Sometimes in-person therapy just isn’t realistic. I spend most of my time traveling or living abroad, so finding a therapist who speaks English and establishing an in-person therapeutic relationship is just out of the question.
But, perhaps like you, therapy has been an incredible tool to help me manage anxiety, depression, chronic pain, unemployment, breakups, and more. Right now during this whole pandemic thing it’s especially important to have access to mental health therapy.
Coronavirus pandemic + quarantining and social distancing + threats of economic collapse and unemployment = the perfect storm for triggering mental health struggles.
I first took the leap and tried out Talkspace, an online therapy app, starting at the end of 2016. I wrote a Talkspace review post a few months into using the service. Even though I updated it frequently to reflect my ongoing experience with text therapy, I felt like I should write a follow-up review of Talkspace after using it for over a year and working with two different Talkspace therapists.
Before reading this post, you might want to check out my first review post.
I’ll start where I had left off…
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New year, new mental health problems
When I started using Talkspace, I was seeking help to become less stuck in my life. I had recently graduated from grad school and was trying to figure out what to do next professionally. I also was in a relationship that just didn’t feel right and was trying to figure out how to handle that.
Over the course of working with my therapist for a year, I had made some substantial changes in my life, thanks to her support and gentle guidance. I had more or less tackled the question of what to do next professionally (I started freelancing) and how to handle my relationship (we broke up), and now my biggest mental health problem was my chronic jaw pain.
(By the way, I make it sound super casual like I just got over all my issues but it was a loooong process with many ups and downs, and a lot of stuff I still struggle with.)
Eventually, I felt like my therapeutic relationship with my first Talkspace therapist had naturally come to an end. So I decided to switch therapists. This felt appropriate as well since the issues I wanted to discuss in therapy also shifted completely.
My experience switching Talkspace therapists
Switching therapists on the platform was incredibly easy, especially compared to switching therapists in in-person therapy. (I don’t know if you’ve ever done that, but it’s such an awkward conversation to have. And then if you switch to someone working in the same office as your former therapist [because they’re the only ones who take your insurance or something], it can be even weirder.)
I was grateful to not have to deal with any of that awkwardness. I just messaged my therapist and explained that I wanted to switch and we debriefed…
Then I was connected with someone new, in the very same chat room.
This meant my new therapist, who we’ll call Ashley, could still access the conversations I had had with my former therapist. It was a year’s worth of conversations so I felt it would just be easier to explain to her where I was at than have her read through all that text. However, if you’ve only been working with someone for a short time and switch therapists, know you don’t have to re-explain everything once you make the switch.
Ashley and I got to meet in a free 10-minute video call the same way I had met my first therapist when we started working together.
She also had me sign an informed consent form and emergency contact information form. These were two things I was never asked to fill out before and I was pleased to see Talkspace is now including them (especially the emergency contact form) in their onboarding process. This was something I had criticized in my initial Talkspace review post because I felt Talkspace was working with an at-risk population and needed to take responsibility for their role.
Ashley and I talked about my goals and then we got started working together. Like Rachel, she worked five days on and took two days off a week. She responded to my texts twice a day and asynchronously, meaning not necessarily when I messaged her but usually a few hours later.
Talkspace review: How my new therapist helped me manage my pain
Like I said, the main thing I wanted to work on was dealing with my chronic jaw pain. While I worked with my dentist and a physical therapist to try to reduce the physical pain, I felt I needed a therapist to attack the issue from a cognitive, behavioral, and emotional perspective. I recognized my pain was related to my stress, anxiety, and thoughts in general.
After learning more about me, Ashley came up with a treatment plan based on the Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) models. The idea was to fully understand how my thoughts and behaviors contributed to my pain and identify any triggers and relievers. She helped me create a Google spreadsheet to start tracking my symptoms and my mood. Then we added physical exercise tracking to the same spreadsheet…
Next Ashley taught me three different types of relaxation methods and we added those in and started tracking that. Then added in pleasurable activities and tracked that as well. This is what the main page of my spreadsheet looked like (it might not make complete sense without the legend to identify what the numbers mean, but the legend was on another sheet in the document, and you get the idea):
Eventually, the combination of attacking the problem from multiple directions at once (both physical and mental/emotional) got me to a place where the pain in my jaw was manageable and I could focus on other things in my life. If you want to read my full TMJD story with all the details, check out this post.
