In 2020, Covid-19 effectively shut down many traditionally in-person services, including much of health care. But for people who were seeking or considering therapy, the growing realm of teletherapy meant that they didn’t have to face their mental health problems alone. And they still don’t. Thanks to the ever-more-sophisticated teletherapy services on the market, people both with and without insurance can access therapy on their schedules without leaving the comfort of their homes – no more rushing across town on lunch break, waiting endlessly in reception, or facing judgemental stares from passers-by.
Talkspace is one of these online therapy companies. Boasting over 1.5 million users, Talkspace has grown to offer virtual and text-based mental health services for individuals and families in all 50 states. But is it right for your needs? Should you talk to Talkspace? Our reviewers thoroughly researched and tested its services, and we’ll let you know how it stacks up against the competition.
Talkspace offers competitively priced online mental health care through convenient, easy-to-use messaging and video chat. Though lacking the transparency and guaranteed level of experienced providers available at some other companies, Talkspace provides quality psychiatry and therapy for individuals, couples, and teens.
The Innerbody Research team has spent approximately 122 hours researching and testing the services of Talkspace and its competitors. We provide our take on each aspect of Talkspace throughout this review so you can determine if it sounds right for you.
Over the past two decades, Innerbody Research has helped millions of readers make more informed decisions about staying healthy and living healthier lifestyles. We strive to inform you of your best options. Our research team purchases, tests, and compares a wide range of telehealth services like Talkspace in order to write insightful reviews and guides. Our articles are also thoroughly vetted by one or more members of our Medical Review Board for accuracy.
In our testing, we evaluated Talkspace across several fundamental areas: the quality of therapy, ease of use, cost, customer care, and privacy.
We found Talkspace provided a broad range of therapeutic approaches and licensed providers. These providers are not required to have the levels of experience mandated by other online therapy companies. As a result, you do see some providers on the site with less than a year of experience. But if this concerns you, you can easily find and switch to more experienced therapists. Our testers interfaced with a range of providers with different therapeutic approaches, and all reported positive experiences.
Talkspace’s big selling point is its intuitive interface and the ease of navigating its platform, which is compatible with both iOS and Android devices. The consistency across mobile and desktop sites – you can do everything via phone or tablet that you would from your computer – makes it easy to go back and forth, allowing you to communicate easily on the go or in in-depth virtual sessions.
It’s a good thing switching providers is easy, because the site’s matching process, while quick, needs some work. We found gender preferences, in particular, to be ignored in the matching results.
We also encountered issues signing up for the insomnia program. The “30-second assessment” the insomnia homepage promises linked directly to the therapy questionnaire, and at the end of the matching process we weren’t given the opportunity to choose the sleep therapy program. Customer service was unable to provide an answer as to how to sign up for the program.
We also had trouble adding multiple types of subscriptions to the same account (couples therapy plus individual therapy, for instance), but for most users, this won’t be a problem.
With teletherapy starting at $55 per week, Talkspace is pretty similar to its online therapy competitors, especially if you use one of its frequently available coupon codes or pay for multiple months at a time to get a discounted rate.
However, this doesn’t necessarily mean it’s as good of a value. Talkspace’s mid-range subscription, for instance, which includes one live video session per month, may actually cost more than a single visit to a traditional therapist’s office. Also, because Talkspace doesn’t bundle its therapy with psychiatry, you may pay significantly more than you would at a company like Cerebral, which offers plans combining therapy with medication management.
Talkspace also doesn’t offer financial aid, at least not until you try to cancel your subscription, and the questions by which it determines eligibility are not comprehensive, to say the least. For instance, the questionnaire doesn’t take into account whether you have loans or dependents. But since this financial aid isn’t mentioned anywhere else on its platform, it’s safe to assume not too many people apply.
But unlike BetterHelp and Cerebral, Talkspace does work with insurance. It partners with some major insurance companies to provide in-network coverage, and for others, you may be able to submit receipts for out-of-network reimbursement.
