In the growing at-home health service industry, therapy is one of the services that seem particularly compatible with technological advances that have transformed how we live and given us powerful devices always at the ready. A consultation with a licensed therapist can happen easily via text, audio or video messaging or live video sessions, wherever you are and virtually whenever it’s convenient for you to initiate them.
Talkspace is a company that has enjoyed great success in the area of online therapy and counseling. It has been featured in many prominent publications and programs and boasts over 1 million customers. So we wanted to know, does Talkspace live up to the hype?
Our testers thoroughly explored its service and now we’ll tell you all about the pros and cons of Talkspace. Find out what you can expect and whether it’s a great fit for you.
- Works great as an app or website (whether you’re on the go or at your desk).
- Consultations with qualified, licensed therapists.
- Talkspace therapists span all mental health areas.
- You can use either daily messaging or a live video session.
- Affordable compared to traditional in-person therapy.
- Very intuitive and user-friendly, from the sign-up process to using the service itself.
- Currently offering our readers $100 off the first month of any plan.
- Best suited for people in contiguous U.S. time zones.
- Though price is very reasonable, the billing schedule is a little misleading.
- Some have complained of therapists offering only brief text responses.
We can recommend Talkspace for anyone seeking counseling in the U.S. who is comfortable opening up for quality consultation without traditional in-person interaction. We found the therapist matching process to be smooth and successful and the Talkspace service very user-friendly, convenient and professional. It was as valuable, in our judgment, as a traditional therapy session in-person, which impressed us. Our testers experienced high-quality service from therapists. If you are comfortable with a messaging experience and daily responses that are valuable but not immediate, then this is a great therapy solution for you to explore.
Talkspace offers affordable online therapy at your convenience via intuitive messaging and live video chatting.
If you're like us, you do a lot of text, voice and video messaging already. We found Talkspace to be very user-friendly, effective and affordable compared to traditional therapy experiences. And they’re offering you $100 off your first month, making it even more affordable to try.
Innerbody recently celebrated its 20-year anniversary online. Over the past two decades, we have helped tens of millions of readers make more informed decisions involving staying healthy and living healthier lifestyles.
We extensively test, experience and order from each health service we review. Our review of Talkspace is no different. We try our best to give you, our readers, an unbiased exploration of at-home health services, free of marketing jargon or gimmicks. We evaluate the service based on our adherence to quality, the latest medical evidence and health standards, and a simple question: would we buy the product or service ourselves if it weren’t part of our job, and would we recommend it to family and friends?
Additionally this review of Talkspace, like all health-related content on this website, was thoroughly vetted by one or more members of our Medical Review Board for accuracy.
Talkspace has been around since 2012, founded by a former Huffington Post blogger and his wife. The company was born of that blogger’s desire for good therapy and discovery that it’s often very difficult to find your ideal therapist. And then, when you do, it’s just as difficult to make time in our hectic lives to attend sessions. His name is Oren Frank and he’s the CEO of the company now.
So how well has he built a company that solves these problems for the growing ranks of Talkspace customers? Success has to begin with the quality of its therapists.
By all accounts, Talkspace has succeeded in attracting skilled therapists across all major areas of mental health therapy. We found the quality of their therapy to be high. It met or exceeded our expectations, which were based on the quality of traditional therapy in-person.
Maybe this is because Talkspace now has thousands of therapists in its network and holds these therapists to the following standards:
- All therapists are licensed and have been background-checked.
- Therapists must have obtained at least 3,000 hours of experience prior to joining.
- Talkspace subjects its own service to the scrutiny of a Board of Advisors, helping it to address any issues and stay tops in quality.
From our experience, these standards seem to ensure good quality with regard to therapy. Our testers interfaced with professional therapists who used different therapeutic approaches, and all experiences were positive.
We found the setup process to be refreshingly user-friendly. In some ways, this is almost as important as the quality of the therapy itself; if you’re seeking help, the last thing you want to deal with is a tricky or confusing path to reach it. Here are the steps:
Step 1: Create an account
You can do this either from the Talkspace website or by downloading the Talkspace app (compatible with iOS or Android). All you need to create your account is your email, a suitable password, and a nickname. There’s no need to use your real name at all.
Step 2: Have an introductory, free consultation session
After you create your account, you’ll be prompted to enter a private room where your free consultation begins. It’s great that this consultation is free of charge, because the agent/therapist provides you with additional information about the company and really gets to know you while also answering your questions about Talkspace. It’s a learning experience for both of you.
