Among an increasingly crowded field of online mental health providers, Talkspace is a top option. The site advertises itself as the top-rated choice in online therapy, and with over one million users, the public seems to see the benefit. With psychiatric treatments and therapy services available for teens, adults, and couples, Talkspace may be a great treatment choice for many mental health concerns.
What Does Talkspace Offer & Who Is It Right For?
Talkspace offers an extensive and steadily growing list of therapy and psychiatric services that aim to improve the mental health of people 13 years old and older. With a focus on individual therapy, Talkspace has a group of more than 1,000 licensed therapists who provide treatment for the residents of their state.1
The therapy services available through Talkspace include:
- Text, video, and audio messaging with the therapist responding one or two times each day, five days per week
- 30 minute live individual therapy sessions
- Couples therapy with text, video, and audio messaging
Outside of the individual or couples therapy options, Talkspace offers a specialized treatment for people who struggle to get good sleep at night. Called Talkspace Insomnia, the eight-week program helps build better sleep through behavioral changes, rather than medication, which can be a short-term and addictive solution to a long-term problem.2
Talkspace therapy can quickly and effectively reduce a person’s symptoms and improve their well-being, while others will benefit from medication. For those interested in medication, Talkspace Psychiatry provides people with medication evaluations performed by either psychiatrists or nurse practitioners who specialize in psychiatry.3 People may desire only medication services, only therapy, or a combined approach that incorporates the two.
Who Is Talkspace Right For?
Talkspace will not be the best option for every person, but the service may work well for:2
- People new to therapy: Starting mental health treatment can be a new and scary experience for people. If in-person counseling is diving into the deep end, Talkspace represents wading into the shallows.
- People looking to supplement their weekly sessions: People may enjoy their ongoing, face-to-face therapist while having the desire for more contact between sessions. For them, Talkspace is a bridge to cover the gaps.
- People interested in a level of anonymity: With mental health stigmas and a demand for privacy, people may resist in-person sessions for fear of being recognized. Talkspace is a treatment you don’t have to leave the house for with a therapist who could live hundreds of miles away.
- People without insurance or access to insurance: Mental health treatment may be expensive without insurance. If someone doesn’t have and can’t get insurance, Talkspace is an affordable alternative.
- People with mild symptoms: Sometimes people struggle with short-term and situational stresses and may not require the full intensity of in-person treatment.
- Couples: Especially when schedules conflict or the couple is separated, Talkspace can be a way to connect and address concerns.
- Teenagers: With limited control in decision making and poor access to transportation, teens may not be able to access traditional mental health care.
Talkspace reports successfully treating people with numerous issues, such as:1
- Eating disorders
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- LGBTQ+ issues
- Relationship issues with family or friends
Who May Want an Alternative to Talkspace?
Talkspace is an online therapy and psychiatry subscription that provides valuable services to many, but not all people will receive the required level of services from the platform.
Some who should explore other forms of mental health treatment include:2
- Children under 13: Since Talkspace caps the age of treatment at 13, children 12 and under are not eligible for the service. Plenty of in-person treatment options exist, so the child and their parents should consider speaking to their pediatrician or a local mental health professional.
- Anyone in crisis: Whether from depression, anxiety, or any other psychological concern, a person in crisis needs immediate assistance that is not a strength of Talkspace. Talkspace’s messaging pager specifically states, “If you are in a life threatening situation, do NOT use this site. Call the 24-hr National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1.800.273.8255. Your call will be routed to the crisis center near you. If your issue is an emergency, call 911 or go to your nearest emergency room”4
- People who struggle to explain themselves: Not every person has the capability to explain their situation well in short messages and require an in-person therapist to draw out information over the course of an hour-long session. These people would do better with a face-to-face appointment.
- People with technology issues: Talkspace provides mental health services, but it is still a technology company that leverages smartphones and computers. People who normally shy away from technology, lack the equipment, or have spotty internet service may feel more comfortable and benefit more from face-to-face therapy sessions.
Talkspace Pricing & Costs
Talkspace uses a tiered subscription model for its therapy services, with different plans offering different levels of treatment at different costs. The company also allows people to add services to their plans for an additional fee.
Talkspace has several unique pricing models, including:1
Unlimited Messaging Therapy Plus
This lowest priced option is billed monthly at $230, quarterly at $708, and twice yearly at $1248.
The Therapy Plus tier includes unlimited text, video, and audio messages with a therapist who will respond five days of the week. At this price point, no live therapy sessions are included.
