Talkspace Brand Review

Talkspace Review: Is This Online Therapy App Right for You?

Talkspace offers online counseling for individuals, teens, and couples—find out if it's the best option for you.
By Jennifer Walker-Journey
Updated August 31, 2021
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Key takeaways

  • Talkspace is an established online therapy platform with more than 5,000 licensed therapists with background checks available.
  • Talkspace is best known as a messaging app, but live audio or video sessions are available. 
  • It's one of a few online therapy platforms that takes insurance. 
  • The platform also provides psychiatry evaluations and medication management.
  • Online therapy, in general, is probably not the best option for those with severe and complex mental health conditions or symptoms. 

Why trust our expert review?

Our experts independently research and recommend online therapy platforms we believe provide value in the lives of our readers. We've spent collectively more than 1,200 hours conducting in-depth research on online therapy. Throughout this process, we did the following:

  • Engaged in ongoing independent research
  • Consulted with independent therapists, counselors, and psychiatrists
  • Mystery shopped the brands
  • Surveyed hundreds of online therapy users
  • Tested various types of counseling services and formats for online therapy
  • Interviewed experts in the field
  • Read thousands of verified customer reviews from trusted third parties, such as Better Business Bureau and Consumer Reports

Why we chose Talkspace

Online therapy platforms are popping up left and right these days. Talkspace is one of the most popular. Founded in 2012, the platform claims to be the top-rated online therapy resource with more than one million users. It's even backed by the most decorated Olympian of all time—Michael Phelps. With all the buzz Talkspace has been generating lately—not to mention online therapy platforms in general—we thought Talkspace deserved a closer look. 

Talkspace is a top pick because it has more than 5,000 therapists with background checks available. Each has more than 3,000 hours of clinical experience and online therapy training, and some have received additional training in specific therapy approaches, such as existential-humanistic, cognitive behavioral therapy, or mindfulness

The platform offers live video and audio sessions, but it's known for its 24/7 online text and video chat experience. We chose to review Talkspace because of the company's claimed response time: Users can message their therapists anytime and are guaranteed to hear back within just 24 hours. 

Pros and cons of Talkspace 

Pros 

  • Offers a variety of therapy options, including individual, couples, and teen counseling
  • Psychiatry evaluations and medication management available
  • Licensed therapists provide real-time intake assessments via messaging rather than an automated system that other online platforms use
  • Space to leave text messages, videos, or voice messages to your therapist 24/7 with guaranteed responses daily
  • Live video or audio sessions available
  • Covered by some of the largest health insurers
  • Can switch therapists or cancel therapy subscription at any time

Cons

  • Site guarantees therapist responses daily, but some responses may be brief
  • Can take a few days to get matched with a therapist, as opposed to being matched within hours using other services
  • May not be the most cost-effective option compared to other platforms or even traditional therapy

Talkspace cost and payment options

Talkspace cost is broken down into three monthly subscription plans priced weekly and billed monthly:

Related Items

Plus Plan

VISIT SITE

Subscription details

  • Text, video, and audio messaging 
  • Guaranteed daily responses five days per week

Premium Plan

VISIT SITE

Subscription details

  • Text, video, and audio messaging
  • Guaranteed daily responses five days per week
  • One live session each month, audio or video (30 minutes each)

Ultimate Plan

VISIT SITE

Subscription details 

  • Text, video, and audio messaging 
  • Guaranteed daily responses five days per week
  • Four live sessions each month, audio or video (30 minutes each) 

Other costs 

  • Couples therapy subscriptions start at $396 per week. 
  • Psychiatry sessions require an initial evaluation fee of $199 with follow up visits priced at $125 each.  
  • Talkspace offers a 10% discount for paying quarterly and a 20% discount for paying biannually. Sign-up promotions are also available. 
  • Talkspace offers insurance coverage by some of the largest insurers including Cigna, Optum, Permera Blue Cross and Blue Shield, and Humana. The platform offers coverage plans directly through employers, educational institutions, and other large member organizations. 