This therapist will want to learn about your age, location, whether you’ve engaged in prior therapy and how you feel about it, and general information about issues or challenges that are priorities for you to explore in therapy. Afterward, you can decide whether to proceed and pursue Talkspace therapy.
This consultation doesn’t have to take very long, but we recommend that you ask as many questions as you are inclined to ask. There is no limit, which is part of the beauty of this free consultation. Talkspace really wants to:
- Match you as effectively as possible to a long-term therapist.
- Help you make sure this is how you want to invest in therapy.
Step 3: Get matched with the therapist Talkspace considers ideal for you
Assuming you proceed, then based on the information your matching agent/therapist learned in the free initial consultation, combined with Talkspace’s predictive modeling program, you will be matched with a therapist. This is a therapist Talkspace determines to be ideal for providing you with ongoing therapy based on your needs and their expertise and therapeutic approaches, as well as your respective personalities.
Matching you up to a therapist is a smooth process, and we were pleased by the matching therapists that Talkspace chose for us. But keep in mind that your wait time to be matched may vary. Talkspace says members can anticipate it will take about a day to be matched with a therapist. One of our testers was matched in under an hour, and nearly all of them were matched within a day or just slightly over a day, but for one of the testers it took nearly two days.
OK, so the sign-up process is painless. What about the ongoing experience as a paying member receiving therapy?
Along with the quality of its therapists, we found that another core strength of Talkspace is its ease of use. Whether our testers were using the website or the app, the therapy interface was easy, precisely the kind of interface you’d expect from texting or video chatting with somebody (in this case, your therapist). If you’re getting used to health care experiences being troublesome and hard to navigate, you’ll breathe a sigh of relief.
Unlimited messaging with your therapist
Sometimes you go to a therapist in traditional sessions and, if you’re like us, you wonder how much they are calibrating their advice just to string you along to the next paid session. One of the nice things about Talkspace’s pay structure is that, regardless of what plan you choose, your monthly subscription includes unlimited messaging.
You can send text, audio or video messages to your therapist and expect meaningful replies that day (provided that you keep in mind their daily work schedule – see below), and you can send as many of these as you like. This messaging is included in even their lowest-cost plan.
Here’s one aspect of the therapy that we found actually surpassed what you might experience in a traditional therapy setting: the easy access to your chat history with your therapist, right at your fingertips. It’s as if you were in a traditional therapy session and had someone taking the most detailed notes ever. Accessing your chat history is basically like looking through a text thread on your smartphone.
Live video sessions with the therapist last 30 minutes, and ours felt just as valuable as a traditional in-person session with a therapist. If you’ve never done video chatting with people in the past, the first time could be a little strange, but it’s an experience the vast majority of people quickly get used to doing.
If you choose to pay for a higher-priced plan that includes live video sessions - or, for an added fee, you augment your lower-price plan with a number of live sessions of your choosing - then just be mindful that you will be using the app for those video sessions. This means using your smartphone for the video, rather than a desktop device. Some people have found themselves surprised and disappointed by that experience, preferring to use a desktop computer for video. We didn’t have any issues with it, but be forewarned.
Overall, Talkspace makes the user experience very easy, intuitive and rewarding.
Since successful therapy on Talkspace relies on good communication via messaging, it’s important to understand the rhythm of daily messages and responses. We found the daily scheduling to be very satisfying, though it’s important to understand how response times will vary based on the day and time when you send your message, the work hours of your therapist and their time zone.
In our opinion, this is the only potentially confusing aspect of the online therapy experience with Talkspace, though that is also inevitable and they do their best to be transparent and to help you plan and anticipate when you’ll be guaranteed a meaningful reply. It’s only important that you understand the schedule and how the guaranteed times work.
So first, let’s examine therapist workdays and availability. Your therapist will have a schedule that he or she agrees to adhere to.
- They will work 5 days per week.
- They will be available either during morning or evening response periods.
What are morning versus evening response periods, you ask? Good question. Below are the details.
IMPORTANT NOTE: Keep in mind that these times are in your therapist’s time zone.
Morning response times (based on your therapist's time zone):
- Sending your message from 7:00am - 11:00am: your therapist responds by 3:00pm.
- Sending your message from 11:00am - 4:00pm: your therapist responds by 7:00pm.
- Sending your message from 4:00pm - 7:00am (the following morning): your therapist responds by 10:00am.
Evening response times (based on your therapist's time zone):
- Sending your message from 9:00am - 2:00pm: your therapist responds by 6:00pm.