Talkspace’s mobile- and desktop-enabled platform is extremely intuitive and easy to use. When issues do arise, its customer service is entirely virtual. Rather than having a dedicated phone line, Talkspace filters all questions to its customer service team through email or text, meaning you may have to wait a few hours to get a response. We found responses took an average of 4-6 hours to arrive in our inbox, and most thoroughly addressed our questions. However, customer service was unable to tell us how to sign up for the insomnia program, nor could they clarify the specific qualifications they require of their providers.
Like several other companies in the online therapy space, Talkspace suffers from a lack of transparency. Unlike Cerebral, which clearly posts its rates on its homepage, you may not find out the cost of your Talkspace subscription until after you have already matched with a provider. This can create false expectations, and push you into a purchase you may not have fully thought through. Plus, nowhere does Talkspace advertise financial aid – until you are in the process of canceling your subscription. That lack of transparency seriously jeopardizes accessibility and retention if the company doesn’t make improvements.
Special Offer: $100 OFF Your First Month
Talkspace’s providers are held to the same standards of confidentiality as traditional therapists and psychiatrists. However, Talkspace’s priorities as a for-profit tech company sometimes raise ethical concerns about how the company uses the private information you share with your provider – and through them, Talkspace itself. Though Talkspace lets you withhold your chat history from your new provider when switching to a new one, it won’t let you delete these histories altogether, and may mine this data to improve its customer service and marketing campaigns.
Founded in 2012 by Oren and Roni Frank, Talkspace was originally designed to emulate their own success in couples therapy by offering a low-cost, convenient, stigma-free space for group therapy. Since then, Talkspace has evolved to offer message-based therapy to individuals and teens, as well as couples therapy, sleep therapy, and psychiatric services. Like its competitors – BetterHelp, Cerebral, and others – Talkspace offers convenient virtual mental health services tuned to your schedule and your needs in all 50 states, without the stigma often associated with mental health treatment. These services include:
Needs addressed by these programs include (but are not limited to):
Talkspace is distinct from its competitors in its reliance upon 24/7 messaging. All of its subscription plans allow users to message their providers anytime day or night, though providers are only expected to respond twice a day, five days a week. (Part of providers’ pay is determined by how frequently and how much they respond.) Not all subscription plans include live video sessions, so for many users, this is the extent of their interaction with their provider.
Many people will feel completely comfortable with a messaging-based experience. For some people, it’s a bit weird to type highly personal information into a text box and send it. Particularly if your therapist doesn’t respond right away, message-based therapy stretches out the time in which you open yourself up and make yourself vulnerable. It even opens up the possibility of reliving painful experiences without someone there to guide you through them. But message-based therapy can also be very useful if something arises during the week, and you need to offload some emotion ASAP.
For those who crave real-time interaction, Talkspace does offer live video sessions. These are scheduled and confirmed through the site, usually a few days in advance. Keep in mind, all of its live video sessions are only 45 minutes long. Since most in-person therapy sessions are 50 min long, Talkspace is a bit on the short side of things. If you are someone with complex issues, or if you need more time to build trust, Talkspace’s structure may be difficult for you.
Also, Talkspace may not be the best choice for you if you need both ongoing medication management and therapy. Because Talkspace doesn’t bundle subscriptions like Cerebral, seeing a therapist and a psychiatrist separately on Talkspace’s platform can get expensive. And as it doesn’t have a dedicated phone line or on-demand live video sessions, Talkspace is also not equipped to deal with mental health crises.
Talkspace is a good option, though, for people with limited availability and tight schedules. If you’re one of these people, the short therapy sessions – which can easily fit on a lunch break – may actually be a selling point for you. And because you can schedule sessions and send messages right through the app, no more waiting on the phone with your therapist’s office.
Talkspace therapy is designed for people with a wide range of mental health issues and circumstances, from everyday stressors and relationship problems to chronic mental health diagnoses. In its words, you can talk about “anything and everything.” You get a sense of this from the intake questionnaire. When it asks why you’re seeking therapy, options include (among other things):
Because Talkspace offers different levels of care, it’s well suited to different levels of need – though it doesn’t offer live sessions more than once a week.
