Talkspace tries very hard to offer a good value and to make the most of the online therapy model they’ve chosen, but in my testing, they continue to fall short. It’s frustrating, because I want them to succeed and believe in what they’re trying to do. After four years of tracking them, I have learned a lot. In this article, I’ll review their pros and cons and give you my tricks for the best ways to work around their weaknesses.
OpenCounseling is user-supported. We should note that Talkspace and BetterHelp are affiliate partners of OpenCounseling and we earn a commission if you subscribe to them after following a link from this site. We never accept gifts and pay for all our subscriptions out of our own pocket. You can learn more about our policies regarding affiliates here.
October 2021 Update:My in-depth review ofBetterHelp and Talkspaceconfirms that my impression of Talkspace’s troubles are widespread. In the article I explain why Talkspace has faced so much backlash from both end users and therapists.Read it here.
Talkspace can be wonderful if all goes right, or absolutely terrible otherwise. For me, this leav...
Ease of Use:
$556 per month to message your therapist with four 45 minute live sessions per month
Talkspace also offers these options:
$436 per month for four 45-minute sessions a month with no messaging.
$276 per month to message your therapist with no live sessions.
Talkspace can be wonderful if all goes right, or absolutely terrible otherwise. For me, this leaves too much to chance and with something as important as your mental health.
On This Page
- Trouble Right Out of the Gate
- Talkspace’s Therapist Matching Process
- How to Change Therapists on Talkspace
- My Recommended Way of Finding the RIGHT Therapist on Talkspace
- What Therapy Is Like on Talkspace
- Running into Technical Problems on Talkspace
- Which Talkspace Plan Should I Choose?
Trouble Right Out of the Gate
None of the online therapy providers that I’ve tried do a great job matching you with a therapist, and Talkspace is no exception. Their sign-up process is a perfect example of how their website works in general. Some aspects of it are fantastic, but it ends up falling short of what it could be.
I really like that when you sign up with Talkspace, you’re messaging with a real mental health professional in real time. This is no impersonal survey. You tell them your problem and feel them sympathizing and connecting with you. At least I did, pretty much every time I signed up.
Each time, I found that the therapists or mental health workers I chatted with could answer any questions I had about Talkspace and how it worked. Sure, some of their answers were scripted, but not all of them were. They could properly answer the questions they didn’t have scripts for, too, and their responses felt that much more personal and specific to me.
So far, so good. Getting a good therapist match has been shown to be vital in improving your odds of success at therapy, and I had great hopes that the live intake process on Talkspace would make it easier for them to match me with the right therapist. I thought they would listen to what I was looking for and find it for me. Unfortunately, the actual matching process didn’t work that well. It felt impersonal and automated, as if the intake worker couldn’t apply what I was telling them about my preferences
Talkspace’s Therapist Matching Process
In the end, I was able to find a good therapist on Talkspace on my own. After I found the right person, I had a very good experience with the site. But it took a lot of effort, and I’m not sure that most people have the time or patience to keep pushing for the right match like I did.
When I signed up for Talkspace, I had a specific idea of what I was looking for. I have been in therapy several times in my life and know what I like and don’t like. I didn’t make this a mystery for the Talkspace team to figure out—I explicitly told my intake counselor what kind of approach I wanted my therapist to have.
However, the intake counselor seemed to ignore my explicit requests. The first three therapists she showed me did not have the expertise I requested. When I pointed this out to the intake counselor, she offered me one alternative who seemed to be a little closer to what I asked for, but I sensed the lack of effort on their behalf. Not wanting to be a pest, I accepted this therapist, hoping the slightly better match would be just good enough, even though myintuitiontold me she wasn’t a good match.
Not surprisingly, I was disappointed after my first session with her. My gut feeling was right, and as I expected, we weren’t a good match. After that first session (which took five days of my subscription time to arrange), I requested to change therapists. I was hopeful that it would be easier to find the right therapist by navigating this process on my own.