Customer service and satisfaction

The Talkspace website is loaded with positive reviews and user testimonials. However, consumer watchdog sites, such as TrustPilot and the Better Business Bureau (BBB), reveal more dissatisfied Talkspace users. The platform received 1.6 stars out of a possible 5 on Trustpilot.com, with most commenters sharing their dissatisfaction about the therapy services they received. The BBB gave Talkspace 1.12 stars out of 5 based on 42 customer reviews, most of which appear to be issues with payment, insurance, and customer service. 

However, it's important to keep in mind that a major part of therapy is establishing a connection between the client and the therapist. It can take time to establish a closeness during in-person therapy and even longer when communication is primarily by messaging. 

How does Talkspace work?

Signing up for Talkspace is a relatively simple process. Users are asked to create an account using their email, password, country, and state. 

Once the email address has been verified, users will be sent to a chat room. Within a minute or two, they will be connected with a licensed professional therapist. These intake sessions are live chat sessions where users are asked a few basic questions about what type of treatment they're seeking. Once enough information is obtained, the intake therapist sends a link where the user can review the subscription options.

Therapist matching

Once payment is received, users are provided a list of licensed, accredited, and experienced therapists to choose from. If none is the right fit, the user can request more therapist options. Once the user chooses a therapist, a secure, virtual room is created for the user and therapist to communicate. This room can be accessed either from a web browser or the Talkspace mobile app. 

Messaging communication

In this space, users can send and reply to messages from their therapist 24/7. Responses are guaranteed to come daily, five days a week, after the therapist has had the opportunity to review the message. Real-time video or audio sessions are scheduled in advance. You can change your therapist or cancel the service at any time. 

Types of treatment available

Talkspace offers therapy and treatments for the following:

  • Individuals
  • Couples
  • Teens (ages 13 to 17), with parent's permission via video message
  • Psychiatry

Conditions Talkspace therapists treat include:

  • Anxiety
  • Addiction
  • Depression
  • Eating disorders
  • PTSD
  • LGBTQIA+ matters
  • Relationship problems
  • Childhood abuse
  • Mood disorders
  • Chronic illness
  • Parenting support
  • Psychiatric evaluations
  • Psychiatric prescription management

While psychiatry does provide medication management, Talkspace practitioners are unable to prescribe controlled substances.

Talkspace also offers free online mental health checkups, an online symptom tracker, and plenty of informative videos about how to use Talkspace and get the most out of your therapy experience. 

Therapist qualifications

Talkspace has more than 5,000 licensed therapists and has conducted background checks on each. Providers are trained in online therapy and required to have more than 3,000 hours of clinical experience. Some therapists have additional training in various approaches to psychotherapy. 

Ease of use: desktop versus mobile

Talkspace sign-ups and therapy sessions can be accessed through a web browser or via the Talkspace app, which is compatible with iOS and Android operating systems. The messaging process is pretty user-friendly. You can find several brief videos that demonstrate the process if you need it. 

Privacy policy

Talkspace is HIPAA compliant, which means the company has policies and procedures in place to keep information confidential, and it adheres to them. The platform also states on its website that it's devoted to safeguarding customer and employee private information and ensuring the highest level of confidentiality of its records. All communication between its software and servers, including the messaging data, is encrypted. The site also requires users to input their emails and passwords every time they access the site. 

One important note: Chat transcripts between therapists and users cannot be deleted because they are considered medical records. 

The company states on its website that it uses non-identifying and aggregate information for research and trend analysis. According to Talkspace, the company may provide data to its partners if the user's name and other personally identifying information are removed, or data might be combined with other people's data in a way that no longer personally identifies the user.

BetterHelp vs. Talkspace: Which is better?