These sessions are on the short side, only 45 min, so factor that in when you’re making decisions. This is a case where we found the messaging feature particularly useful. Because you and your therapists can send messages back and forth before your session, a lot of the normal background chit-chat – such as, “what are we going to talk about today?” – isn’t necessary. Thirty minutes might be short if you’re talking to your therapist for the first time in a month, but when your therapist already has an idea of where you stand, you can get right to the heart of the issues faster and more efficiently.
PRICE: $55-$129 per week
Talkspace offers individual therapy for adults 18 and older and for teens aged 13-17 at three subscription levels.
Insider Tip: If you find yourself enjoying Talkspace therapy but unable to afford the prices, we recommend you attempt to cancel your subscription because the company will then present you with additional savings opportunities. For more details, see our “What’s the customer experience like?” section about canceling.
These prices make sense if you’re someone who plans to rely heavily on the messaging function, or conversely, if you would normally meet with your therapist once a week. Considering that a single traditional in-person therapy session runs $100-250, the $516 subscription that gives you four live sessions per month may be a good deal – especially when you factor in convenience.
Talkspace isn’t unusual in the online therapy space for having a program specifically catered to teens, but in practice, it’s not that different from adult individual therapy. You still have the opportunity to message your therapist as much as you want, and you can still have one or four 45-min live video sessions per month depending on your plan. You can even get matched with some of the same therapists in the adult therapy program.
PRICE: $99 per week
Since providing group therapy was the original vision of Talkspace’s founders, it makes sense that this was one of the earliest programs it offered. This program only offers a single type of subscription. For $99 per week ($396 per month), you get unlimited messaging and four live video sessions with your therapist per month.
The way Talkspace is structured means that one member of the couple is the primary point of contact. Once you sign up, this person adds the other to your Talkspace room.
PRICE: $199 initial consultation, plus $125 per follow-up (and optional bundles available)
Unlike some other online therapy providers like BetterHelp and HealthSapiens, Talkspace offers psychiatric services. These services are different from therapy, in that psychiatrists can write prescriptions for you, and psychiatrists focus mainly on your medication needs, rather than counseling. So if you think you are depressed and may need antidepressants, Talkspace psychiatrists can both diagnose and treat you. However, Talkspace Psychiatry is not for people under 18.
Unlike its therapy programs, Talkspace Psychiatry exclusively relies on live video sessions. As in the brick-and-mortar world, psychiatric appointments tend to be on the pricier side. At Talkspace, you pay per session, rather than per month, so you only pay for what you need. But Talkspace Psychiatry is different from other online psychiatric companies like Cerebral, in that it doesn’t bundle psychiatric and therapeutic services. This means that Talkspace may be a more expensive option for people who require medication alongside therapy.
PRICE: $520 for 8-week program (could not be verified in our testing)
For those with difficulty sleeping, Talkspace offers an 8-week sleep therapy program.
This program is structured – and priced – very similarly to Talkspace’s “Unlimited Messaging Therapy Plus” program, where you are matched with a therapist and communicate with them via unlimited messaging.
In fact, they are so similar that when one of our testers tried to sign up, Talkspace redirected her to the intake questionnaire for therapy sessions. When she got to the billing process, it didn’t even give her the option of signing up for the insomnia program. When she contacted Talkspace about this, they were unable to provide an answer as to how to actually sign up for the insomnia program.
Unlike its other therapy programs, Talkspace Insomnia is not covered by insurance. It also doesn’t involve medication, as sleep aids can be habit-forming.
Talkspace professionals are all licensed counselors and psychiatrists. Its therapists offer a range of approaches, including cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), dialectical (DBT), eye movement desensitization and reprocessing therapy (EMDR), psychodynamic, and more. Each provider’s profile (available before you select them) lists his or her different treatment options, allowing you to choose your preferred approach.
Talkspace does vet its therapists, but its low requirements mean that there is a wide range of credentials and experience in their ranks. Talkspace asserts that its therapists average nine years of experience, but unlike BetterHelp – which requires at least three years’ counseling experience – Talkspace has no stated minimum requirements for contact hours or years of experience. This means that a large portion of your matches (around 1/3, in our experience) may have one year or less of counseling experience (although we also found providers who’ve counseled clients for twenty years). In fact, some may only have an associate license, rather than an independent license; however, these associate licensees do hold at least a master’s degree and are working toward their independent licensure.