How to Change Therapists on Talkspace
The process of switching therapists on Talkspace is frustrating and not as good as it should be. When you try to change your therapist, the computer system shows you three profiles at a time to review and choose from. You can refresh to generate three new therapist profiles at a time. In theory, this should help you make a list of potential matches pretty quickly.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t quite work this way. The therapist bios are so minimal that I could not get a good feel for whether a therapist was a good match by reading them. This was true even for someone like me, a therapist who knows a lot about how therapy works. I can’t imagine that most people would be able to get the information they need to choose the right therapist through this process.
At OpenCounseling, we believe thatintuition is importantin choosing a therapist. Talkspace hamstrings this process so badly it makes choosing a therapist feel more like throwing darts. Choose a therapist, wait a few days for an appointment, then see if your educated guess based on limited information was correct. If it isn’t, start the process over again and throw another dart.
If you’re lucky, your dart hits the mark eventually, but I found a lot of time was wasted in this process. I hope that Talkspace is listening and finds a way to improve how choosing a therapist works on their site. Because if you do find a good match, you can have a really good experience on Talkspace. But if you don’t find a good match, the result is poor therapy. I fear that many people may end up settling for poor therapy or give up and drop out altogether. I know I felt the desire to give up many times.
My Recommended Way of Finding the RIGHT Therapist on Talkspace
Based on my multiple experiences signing up on Talkspace, I can confidently say that it’s possible to find a therapist who’s a great match on their platform. I’d even say there’s something of a science to it. I want to share my method with you soyoucan have the best possible experience with their platform. I recommend following these specific steps:
- Go to theTalkspace websiteor download and open the app.
- Start the intake process.
- Get to the point in the intake process where you are shown three different therapists to choose from.
- Try to get as much information as you can from the therapists’ profiles. You can read our article onchoosing a therapistto learn more about what you should be looking for.
- If you need more information to make your decision, look for it. The descriptions on Talkspace are minimal and can make it hard to get a feel for the therapists. It can help to Google the therapists’ names to see if you can learn more about them from their official websites or from other sources.
- If the first three therapists shown to you are not a good fit, ask to see more profiles. The intake coordinator will give you one additional option at a time.
- When you find a therapist who feels like a good match, choose them.
- Start doing therapy with your new therapist. If it goes well, and you feel like it’s a good match, you’re done.
- If the match isn’t good, and you don’t feel like you’re getting much out of your time with your therapist, navigate to the menu that gives you the option to try a different therapist.
- When you request a new therapist, the site will once again show you three options at a time. Repeat the above steps with your new options, including using Google to find more information about the therapists Talkspace shows you.
- If you find someone new who seems like a good match, choose them and start therapy with them.
- Repeat this process as needed until you’ve found a good match and are having a good experience with your new therapist on Talkspace.
This may sound like a lot, because it is, but I promise you it’s worth it. I hope Talkspace listens and makes this process easier. But even if they don’t, itispossible to find a therapist who’s a good match on Talkspace, which is the key to success with their platform.
What Therapy Is Like on Talkspace
The good news is that once I did find a therapist who was a good match, I had a good experience working with her on Talkspace. The platform did a good job keeping us connected and giving me a private and confidential way of communicating with her. I could send text or audio messages whenever I liked. I enjoyed my time with her and found her empathy and insights very helpful.
In the post-COVID world, talking to my therapist this way felt completely familiar and normal. To be honest, sometimes it felt like it would be just plain backward to ever see a therapist in person again. When therapy apps do their job right, the actual app falls into the background and it’s just you and your therapist doing therapy together. With Talkspace, when things went right, they were excellent.
In addition to messaging, my Talkspace plan offered live sessions, which were key to my personal experience on the site. I and the rest of the OpenCounseling team have shared our strong opinion and warning that messaging services alone aren’t therapy. The American Psychological Association (APA) still seems toagree with our sentiment.They say, “At thispoint, there is no research suggesting that texting alone is an effective modality for psychotherapy.”
We’re a little less cagey about it at OpenCounseling and do have an official position on this. We think texting alone falls short of being equivalent to traditional therapy and honestly would be surprised if any evidence came out showing that it was. With that in mind, I strongly recommend you get a plan with live video sessions – the more the better.