I was even able to use the data I was collecting on myself to chart my pain over time, among other things:
My physical health issues (related to my anxiety surely) were, alas, never-ending. With my jaw pain at manageable levels, I could tackle the next physical cause of much emotional distress: my cystic body acne. Ashley (the grey speech bubbles) worked with me to explore treatment options and adjust some of my thoughts:
Again, I combined Talkspace mental health therapy with seeking medical treatment for my symptoms and eventually got to a place where my skin condition and anxiety around it is manageable.
Answering some more Talkspace FAQs
Is Talkspace legit?
Yes, Talkspace is a legitimate company and the professionals you work with are licensed therapists. I have spoken with members of the Talkspace team on the phone and have met both of my therapists through video chat so can confirm they are all 100% real and legitimate people.
Can Talkspace prescribe medication?
They now offer something called Talkspace Psychiatry where you can be evaluated and prescribed any necessarily psychotropic medications.
What does Talkspace cost?
Their lowest tier includes unlimited text, video, and audio messaging wherein your therapist responds to messages daily, 5 days/week, and they have packages going up from there. You are billed monthly and can cancel anytime. The price depends on how long you decide to sign up for initially:
- Billed Monthly: $260
- Billed Quarterly: $708 every three months
- Billed Biannually: $1248 every six months
Depending on what kind of health insurance you have, I find the cost is a little bit less or equal to the cost of seeing a therapist in person once a week. When I’ve gone in for in-person therapy, the lowest fee I could negotiate (ask for a sliding fee scale if you are seeing an in-person therapist and don’t have health insurance!) was $75 per 50-minute session. I currently see a local non-Talkspace therapist (still virtually but we do calls once a week) and it’s $95 per session on the sliding fee scale (so the usual rate is MORE!).
Is Talkspace worth it?
It definitely was worth it for me. As I said, I worked with counselors on the platform for over a year and they helped me so much. This was all before the pandemic and before virtual therapy was as much of a thing, so I was very grateful to even have the option to be in therapy online.
Honestly, Talkspace has its pros and cons. It’s an amazing resource for people like me who, in the past, haven’t had access to any form of in-person therapy. I also express myself way better in writing so that’s a plus.
One thing that did bother me was I felt like the asynchronous and evenly spaced therapist response rate over time didn’t align with the way my mental health struggles presented: I would go through troughs of feeling bad and wanting to talk a lot and work through things then peaks of feeling better and not having much to communicate. I felt like my therapist wasn’t there enough during the low times and I couldn’t stay engaged in conversation during the high times, if that makes sense.
That said, Talkspace was truly nothing but helpful for me. I used the service for about a year and a half and worked with two different therapists during that time. My therapists helped me through issues like depression and feeling stuck, love/sex/relationships, professional frustrations and roadblocks, and anxiety and chronic pain.
They worked with me on gratitudes, affirmations, trauma work, CBT, and other treatment strategies.
I eventually stopped using the service because I couldn’t stay engaged; I took it as a sign that I was ready to move on without therapy in my life.
I went without therapy for a few years and then started again since the pandemic. I tried BetterHelp (and compared it to Talkspace), and now I work with a local therapist I found in PsychologyToday’s directory. What’s great is now many therapists are offering a free 30-minute first consultation so you can really make sure you connect before making a big financial (and emotional!) commitment.
Should you try Talkspace? If you’re considering it, I would say try it out. There’s no contract so you can always cancel. And with the code below you’ll get a discount on your first month. I’ve referred friends to the service and some have stuck with it and really like it, while it wasn’t a good fit for others. I think that’s just how these things are, but you’ll never know if you never try.
Get $80 (!!) off your first month with Talkspace
I update this section often, but Talkspace updates their sign-up discount more often so check their site!!
If you want to sign up, click here and use the code GOAL for $80 off your first month of Talkspace.
Again, as I said in my first Talkspace review, whether you choose text therapy or not, don’t give up on seeking treatment. The right fit is out there.
And, as they say, this, too, shall pass.