Unlike therapy, psychiatry requires the provider to be able to diagnose and prescribe medication. Similar to its therapists, we found a wide variety of experience and qualifications in Talkspace’s psychiatrists. A large percentage of these, for instance, were nurse practitioners, rather than medical doctors. NPs are indeed licensed to prescribe medications, but they don’t have the training and board certifications most MDs do. And some states require NPs to have “collaborative agreements” with doctors in order to prescribe certain pharmaceuticals.
Talkspace prides itself on the ease of accessing and using therapy. Indeed, with the exception of the insomnia program, our testers found Talkspace therapy to be a very convenient service, from the signup process to the consultations. It used to be that Talkspace would match you with a provider after a free consultation session assessing your needs and preferences. Now, however, everything is done via an algorithm, making the process much faster and cheaper, but maybe not as customized.
Insider Tip: The process of signing up for therapy can vary slightly based on where you begin your journey with the company. If you go to the normal homepage and click on “Individual therapy,” it will ask you to create an account before taking you through the questionnaire. If you’re reluctant to give out personal information before seeing what you’re getting, go to try.talkspace.com first.
If you are signing up for psychiatric services, couples therapy, or teen therapy, you need to go to the main homepage. As described above, we were unable to complete the signup for the insomnia program.
Regardless of which program you do through Talkspace, it starts with an intake questionnaire. Signing up for therapy at Talkspace takes less than 10 minutes and begins by answering questions about your therapy background, what issues you are hoping to address, and what you are looking for in a therapist. If you only want to answer the bare minimum, you can be matched with a therapist in a couple of minutes, or you can answer a few short, additional questions about your preferences regarding your therapist’s style. This process is significantly shorter than BetterHelp and may involve a few hours’ wait time.
If you don’t have experience with therapy before, you can also choose to answer a few questions designed to give you a better sense of what to expect from therapy. Our reviewers found these questions redundant and not very helpful, since they present information about therapy as questions that you have to answer – shouldn’t you be the one asking the questions? The questionnaire for Talkspace Psychiatry is an even shorter process than signing up for therapy, asking you only about what conditions you are treating and what medications you are taking (if any).
After you fill out the questionnaire, you’ll have to submit your mailing address to see your matches and choose a provider. Talkspace’s algorithm uses your answers in the questionnaire to match you with three licensed therapists or psychiatrists in your state. You’ll be able to see information on their biography, specialties, and availability, even down to which days and times they tend to be available.
In our experience, the recommendations weren’t always spot on. One search looking for a female therapist, for instance, produced results where all of the recommendations were men, and similar gender mismatches occurred over and over again. Unlike BetterHelp, Talkspace doesn’t take into account religious preferences, though sometimes you can see religious experience in an individual provider’s bio.
If you don’t like your matches, you can click a link to run the search again and get new ones. If you still don’t like the results, you can sign up for an account and talk in a chatroom with a “matching agent.” These agents are themselves licensed therapists (ours had a master’s degree in addition to a license), but you have to sign up for a subscription before they will begin the matching process.
When signing up for therapy, you will immediately be asked to sign up for a “free” 10-minute live session with your provider. This introductory call is a nice bonus since it allows you to meet each other and establish expectations right from the get-go, even if you don’t end up signing up for a subscription with live sessions.
Once you choose a provider (or before, if you want to use one of Talkspace’s matching agents), you then have the option of choosing a subscription plan.
For individual therapy, these plans range between $65 and $99 per week (paid by credit card or HSA/FSA). For $65, you only get messaging. That is, you can access your “room” on Talkspace, where you can send text and voice messages to your provider, but you won’t be able to have any live sessions. For $79 per week, you can have one live session per month, and for $99 per week, you can get four live sessions per month. If you’re signing up for psychiatry, you will be able to choose from a single initial evaluation ($199); a bundle of an initial evaluation and one follow-up visit ($315); or a bundle of an initial evaluation and three follow-up visits ($515).