Therapist Chat Window (Mobile)
Running into Technical Problems on Talkspace
Getting live sessions was an important part of my Talkspace experience, but it was also the part of my experience where I ran into the most technical problems.
I had a hard time when I tried to schedule a live session from the Android app or the Chrome desktop browser. Unfortunately, technical support could not resolve this issue for me (I wasted several days of my subscription time just waiting to get the technical issue unsuccessfully resolved). User reviews for Talkspace on the Google app store seem to reflect that this problem is widespread.
However, scheduling a session on the iPhone app worked perfectly for me. I pulled my old iPhone 4 from the drawer and could suddenly schedule a session. I know that in the past, Talkspace has supported iOS far more than they’ve supported Android, and it still seems the developers prioritize iOS. So, if you have the option, I recommend using the iPhone app.
Which Talkspace Plan Should I Choose?
Talkspace offers three types of plans, and each plan offers different features and has a different price. Here’s a screenshot of their current plans and prices:
Talkspace’s Pricing October 2021
Talkspace will discount your fees 10% if you subscribe for a 3 month period, or 20% if you subscribe for a 6 month period. For us this seemed like a huge gamble. We would not recommend choosing this option unless you had already settled in with a therapist and were certain you were going to see them long term.
If you want something that approaches the level of care provided by in-person therapy, you must choose Talkspace’s $109-per-week ($436-per-month) plan. This plan includes four 45-minute live video sessions per month. And while it’s true that experienced therapists in the most expensive cities sometimes charge more, your average therapist will see you for about$60 to $120per 50-minute session. This is to say Talkspace charges similarly to seeing an in-person therapist.
They do offer a cheaper messaging plan. As I’ve already stated, I think that messaging alone doesn’t quite meet the bar to be called therapy, but it can be useful if you need help with a specific problem and don’t quite need the full level of care that therapy offers. I personally don’t recommend that you choose either of these basic plans if you have anything but the most minor of issues that you are trying to overcome.
In conclusion, it’s hard to justify Talkspace in terms of cost. That doesn’t mean you should never choose them. You may be attracted to the all-in-one platform that Talkspace offers and the ability to message your therapist when you’re in the situations where you need help the most. If you’re the sort of person who sees yourself wanting to message a lot with your therapist, Talkspace may be the right option. Ultimately, you have to think about what you want and decide if Talkspace makes sense in your particular use case.
In some ways, Talkspace is its own worst enemy. Time and again, it tries to be more than it is and falls short. It doesn’t do a good job matching you with the right therapist. You get your best result if you spend a lot of time researching your options and choosing your therapist manually. There are some technical issues with certain site features if you use an Android phone or a web browser instead of an iPhone. Talkspace de-emphasizes live sessions and charges a high fee for them, making it compare poorly in cost to traditional therapy.
I have spent many hours over the past four years using Talkspace and tracking its development as a company. In my research, I’ve looked through hundreds of app store reviews for Talkspace. I’ve noticed a trend where most of the reviews are either five-star or one-star reviews. This affirms my personal experience: the site can give you a top-notch experience if everything goes perfectly well, but it can be a total flop if even just one thing goes wrong.
In conclusion,Talkspacecomes close to being a great experience, but it is held back unnecessarily by many of the decisions the site’s developers have made. Talkspace tries very hard to make the most out of its online therapy platform, but continually falls short of its promise. In the end, Talkspace’s limitations make it harder, not easier, to develop a good therapist-client relationship. It doesn’t have to be this way. I believe that Talkspace can be better than it currently is and hold out hope that there will come a time that I can wholeheartedly recommend it. In the meantime, our top pick for online therapy remainsBetterHelp.
6/5/2021: Initial publication
7/10/2021: Pricing updates
9/2/2021: Pricing updates
10/26/2021: Pricing updates and link to updated comparison article.
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Founder and CEO
Mark Pines is the Founder of OpenCounseling. He is a California Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and has devoted his life to making therapy accessible to all.