Unlimited Messaging Therapy Premium
The middle tier is available at $316 monthly, $852 quarterly, and $1512 twice yearly.
The Unlimited Therapy Premium package includes all of the features of the Plus plan with the addition of one live therapy session each month. The live session is 30 minutes in length.
Unlimited Messaging Therapy Ultimate
The Ultimate package is billed as $396 monthly, $1068 every three months, and $1896 every six months.
The highest-priced option is also the one with the most live therapy sessions. With the unlimited text, audio, and video messaging of the other plans, the ultimate package provides 30 minute live sessions four times per month.
Talkspace for teens is $65 per week and Talkspace Couples is $99 each week.
As Talkspace aims to provide an affordable option, all of these tiered plans could be a better value than pay out-of-pocket for frequent face-to-face therapy sessions, which can easily cost $100 for each weekly session. Over the course of a year, Talkspace could save someone thousands of dollars. It should be noted, though, that people with insurance coverage will likely pay more with Talkspace.
Does Talkspace Take Insurance?
Talkspace does take insurance, but the availability is currently limited. People interested in using their insurance to fund their Talkspace treatment can refer to the company’s insurance coverage page to assess their options.
In addition to health plans, Talkspace has partnered with schools and businesses to provide treatment to their students and employees. Using the same lookup tool can let people know if they qualify and guide them in the process of beginning care.3
Talkspace does not accept any public insurance plans like those offered through Medicare and Medicaid.
Potential for Financial Aid/Assistance?
Talkspace does not offer traditional financial aid or assistance to those with lower incomes. The platform encourages people to explore additional payment options available through their employer or insurance provider in the form of Flexible Spending Accounts (FSA) or Health Savings Account (HSA). These accounts allow people to set aside money throughout the year to spend on healthcare-related fees and costs, and can decrease the financial stress of payment.2
At times, Talkspace may advertise promotions to help people decrease the cost of their initial subscription. Before signing up, be sure to search the site for promotional codes and special offers.
How to Sign Up for Talkspace & Set Your First Appointment
To reduce the barriers to access, Talkspace’s sign-up process is streamlined and obvious. Signing up will vary depending on the device and operating system used.
Someone can sign up for Talkspace in just a few simple steps:
Step 1: Click on “Try Talkspace Now” and Create your Account
Anywhere on the Talkspace site, clicking “Try Talkspace Now” or “Get started” will prompt the user to create an account with:
Step 2: Meet your Consultation Therapist
Listed as both a “matching agent” and a “consultation therapist,” this licensed therapist works to gather some basic information about you and your situation to connect you to an appropriate therapist. The page also introduces some of Talkspace’s user experience elements like text boxes, embedded videos in the “helpful tips” section, and therapy tools.
Step 3: Choose your Plan and Check Out
Here, the three plans called Messaging +1 Live Video, Messaging Therapy, and Messaging +4 Live Videos are presented. Click on the plan that best fits with your needs and budget. Then, decide how you want to pay. Monthly, quarterly, and biannual options exist for added convenience.
Review your details to check your charges and enter your promo code. On the checkout page, enter your credit card information and complete your purchase to get started.
Step 4: Complete Matching Intake and Choose Your Therapist
Immediately after entering your credit card information, you can access the matching intake that asks a few simple questions about the reasons for treatment, previous therapy experience, therapy goals, location, age, gender, and preferred gender of your therapist.
Once completed, your matching agent posts a list of three therapists who are compatible with your intake. Each therapist’s bio provides some brief information about their experience, education, work hours, and status on the Talkspace network. They even have the ability to post a video to their profile. Select “Choose Therapist,” and you are on your way.
Step 5: Informed Consent and Treatment Intake
An informed consent is a standard treatment form that explains what counseling is, issues of confidentiality, and the importance of formally agreeing to treatment. Click “I agree” to move on.
The treatment intake is a more in depth way to gather information about your mental health and medical histories. An emergency contact is requested should unforeseen situations develop.
Step 6: Start Messaging with your Therapist
With the forms completed, you are set to send a message to your therapist. Because the illustrated account was established on a Friday night, the therapist is not expected to respond until sometime Monday morning, which makes Talkspace a less than ideal option for people who tend to experience more symptoms in the evenings and on the weekends.
In the meantime, the app offers a range of exercises that range from one to 15 minutes and cover some basic therapy skills like negative self-talk, mindfulness, and deep breathing. These may help to reduce some presenting symptoms while building a better understanding of what therapy looks like.
