- Technology may be a limiting factor in crisis
- Limited packages limits texts from therapists
- Changing therapists can be troublesome
- Talkspace does not offer free or demo sessions