Talkspace is a mobile (and web) based Online Therapy app which provides counselling to people experiencing a vast range of emotional distress: depression, anxiety, relationship issues, eating disorders etc. The program provides communication plans with a specific licensed therapist. However, unlike traditional psychotherapy which mostly incorporates weekly meetings, these plans are leaned on an ongoing messaging based communication between the user and the therapist. All plans include unlimited text messages to the therapist and differ in the number of daily therapist responses (1-2) and live sessions (none, once a month, 4 times a month). The program begins with an intake, in which a Talkspace representative collects some information regarding the main reasons the user seeks therapy for, and presents the user with the basics of the different plans. After selecting a desired plan, a few therapists are offered for the user to choose from. With the subscription, additional features include: messaging based peer support group moderated by a licensed therapist, tips sent by email on how to best utilize Talkspace.
Talkspace is an easy to use program, suitable for users experiencing mild to moderate emotional distress. Talkspace tries to make therapy more available, flexible and convenient to those who need it. In that aspect, the program is well designed and offers a highly available therapeutic experience. However, when reviewing a program like Talkspace, it’s important to note that an important part of the experience relies on the specific characteristics of the live therapist. In the current review – which focused on the basic plan of text messages only – although the program offered three therapists to choose from, only one of them was actually available, which eliminated the sense of selection. The therapist was friendly and accommodating, and the correspondence was professional and to the point. However, it seems that a large part of the “in-person” therapeutic relationship formed in a face-to-face therapy is very difficult to create through text messaging alone. The text based correspondence of unlimited text messages sent to the therapist vs. 1-2 messages a day in response, creates a fragmented communication. For example, one may text their therapist in the morning and get a response in the afternoon, followed by another text and another delayed response. This form of fragmented communication, which resembles letter correspondence more than therapy, might not allow an in depth personal process as the term “therapy” that is offered by the program suggest. For users inexperienced with therapy, who do not know how to approach the process and make the best out of it, this could be especially challenging.
As Talkspace offers a therapy in an online platform, it is recommended to avoid combining the program with an existing therapy.