Talkspace Review: Pros, Cons, and Is It a Good Value?

Talkspace is a telemedicine provider of mental health services that offers patients on demand virtual treatment for a variety of mental health issues. 

 

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By: Bridget Reed

Medically reviewed by: Dr. Gerardo Sison

Last Updated: July 27th, 2021

What is Talkspace | Talkspace Offers | Is it effective? | Pricing | Pros and Cons

 If you’re struggling with your mental health but aren’t interested in pursuing in-person therapy with a mental health provider, you’ve likely been on your own for years. Recently, companies like Talkspace have been founded with the mission of making mental health services more accessible for people with a variety of backgrounds, time constraints, and disposable income. 

Helping people via cognitive behavioral therapy, as well as a gamut of other methods, Talkspace has licensed therapists and certified doctors to address a variety of mental health issues using psychotherapy and psychiatry. 

If you are considering using a telemedicine provider as a way to access mental health services, our Talkspace review will tell you everything you need to know about this industry leader. 

What is Talkspace?

Talkspace is a popular telehealth platform that offers therapy from qualified mental health professionals via text and video chat. More than one million users have received therapy through Talkspace, which counts celebrities like Michael Phelps and Demi Lovato among its advocates. 

According to the company’s website, Talkspace was founded with the mission to provide more people with convenient access to licensed providers who can help those in need to live a happier and healthier life and to make therapy available and affordable to all. 

The Talkspace website notes that the intention of the platform is not to replace traditional in-office therapy, but rather to provide the opportunity for more people to utilize and benefit from therapy and overcome their day-to-day challenges in a stigma-free environment.

What does Talkspace offer?

The cornerstone of Talkspace’s product offering is convenient access to thousands of licensed, trained, experienced, and accredited mental health professionals, including psychiatrists (MD or DO), psychologists (PhD/PsyD), marriage and family therapists (LMFT), clinical social workers (LCSW/LMSW), and board licensed professional counselors (LPC). 

The service offers counseling for individuals, couples, and teens ages 13 and above and offers psychiatric care, including evaluations and psychiatric medication management, for patients ages 18 and older. 

To begin using Talkspace, clients start by filling out a brief assessment that requires answering a few questions about their preferences in a therapist, the reason why they are seeking psychotherapy or psychiatric care, their location, and more as part of the sign up process. 

The client is matched with a consulting therapist who can give them more information about how Talkspace works, as well as the available subscription options, and help you match with a therapist or mental health professional. Based on this initial discussion, a list of three potential providers is offered to the client. These providers have been specially curated based on the client’s responses to the questions as part of the initial onboarding process. The client then chooses their preferred therapist from the list of three professionals. 

All Talkspace providers are required to be licensed therapists, undergo a thorough background check, and must have at least 3,000 hours of clinical experience in order to offer services through the app, so you can be confident that you’re getting an experienced professional. If at any time you would like to switch therapists, talkspace makes it easy to do so as the client's overall wellness is the highest priority. 

In order to actually engage in a therapy chat session via text or video chat, the client simply logs into their secure, private “room” on the user-friendly system, which is available 24/7. The client is able to send text, voice, or video messages to their chosen provider at any time, and the client’s chosen provider will always respond, typically with a very fast response time. However, sometimes there may be a time lag in the response and communication is not always instantaneous unless conducted as part of a live video session. 

Is Talkspace effective?

If you’re accustomed to the idea of in-office therapy, the idea of receiving mental health services online might seem odd, and it’s natural to wonder if the service is effective. After all, anyone who has been to a therapist before knows that building a rapport with a therapist takes time and effort. Can Talkspace effectively reproduce that feeling through an online therapy platform?

Several studies have been conducted that offer insight into the effectiveness of the Talkspace program. 

One study examined the percentage of study participants that found telemedicine mental health services to be as effective or more effective than traditional therapy and the percentage of study participants that found telemedicine mental health services to be more convenient than traditional therapy. 

The results of the study concluded that 80 percent of participants found Talkspace to be as effective or more effective than traditional therapy, while 98 percent found Talkspace therapists to be more convenient than traditional therapy. 

Another study examined the percentage of study participants that experienced a clinically significant change in their mental health symptoms when using face to face therapy as compared to Talkspace therapy. After eight weeks, 44 percent of Talkspace users had experienced a clinically significant change compared to 25 percent of face to face therapy users. After three months, 59 percent of Talkspace users had experienced a clinically significant change compared to 50 percent of face to face therapy users. 