Talkspace tries very hard to offer a good value and to make the most of the online therapy model they've chosen, but in my testing, they continue to fall short. It's frustrating, because I want them to succeed and believe in what they're trying to do.What is the controversy with Talkspace? ›
The lawsuit says that the design and language Talkspace uses during the checkout process tricks users into signing up for recurring payments. The app makes one vague reference to “subscribing” in grayed-out text early in the sign-up process, but there's no reference to recurring payments on the checkout page.Does Talkspace have good reviews? ›
Eighty-two percent of surveyed users said they were likely or very likely to recommend Talkspace to a friend, compared to 71% of users across all companies. I would agree with the users we surveyed: Talkspace is a great option for online therapy.What is the BetterHelp controversy? ›
The FTC says the company doubled down on deception by falsely denying it had shared consumers' personal information – including their health information – with third parties. The eight-count complaint details how the FTC says BetterHelp's allegedly deceptive and unfair practices harmed consumers.How often do Talkspace therapists respond? ›
Talkspace therapists are available five days a week. Response time from counselors is similar to other platforms. In general, users can expect a response from their counselor within four to six hours of sending a message. This policy is in effect twice a day, five days a week and does not include live sessions.Is Talkspace being sued? ›
Talkspace class action lawsuit overview:
Who: Plaintiff Naomi Weizman has filed a class action lawsuit against Talkspace Inc. Why: Talkspace allegedly accepts new patients even when it has insufficient therapists to meet their mental health care needs.
Log into your account on www.talkspace.com. Click on your nickname located on the top left corner of the screen. From the dropdown, select View payment and plan. On the Payment and plan page, click on Cancel plan and follow the prompts.Can Talkspace prescribe Xanax? ›
Note: Talkspace does not prescribe stimulants (Adderall, Ritalin, Concerta, Vyvanse), sedatives (Xanax, Valium, Klonopin), or any controlled substances.Is BetterHelp or Talkspace better to work for? ›
BetterHelp therapists are better paid and happier than therapists on Talkspace. I believe that these happier therapists offer a better service to their clients.Is Talkspace good for ADHD? ›
Talkspace therapists have exceptional knowledge about the various types of therapy for ADHD that will help you or a loved one manage.
The class actions follow BetterHelp's $7.8 million payment to the FTC to settle claims that BetterHelp violated Section 5 of the Federal Trade Commission Act by revealing sensitive consumer data, including mental health information, to social media companies for targeted advertising.Is there a lawsuit against BetterHelp? ›
BetterHelp Class Action Lawsuit Follows FTC Settlement for Privacy Violations. Online therapy company BetterHelp faces a Milberg class action lawsuit for allegedly disclosing the private information of its customers to third party advertisers such as Facebook and Snapchat.Why not to use BetterHelp? ›
However, BetterHelp should not be used if you're in immediate danger or need critical mental health services. If you need immediate assistance in the event of a mental health emergency — if you're thinking about harming yourself or someone else — call 911 or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 988.Do therapists think about their clients after sessions? ›
She may even reconsider an opinion she had or an intervention she made during a session. I can say that I often think of my patients when something we had discussed comes up again and reminds me of them or when I suddenly realize themes are evolving in our work.Does my therapist think about me between sessions? ›
Clients often wonder if their therapists think about them outside of session. The short answer is, yes. When we see something that may benefit you, we make a mental note of it to share with you later. This can literally be anything.How many people return to therapy after first session? ›
Studies show that 20-57% of individuals do not return to therapy after their initial appointment. There are various reasons for this, and for premature dropout rate in general.How safe is Talkspace? ›
At Talkspace, privacy and safety are our #1 priority. We deploy a variety of techniques to ensure that you and your personal information are always kept safe and confidential. Our technology is fully compliant with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).Can Talkspace diagnose you? ›
Talkspace and BetterHelp can't diagnose mental health conditions. At this time, BetterHelp cannot prescribe medication. Talkspace offers a psychiatry plan that can include certain prescription medications.Can Talkspace diagnose anxiety? ›
Talkspace offers free anxiety tests to help give you a better understanding of your anxiety symptoms, however for a clinical diagnosis you will need to see a licensed therapist or primary care provider for a mental health evaluation.