Because Talkspace is a health provider (although a for-profit one), you will need to complete a medical history and a mental health history once you sign up. We found these intake forms to be strangely incomplete. When asking if you have ever been diagnosed with a mental health condition, for instance, it doesn’t include any eating disorders among the options, and there is no place to check “none” or “other.” Similarly, the medical intake form leaves many medical conditions unrepresented. It asks if you have been diagnosed with thyroid issues, for instance, but doesn’t allow you to indicate that you have a neurological disease. Once again, there is no place to check “none” or “other.” Since these conditions may be directly related to your reasons for therapy, these omissions seem odd.
Having registered, you can log in to access your Talkspace “room.” This room is your Talkspace HQ, with a chat section to send and receive messages to your provider. You can also use this room to access your profile, change your provider or subscription, book live sessions, track your progress, and watch quick tip videos.
Even the most basic subscription will allow you to use this room to send messages to your provider anytime day or night. Messages can be via text (similar to a text message on your phone), or you can send video, image, or audio messages to your provider by uploading a file or using the built-in record button.
Talkspace used to have a “Guaranteed Response Time” message option, sending a notification to your provider and requiring them to respond to your message by a certain time. However, not only did this feature penalize providers who weren’t able to be available 24/7, but also psychologists warned that it encouraged clients to break personal and professional boundaries. As a result, Talkspace has discontinued the feature. But it still encourages its providers to check in on their clients twice a day five days a week. In our experience, this may overstate things a bit; we found some providers were very responsive, and others didn’t respond for over 24 hours.
You can schedule your live sessions with your provider anytime by logging into your room. Just click on the little movie icon, choose from your provider’s available slots, and wait for your provider to confirm the appointment. We found that most providers have available appointments 3-4 days away, but some had appointments as soon as a couple of hours away.
These sessions are very similar to Zoom, and you can join them either with or without video, depending on your comfort level. Our reviewers interfaced with multiple therapists, and all reviewers reported receiving positive, meaningful treatment. Particularly when some legwork has been done via chat beforehand, we found that 45 minutes was plenty of time to have meaningful conversations.
The only irritant we found with these sessions is that, on the desktop site, at least, you can’t see the chat after you join the live session. This means you can’t see if you receive a message from your therapist indicating that she will be late, for instance.
Talkspace has several built-in features allowing you to monitor your progress. Your room has a “clinical progress” section that allows you to track symptoms (as revealed by assessments you take every three weeks) as well as set short-term and long-term goals. On the mobile app, you also have access to free exercises, from a two-minute exercise designed to improve your focus to a five-minute one about understanding past experiences. For people who are self-motivated, these are quick, convenient ways to increase mindfulness.
Talkspace recognizes that not every one of its provider matches will be a good fit for you, and your needs may change over time. This is why they made it easy to change your subscription plan or provider directly through your account on your computer or phone. Just go to your profile (desktop) or settings (mobile), and click on “Manage subscription.” From here you will be able to change your plan or provider.
If you decide to change providers, you’ll be asked to rate your current provider and choose from several options explaining why you want to switch. Then Talkspace asks what issue(s) you want your therapist to focus on (offering a breadth of detail we wish we would have seen in the initial sign-up process). The algorithm then performs a matching process similar to the one you did when signing up, presenting you with three new providers to choose from.
Once you choose one, it’s up to you whether you want to share your chat history with your new provider. You get another free, 10-minute get-to-know-you video session, and then you’re on your way!
Canceling a subscription is very straightforward as well. Just go to “Manage subscription” again and click on “Change plan” or “Stop subscription renewal.” If you choose to cancel, Talkspace will then give you a series of offers to keep you from leaving, including $150 off your next month. You also have the option, it reminds you, to change your provider or “pause” your subscription for 30 days, or even go to a “maintenance plan” ($49/month) where your provider only responds one day per week.
If you indicate that you are canceling because of financial reasons, it is at this point that Talkspace brings up the option of financial aid. By going through a few questions (which our testers found fairly incomprehensive and reductive), you can apply for a reduced fee for your therapy. We found that the financial aid was generous, even for people with a very high income.