How much does Talkspace cost?

Talkspace is a subscription service that offers pricing depending on the type of therapy requested, the billing cycle (monthly, quarterly, or biannually), and the preferred services (text, video, and audio messaging or live sessions).  

Subscription plans for Talkspace are priced as follows:

  • Unlimited Messaging Therapy Plus: includes unlimited text, video, and audio messaging with responses 5 days per week and no live video sessions for $260 per month, $708 per quarter, or $1248 biannually.
  • Unlimited Messaging Therapy Premium: includes unlimited text, video, and audio messaging with responses 5 days per week and one live video session per month for $316 per month, $852 per quarter, or $1512 biannually.
  • Unlimited Messaging Therapy Ultimate: includes unlimited text, video, and audio messaging with responses 5 days per week and 4 live video sessions per month for $396 per month, $1068 per quarter, or $1896 biannually.
  • Couples Therapy: includes unlimited text, video messaging, and audio messaging with responses 5 days per week and 4 live video sessions per month for $396 per month or $1068 per quarter; biannual payments are not available.
  • Teens Therapy: includes unlimited text, video, and audio messaging with responses 5 days per week and no live video sessions for $260 per month. Quarterly and biannual payments are not available. 
  • A la carte 30 minute live video sessions are available to add on to any package for $65 per session.

The longer your subscription to Talkspace, the less you pay for monthly services. However, biannual and quarterly payments are not available for all categories, and it may be challenging for people to predict how long they will need therapy. 

As a result, some people may end up paying for more therapy services than they need, which increases the cost of the service over time, while others may choose month to month services and end up paying more despite using the service for an extended period of time. 

While the costs of Talkspace might seem expensive when considered on their own, they are a much less expensive alternative when compared to in-person therapy. In-person therapy sessions typically cost anywhere from 50 to 250 dollars per session or more, depending on where you live. 

Talkspace is covered by many different commercial health insurance plans and is also able to accept HSA and FSA accounts as payment. Talkspace is not covered under Medicare or

Medicaid, but it may be available through Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs) or behavioral health benefits from some employers. 

What are the advantages of Talkspace?

Talkspace is associated with many different advantages for people who are looking for a convenient, affordable way to access mental health care wherever they are. 

Advantages of Talkspace include:

  • Clients are able to send messages to their therapist 24 hours a day, 7 days per week. Although therapists only respond 5 days a week, the ability to write your feelings down while you’re struggling is valuable.
  • There are many different plan types available at a variety of different costs. 
  • Couples therapy is available.
  • Text messaging services make therapy accessible for people who are concerned about the stigma and shame of in person services. 
  • Talkspace requires less of a time commitment than commuting to a therapist’s office.

What are the disadvantages of Talkspace?

Although Talkspace has many advantages, there are also some downsides to the service. 

Disadvantages of Talkspace include:

  • Text messages may not be an effective therapy tool for everyone who is seeking mental health services.
  • Talkspace is not available for counseling for children under the age of 13 and is only available for teenagers between the ages of 13 and 17 with parental consent.
  • Talkspace is not appropriate for people who need therapy to fulfill a court order or disability program.
  • Talkspace’s pricing structure may still be out of reach for some patients despite being less expensive than traditional therapy.
  • Live video sessions are not included in all subscription models and are available at an additional cost. 
  • Talkspace may not be appropriate for patients with severe mental health issues like schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and personality disorders.
  • Talkspace accepts all major credit cards however does not accept pay pal or check

Summary

Talkspace represents a convenient, effective way for patients to access mental health services through online therapy without the stigma that can be attached to in person therapy. The program represents a good value for patients who need to access mental health services but cannot afford in patient services, do not have the ability to travel to in-person sessions, do not feel comfortable going to see a therapist, or just prefer the convenience of on demand therapy. 

In general, sites like Betterhelp and Talkspace offer an online therapy platform that enables clients suffering with mental health issues to access services from the comfort of their own home. 

Source:

https://www.liebertpub.com/doi/abs/10.1089/tmj.2016.0114?journalCode=tmj 

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/schizophrenia/symptoms-causes/syc-20354443 

https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/jclp.105