Talkspace Review 2020

by Mary Haynes
updated on

How it works | Counselors and Therapists | Is it Effective | Chat and Video Features | Cost | Insurance | Is it Worth it |

How Does Talkspace Work

Talkspace online therapy works by connecting clients and therapists through messaging and live chat. You can sign-up and instantly create an account on the Talkspace website directly or by downloading the app. All you need to provide is a nickname, a password, and a valid email address.

how talkspace works

After creating the account, you are matched with a therapist through an interactive process. A licensed mental health professional will give you an initial consultation. They’ll ask you basic questions about yourself and the issues you would like to address in your therapy. They’ll give you an overview of how the online therapy works at Talkspace, and then match you with the appropriate therapist.

The consultation therapist may ask a few follow-up questions: “have you ever worked with a therapist before?” Or “how long have you been having these issues?” It’s all to ensure they match you with the right therapist. Additionally, they’ll ask you about your preferences in terms of how you feel about live video sessions, which is technically an add-on to your plan.

Once you finish the consultation, it takes anywhere from 30 minutes to 24 hours to match with three potential therapists. You get to choose which one you think is best for you and then proceed to set up the rest of your account.

You are assigned a private chatroom where you can send messages and schedule live therapy sessions. This chatroom can be accessed from the Talkspace website or mobile app.

How Good are Talkspace Counselors and Therapists

Talkspace employs an extensive national network of licensed therapists. Each therapist undergoes a strict evaluation process, which includes having over 3,000 hours of clinical experience. They also go through a specialized training process for the platform itself, and the platform’s algorithm will only match you with a mental health professional that’s licensed to work in your state.

It’s common for Talkspace therapists to have additional training in other therapeutic approaches, including cognitive-behavioral therapy, existential-humanistic therapy, dialectical behavioral therapy, Psychodynamics, Mindfulness, and many more. The platform has a Board of Advisors who are prominent professionals in their fields to ensure a strict vetting process. Talkspace does not employ interns, therapists still under supervision or professionals who do not have an active license or proper education.

Can Talkspace Prescribe Medication

The therapists on Talkspace cannot directly prescribe medication if you have a mental illness. The platform does allow you to connect with an online psychiatrist, but they are limited to what they’re able to prescribe. An online appointment with the Talkspace psychiatrist costs an additional $199.

How Effective is Talkspace Online Counseling

There are small studies published in prestigious journals that suggest online therapy is as effective as in-person therapy. But all these researches included the use of live video in the therapy session and not messaging. Talkspace most basic plan includes only unlimited messaging with the therapist without any live sessions. There is no scientific research that can claim the effectiveness of Talkspace messaging only online therapy model.

While the goal of the Talkspace is to make online therapy convenient, affordable, and supportive. Many clients — especially those who are new to therapy—find the Talkspace platform very efficient and effective. As far as expectations go with the Talkspace platform, there is some room for improvement.

According to some client reviews, their therapists were too slow to respond or only respond with a brief message. While they understand how the messaging works, most people expect a bit more insight and value to what’s going on in their heads. After all, you want to know that your therapist respects your time and feelings.

While there’s an advantage to writing out your feelings, not getting a chance to work through them at the moment can be a major disadvantage. When you’re experiencing a low, text-only therapy isn’t really “there for you.” Your therapist’s response time may not align with your mental health struggles and needs, which can hurt rather than help.

Another disadvantage of text-only therapy is the fact that you can edit what you want to say to avoid any discomfort. Truthfully, if you want to make real progress in therapy, you need to experience that discomfort. Your therapist can’t read your face or pick up your hesitations via text message, so it could take a long time for you to make improvements.

In comparison to other online counseling platforms, such as BetterHelp, Talkspace’s most basic plan lacks some critical offerings. One of those offerings being the live sessions. That means if you can’t afford a better plan, the only “therapy” you’ll get on the platform is messaging.

Live sessions are always recommended with any counseling platform because it’s the closest you can get to in-person therapy. However, it gets rather expensive having to pay for each live session over time—possibly more so than seeing a therapist in person. If you choose to try out Talkspace, it’s essential that you opt for a plan that includes live sessions at least once a month.

In comparison, the BetterHelp counseling platform offers live sessions with their most basic plan. To truly glean the benefits of online therapy, you probably need to spring for the higher-priced plan with Talkspace.

Review of Talkspace Messaging and Live Sessions for Online Therapy

talkspace chat video sessions

The Talkspace platform offers unlimited private messaging and options for live chat and video sessions. Depending on the plan you choose, you may have access to multiple live sessions without an additional cost. The most basic plan offers one live session per week on top of the 24/7 private chat room access. You also have the option to add live sessions whenever you feel you need one for a fee.

As mentioned above, the messaging experience mostly revolves around waiting for your therapist to get back to you. However, it’s still a convenient and beneficial way to communicate and receive feedback. It suffices to say that it’s not always a waiting game, so you shouldn’t feel discouraged by reviews of long wait times or claims of brief and minimal guidance. Regardless of how long it may take them, the platform guarantees you’ll always get a response.

Talkspace chat therapy session

For a live video or chat session, you have to book an appointment with your therapist in advance. When you start the booking process, you’ll get a view of your therapist’s availability, and you can choose a time slot that suits you from there.

When you find the time slot that works for you, you can click the “book” button. Once they confirm, your appointment will be set, and all you have to do is log into your account at the designated time to begin the session.