- Sending your message from 2:00pm - 7:00pm: your therapist responds by 10:00pm.
- Sending your message from 7:00pm - 9:00am (the following morning): your therapist responds by 2:00pm.
What if your therapist doesn't reply?
If you discover that your therapist has missed several response windows to reply to your message, you will need to inform Talkspace and, assuming this is what you desire, aim to get a different therapist assigned to you. We never had this problem, but it is something others have complained about in the past.
Talkspace offers three standard pricing plans, based on the amount of live session time you feel you’ll want (ranging from none at all to four live sessions per month). And for an additional $65 per session, you can add more live sessions to any plan.
Unlimited Messaging Therapy Plus: $65 per week (amounting to $260/month), though deals often emerge so you should check the current price here. This includes unlimited text, audio and video messages for correspondence with your therapist. The therapist will be available for daily responses five days per week and based on the aforementioned response times. No live sessions included.
Unlimited Messaging Therapy Premium: $79 per week (amounting to $316/month). In this plan, you get all of the same unlimited messaging as in the Plus plan, but also you will enjoy one 30-minute live video session per month.
LiveTalk Therapy Ultimate: $99 per week (amounting to $396/month). With the largest standard plan, you get all of the same daily messaging access, plus four half-hour live video sessions per month.
Just remember: Even though pricing may be described in weekly increments, billing is organized monthly which means that if you cancel mid-month, you are billed for the entirety of the month. Talkspace could improve how it explains its pricing, to avoid confusion and frustration down the road among customers who decide they need to cancel service at some point.
Despite this, honestly the value from the service very much justifies the price. Considering the professional therapy available so conveniently, the cost of Talkspace feels like a bargain. Your choice boils down to whether you want live sessions and, if so, how many per month. Traditional therapy is by no means cheap.
Talkspace offers a Couples Therapy program for $99 per week ($396/month, but check for current deals here), which includes unlimited messaging and a dedicated therapist who will work with both of you to overcome issues. Also available is a special Talkspace for Teens program, aimed at helping teenagers through the unique challenges facing them, at a rate of $65 per week.
A variety of health plans work with Talkspace to through employee assistance programs (EAPs), so you should consult your employer or call your insurance provider to see if you’re covered in this way.
As you explore online therapy options, you’re very likely to encounter this growing rivalry.
Many Americans have preferences between Talkspace and BetterHelp, and it’s not too hard to understand why; while they both provide high-quality online therapy and there are similarities, the two companies differ in some fundamental ways, such as:
Talkspace bills on a monthly schedule at minimum, while BetterHelp allows week-to-week billing and offers a weeklong free trial. Both offer significant discounts for your first month of a subscription, though these are structured differently. They also differ in terms of insurance coverage.
Messaging vs. live sessions
Talkspace and BetterHelp differ in the amount of emphasis they place on live sessions. BetterHelp’s plans always include live session opportunity, while Talkspace includes live sessions to different degrees in its pricier plans.
Both providers can connect you with psychiatrists, but only Talkspace offers full psychiatric service. This is not going to be the same as a therapy session and is more expensive, but it provides an opportunity to work with a psychiatrist to access prescription psychiatric medications from home.
Therapist matching options
Talkspace and BetterHelp differ in how they initially match you to a therapist when you begin service. Talkspace uses a conversation with an actual therapist in order to match you, whereas BetterHelp by default uses a proprietary algorithm to match you based on the information you provide. There is also an additional way to have control over your match with BetterHelp.
This is just a brief summary of major differences. In fact, so many of our readers wonder how these two online therapy giants compare with each other that we have dedicated an entire page to analyzing the differences in order to help you choose. Visit our BetterHelp vs Talkspace page for more information.
At Innerbody, we customize our evaluation criteria depending on the type and nature of the health-related service. For Talkspace and other health services and products, we have five areas that we use for our evaluations, including:
Quality: How well does the company deliver its core service(s) to the customer? For testing services, does the company adhere to the latest and most advanced testing technologies and achieve a very high degree of accuracy? For non-testing health services, is the quality of the service high enough that we would recommend it to loved ones without hesitation? If not, why not?
User-friendly: How intuitive and user-friendly is the service? Does the device/program/app/website achieve a good degree of user-friendliness for its customers?
Value: Are you getting your money’s worth? Are there any hidden costs or charges? Does the company offer discounts?
Privacy: If health data is stored, will your data be stored securely? Are payments secure?
Customer support: Particularly in situations where ‘one size fits all’ doesn’t make sense, how well does the company help to make the service ideal for you?