From me: Talkspace vs BetterHelp: I try them both and compare
From me: My first Talkspace review: my experience using text therapy
From me: A visualization technique for when you feel like you’re losing at life
From VeryWellMind: Talkspace Review
$45/week might be affordable if you live in the U.S. or make amazing wages, but if you’re living anywhere else, that equates to what rent costs, and about half one’s income. It’s not affordable MOST places in the world, in other words. Still no such thing as mental health care for those who really need it.
Hi Jack, I completely agree.
Mishvo, I had a terrible experience with Talkspace and would never recommend it to anyone. I invested a huge amount of time and mental effort to explain what was going through my head, to help my therapist know where I was at, and expended a great deal of emotional pain in the process…only to have my therapist blame me time and again for being unable to communicate and for her inability to understand me. Now, most conventional therapists are meeting online because of COVID-19, so in my opinion it’d be a better to choose a conventional therapist and have sessions with them via Zoom or some other HIPAA-approved app. The format of online chat therapy is simply not appropriate for sorting through and exploring emotional issues, in my opinion.
Hi Joe, man that sounds awful I’m sorry you had such a bad experience. I feel like it really comes down to the therapist you work with :/ That’s why I loved how easy it was to just switch therapists if you end up with someone you feel isn’t helping you (and it sounds like your therapist not only wasn’t helping but was making things worse!). Did you try switching therapists? Anyway that’s super awesome more therapists are offering remote help, though yeah I would definitely be wary of making sure to find a HIPAA approved platform to discuss such sensitive stuff. Also, the therapists on Talkspace *are* conventional therapists with the same training and experience. But I completely understand that texting or video calling just doesn’t work for some people as a means to work through emotional issues. I hope you have been able to find the right treatment that works for you.
Listening to your story helped me think about going this route for talk therapy. Thank you for your journey.
Hi Nancy, thank you for your comment. I’m so glad to hear that, thanks for sharing.
Guys I had the worst experience with talk space. I sign up and went back to the room and the therapist and the package I purchase was disappeared. Nobody answer me and no one contact me.
Hi Tania, Agh that does sound awful…You should definitely reach back out to their support.
5 STARS (Out of 5 Stars)
Talkspace does everything it claims it does. There is no deception.
The first therapist sent me “copy & paste” texts describing how therapy works. At the same time I was texting her my in-depth issues. She didn’t respond, except sending the “copy & paste” texts. On the third day I resent what I sent her on the first two days. She told me this is a lot to digest and suggested I start a meditation practice. She never addressed what I wrote – she just talked about meditation.
I switched therapist, which is a great feature of Talkspace. I felt hear by this therapist (I didn’t feel heard by the first therapist.) However, there was no intuition in our texts. She just rephrased what I texted. For example, I would text, “My brother is so self-absorbed and self-centered that all he talks about is himself. I’m having anxiety trying to communicate with him.” She would text back, “I understand. You are having difficulties communicating with your brother and that causes anxiety.” And that would be it. It’s so frustrating!
I give Talk Space 5 STARS, because it does what it says it will do. But I will never use it again nor would I refer a friend.
Hi Don, I’m sorry to hear your therapists were so unresponsive, that’s super frustrating. Maybe third times a charm? I would’ve definitely switched therapists again or contact them to get my money back.
I joined Talkspace. I was assigned a therapist eventually and immediately started to message her. No response after one, two three, four days. I tried to schedule a video and was told that she was booked for 3 weeks. After more attempts, I gave up and asked for a new therapist. I didn’t like the ones their bot suggested and asked for a matching agent, presumably a live person. She didn’t respond. Of course I couldn’t find a support phone number so I filled out a support form. They offered a series of ways to get me back into the fold. I wanted out and they offered me half of what I paid. That’s a pretty good business model. Do nothing and keep half of what a client paid. I refused and wanted further support feedback Well, since they are SO busy it will take up to 21 days for a response. Ver nice!!
Hi Roger, that sounds maddening, I’m sorry you had such a bad experience. I definitely didn’t go through anything like that when I used Talkspace…I did have some trouble earlier this year with Betterhelp and I think it’s just because therapists have been in *such* high demand this year. Anyway, I really hope you find someone to talk to!