Talkspace prices its various services very differently, often at several different tiers of service. You can typically save money by paying in advance, either paying several months’ worth of fees ahead of time or pre-purchasing session bundles. Be sure to check at the top of your screen for discount codes, as Talkspace often offers these to new customers.
You’re allowed to book more live video sessions than your subscription allows, but you will be charged $65 per session.
There are a few ways to save money off of these baseline prices. You can save $100 off your first month by using the discount code, or you could pay for more than one month at a time. Paying for three or six months at a time can save you 10% or 20%, respectively.
This will cost you $99 per week ($396 per month) for four 45-minute video sessions.
The price for Talkspace Psychiatry is based on how many sessions you have with your psychiatrist. The basic price is $199 for an initial evaluation plus $125 for follow-up appointments. However, Talkspace does offer some bundle packages for both new and existing customers that can save you money off of the floor price.
For new clients (purchase when you sign up):
For existing Clients (purchase after initial evaluation):
Talkspace also offers a discount code giving you $50 off your first month.
Unlike some competitors, Talkspace doesn’t separate itself from insurance. Depending on your provider and your coverage, you may be able to submit Talkspace claims directly to your insurance company. To find out whether you qualify, Talkspace has a built-in tool you can use both before and after signing up to check to see whether your sessions are covered by insurance. You can find this tool by clicking “Check my coverage” on your profile or settings.
The same tool also allows you to check to see if your employer, health plan, or employee assistance program (EAP) has partnered with Talkspace to offer benefits.
If you have insurance through Premera, Cigna, Gatorcare, or Optum, Talkspace Psychiatry may be part of your benefits. Even if you don’t, though, you can always submit your claims for Talkspace Psychiatry as an out-of-network provider, which may get you 50-90% of the cost back.
Talkspace does not currently work with Medicare or Medicaid.
Unlike Talkspace, Betterhelp does not offer psychiatric services. That is, its providers only give therapy, not medications. However, Betterhelp has more personalization in its matching algorithm. It also offers weekly live sessions with every one of its subscriptions in addition to messaging, and these subscriptions run a bit cheaper than Talkspace. Of course, these subscriptions aren’t compatible with insurance, as Talkspace’s sometimes are. See our full review of Betterhelp for more information, or learn more from our full comparison of BetterHelp and Talkspace.
As the only other telehealth company discussed here that offers both therapy and psychiatric services, Cerebral is Talkspace’s most similar competitor. Unlike Talkspace, though, Cerebral bundles therapeutic and psychiatric care, offering weekly live therapy sessions in addition to medication management for $76 per week. This is much cheaper than Talkspace, though it should also be noted that Cerebral no longer works with insurance. Cerebral also offers a therapy-only subscription for $60 per week that includes weekly live sessions, which works out to a savings of $160 over Talkspace.
Cerebral also stands out among its peers for having transparent pricing. To different degrees, Talkspace and Betterhelp don’t make it easy to understand the prices of specific services. Cerebral, however, lists its prices clearly on its homepage.
Another difference between Talkspace and Cerebral is coverage. Talkspace can connect you to therapists and psychiatrists in all 50 states. Cerebral similarly offers psychiatric services throughout the country, but it only offers therapy in 37 states.
Check out our full review for more information about Cerebral.
HealthSapiens is different from Talkspace in that it offers medical care in addition to therapy, though these are separate subscription services. Unlike Talkspace, HealthSapiens doesn’t accept insurance. It also has only one type of therapy subscription, which costs $197/month and includes messaging and live sessions. For this price, you get up to eight live sessions with your therapist over six months, which works out to 1-2 per month. In terms of services, this puts HealthSapiens on par with Talkspace’s mid-range therapy subscription, which costs $100 more. HealthSapiens does have a face-to-face option, though, should you want to meet with your therapist IRL.
Our expert review shares everything about BetterHelp online counseling, from messaging and live sessions to counselor qualifications and pricing.
As online therapy gains popularity, people face a big question: BetterHelp vs Talkspace? Our 2023 analysis helps you choose.