Monday morning came and went without a message from the therapist. When this occurs, Talkspace gives the option of prompting the therapist. The expected reply time changed to 3 pm on Monday, but it seems the therapist could reach out at any time before then. Someone who is anxiously awaiting their first message could see this as a frustrating delay.
Overall, the messaging process seems familiar with the ability to quickly transition between text, audio, and picture messages. Because of the delays, though, the contact with therapists will feel more like brief emails, rather than spontaneous and reciprocal text messages.
Confidentiality & Privacy
Issues of confidentiality and privacy are central to any health care experience, and Talkspace reports having multiple systems in place to guard a person’s protected information.
- Using an up-to-date payment security system to protect personal information
- Storing data and channeling communication with encrypted servers and software
- Requiring a password to access your account during each session
- Maintaining HIPAA compliant technology
Issues of confidentiality and privacy become more complicated between couples and teens and their parents, so Talkspace has systems in place to maintain the legal and ethical boundaries of privacy.
Pros & Cons of Talkspace Based on User Reviews
With a rating of 4.2 out of five over nearly 11,500 ratings on the App Store alone, Talkspace is a highly-reviewed and valued service based on user opinions.
Some of the most positive opinions of Talkspace refer to:
- Finding great providers who are very responsive throughout the week
- Getting about 10 minutes of therapy time per day, which equates to about an hour-long therapy session every week
- Therapist being upfront and honest about their areas of focus
- Feeling more comfortable expressing thoughts in writing than words
- Not having to worry about missing appointments or paying cancelation fees
- The comfort and convenience of completing therapy activities at home
- The service is a helpful addition to in-person weekly therapy
- The benefit of having a stable service when people move frequently for work
- The service as a “game changer” that offers a month of treatment for the same price as what some providers charge for one session
Despite the positive reviews, some people find issues with the Talkspace service.
Some common user complaints are:
- Lack of quick or meaningful therapy response
- The complications with trying to start over with a new therapist and having to explain the problems over again
- Therapists who only restate the information a client gives without offering interventions or ways to move the conversation forward
- The process taking too long and moving too slowly based on only one or two responses each day
- The service being too expensive for the limited contact
- Problems accurately expressing challenging topics and feelings in writing or other messages
- A lack of diversity in available therapists
Talkspace vs. Betterhelp vs In-Person Therapy
Talkspace has several competitors that range from the traditional in-person therapy that has been around for decades to other technology-based companies. Each has its strengths as they appeal to different groups of people.
Talkspace Counseling vs Betterhelp
Talkspace and Betterhelp have a similar goal of providing therapy services online, but their approaches and interfaces are quite different. When you log onto Talkspace, the pricing and services transparency stands out. Before long, a person can gather the needed information about plans and pricing without disclosing anything.1
Betterhelp takes a different approach by asking for a significant amount of information immediately.
This service asks for:4
- The type of therapy you want
- Your gender
- Your age
- Your sexual orientation
- Relationship status
- Religiosity and spirituality
- About a dozen additional aspects of life
Only after completing all of this information can a person learn more about the actual services, plans, and pricing.
Like Talkspace, Betterhelp provides a combination of messaging and video conferencing, but Betterhelp lets people connect via phone calls as well.5
Talkspace Counseling vs In-Person Counseling
Rather than comparing Talkspace to in-person counseling directly, it can be helpful to see these as complementary, not competing, treatments. Talkspace will likely help many people with mental health concerns just as in-person counseling will help people with mental health concerns.
If some needs more flexibility and convenience, then Talkspace could be the better option. If someone needs more direct feedback and an in-person connection, face-to-face therapy will be the way to go. Still, others will see both services as a great way to maintain their mental health and well-being.
Final Verdict on Talkspace
Like other mental health services, the final verdict on Talkspace is that it is a great service for people looking for a nontraditional approach to therapy, and for other people, it will be an uncomfortable, unsatisfying, and disappointing experience. When beginning your first month of Talkspace, it will be valuable to manage your expectations to prevent a let down. Instead, enter with an open mind to get the most of the service.
One way to improve the experience is by exploring all the platform has to offer. Experiment with the text, audio, and video messages and exercises, but people should consider upgrading to a live video session to see the full range of services. Contact customer service if any technical or clinical issues develop.
The biggest mistake a person can make with their mental health is doing nothing at all. If you need something to boost your mood, calm your anxieties, or strengthen your relationships, give Talkspace a try.