The same process goes for live video chat sessions. However, the live video chat sessions are currently only compatible with your mobile device (Android and iOS), not your laptop or computer’s webcam. According to the Talkspace website FAQs, video sessions via the website should be available soon.

There is one caveat to these live sessions, and it’s rather inconvenient for some people. Clicking the “book” button doesn’t necessarily guarantee you an appointment for the time you choose.

When you book your time slot, you have to wait up to 24 hours for your therapist to confirm. In some cases, your therapist won’t be available during the time slot you’re hoping to book, which can set your schedule back if you’re pressed for time. It’s rare, but it happens.

Each live session runs for around 30 minutes. When you book a live chat or live video session, you can choose the length of your session. Having the option to select your session length is actually an advantage. It allows you to ease into the live sessions and get a feel for them before jumping right in.

Live sessions are always recommended on telehealth platforms. Live video sessions are especially useful since they’re the closest you can get to an in-person meeting with your therapist. Overall, they allow you to get a better feel for your therapist compared to the regular messaging on the platform. They also give you the necessary undivided attention from your therapist.

Talkspace Cost

Online therapy at Talkspace is a subscription based service. All subscription plans charge you on a monthly basis via credit card or PayPal account. There are no contracts or associated fees, so you can cancel your plan any time you’d like, hassle-free.

Talkspace offers five different plans:

  1. Unlimited Messaging Therapy Plus (only unlimited messaging). It costs $260 per month, $708 every three months, or $1,248 every six months.
  2. Unlimited Messaging Therapy Premium (unlimited messaging + 1 live session). It costs $316 per month, $852 every three months, or $1,512 every six months. You also get one live session each month.
  3. Unlimited Messaging Therapy Ultimate (unlimited messaging + 4 live sessions). It costs $396 per month, $1,068 every three months, or $1,896 every six months. You also get four live sessions each month.
  4. Talkspace Couples Therapy (only messaging) cost $396 per month or $1,068 every three months.
  5. Talkspace Teens Therapy (only messaging) costs $260 per month.

For each plan, you can add live video sessions “a la carte” for $65 per 30-minute session. You can make changes to your plans as needed, and as mentioned, you can cancel at any time you wish (more on that in a bit).

Switching therapists is also free of charge, in case you were wondering.

Insurance Coverage

Talkspace has recently opened its doors to partner with several U.S. health insurance companies. The platform is covered by some of the largest health insurers, including Cigna, Optum, Premera Blue Cross Blue Shield, and Humana.

Coverage is also offered through employer insurance plans, educational institutions, and other organizations that provide care. If you’re an existing Talkspace patient and want to know if your health insurance applies, all you have to do is check your eligibility under your account settings.

Cancellation and Refund Policy

Cancellation on the Talkspace platform is incredibly easy. All you have to do is click “cancel” under your account settings and nothing more. If you cancel before the end of your subscription, you’ll still get full access until your plan’s original expiration date.

In terms of getting a refund, it’s highly unlikely. Talkspace is committed to your overall experience, and they don’t give partial refunds for unused time.

Under certain circumstances, the platform’s customer service team will review your case along with your therapist to make accommodations. In place of a refund, they’ll offer you a credit to use at a later time.

Additionally, you have the option to pause your account for seven days at a time. That way, if something comes up, you won’t lose your paid time.

Is Talkspace Worth it?

The Talkspace telehealth platform offers a convenient and tempered way for people to get support for their mental health issues. The most basic subscription gives you around the clock access to a licensed therapist. Granted, they’re not awake around the clock, but Monday through Friday during business hours is still a good deal.

Telehealth platforms overall are revolutionizing how we deal with our mental health. Whether you suffer from depression, recently experienced a loss or traumatizing event, or just need someone to talk to for perspective on an issue, you’ll have the tools right at your fingertips. You can get professional help from the comfort of your own home and on your time for a more affordable price.

Given that technology is a part of everything we do now, Talkspace is an incredibly effective form of therapy. It may not be suitable for those with extreme conditions, but at the very least, it’s a foot in the door for timid first-timers. The beauty of the Talkspace platform is that you get to remain completely anonymous—you don’t even have to tell your therapist your name unless you want to, which is okay too.

One thing we love and appreciate about Talkspace is the session options you get. Having the freedom to reach out to your therapist in a private chat space is empowering because it allows you to do the talking. It also helps that you’re not forced into a face-to-face meeting right away with a complete stranger.

Thinking about spilling your entire life to a stranger keeps a lot of people from attending therapy sessions, to begin with. Options are critical when it comes to your mental health, especially if you’re not ready to jump in full-throttle.

Another critical factor that makes Talkspace so appealing is that you can switch therapists with ease. Finding the right therapist that’s accommodating, constructive, and insightful is a critical component of any therapy session. The wrong therapist can do more harm than good, and “breaking up” with your therapist is not exactly a comfortable situation.

Additionally, it’s incredibly convenient that the platform is working to become completely accessible. Between affordable pricing and working with insurance companies, many more people will have access to a mental health professional.

Overall, Talkspace is worth the investment. It may seem a bit pricey, but remember, you’re getting access to as many experienced, licensed, and committed mental health professionals as you need. It’s also much more cost-effective compared to paying for therapy sessions out of pocket without health insurance.

Your mental health matters, even if you don’t have a mental illness. With that in mind, an online therapy platform like Talkspace is worth a try. The worst-case scenario is that you don’t like your therapist and switch, or it’s not for you, and you cancel your subscription without any trouble.