BetterHelp and Talkspace are among the most widely used online therapy platforms. Here's how they compare:

PLATFORM SUBSCRIPTION DETAILS TREATMENT AVAILABLE AVERAGE COST ACCEPTS INSURANCE

Four live sessions per month, audio or video
(45 minutes each) 
 
Text, video, and audio messaging 
 
Guaranteed daily responses five days per week

Individual
Couples
Teen 
Psychiatry

$69/week to $129/week
or 
$276/month or $516/month

Yes

All plans include unlimited text messaging with four live text, phone, or video sessions per month

Individual
Couples
Teen 
(via ReGain platform)

$65/week to $120/week
or
$260/month to $480/month

No

Talkspace vs. traditional therapy: Which is better?

Talkspace can be more convenient than in-person therapy, allowing you to send messages whenever you want. Real-time video or audio calls don't require you to actually travel to a therapist's office like traditional in-person therapy. This is a huge advantage, especially if you live in an area with limited access to therapists. 

Talkspace live sessions vs. traditional therapy

Another point to consider is that a traditional therapist probably wouldn't guarantee daily messages or allow messaging in the first place. That makes it difficult to compare pricing between Talkspace and traditional therapy. 

One way to do this is by comparing the cost of the Talkspace live sessions with traditional therapy sessions. The Talkspace live audio or video sessions cost $99 per 45-minute session. Comparatively, traditional therapy ranges in price from $65 to $250 for a 45- to 60-minute session, depending upon where you live. However, with in-person therapy, clients usually have the option of setting up sessions every other week or once a month rather than weekly, which can make treatment more affordable. 

In-person therapy and non-verbal cues

Finally, the American Psychological Association (APA) considers in-person therapy to be the gold standard in mental health treatment. That's because the therapist and the client are better able to pick up on each other's nonverbal cues. The organization does consider real-time video or even audio sessions to be acceptable if there are no other options. But the APA does not consider text therapy alone to be an effective modality for psychotherapy. The organization also believes that messaging alone is not the best option for those living with severe mental health conditions

Talkspace reviews

How we chose our top picks

We reviewed Talkspace as a top pick for online therapy platforms based on the following criteria:

  • Price and payment options
  • Level of training and qualifications of therapists
  • Counselor matching process
  • Experience of therapy sessions
  • Ease and consistency of follow-up during or after therapy
  • Messaging response time
  • User satisfaction and verified reviews
  • Types of treatment available and areas of specialization

The bottom line

Online therapy may not be considered the gold standard by some experts, but it does benefit a lot of people. A recent review of nearly a dozen studies conducted by researchers from the University of South Australia and published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research found that, in general, online cognitive behavioral therapy sessions helped quell symptoms of anxiety and depression in study participants. 

Talkspace is mostly known for its messaging, and it's one of the only online therapy platforms we found that guarantees daily responses. This is a great option for those who have difficulty scheduling time for a traditional therapy session. Those with more complex mental health conditions can also choose a package that offers live sessions to supplement the texting service.

The platform's psychiatry option for evaluation and medication management is a unique and beneficial service not seen with many other online therapy apps, even though it requires an extra fee. And the fact that Talkspace accepts many major insurance plans is a huge plus. 

However, people who have serious mental health issues or symptoms shouldn't rely solely on message-only therapy and may benefit most from in-person treatment. If that's not an option, real-time video or audio sessions should be added in order to reap the full benefit of mental health treatment. 

Frequently asked questions

Does insurance cover Talkspace?

Yes. Talkspace accepts several major insurance providers. 

How much does it cost to use Talkspace?

A monthly subscription to Talkspace ranges in price from $276 to $516.

Is Talkspace legit?

Yes. The platform requires all its therapists to be licensed and to have at least 3,000 hours of clinical experience. Talkspace also vets and conducts background checks on all its therapists. 

What is the best online therapy app?

Talkspace can be accessed through a web browser or through the Talkspace app, available for iPhone or Android. 

Can Talkspace therapists diagnose?

An online therapist can diagnose and treat mental health conditions. Talkspace psychiatric providers can also prescribe all medication except controlled substances. 

Is Talkspace worth the money?

It depends on a person's lifestyle and needs. For those who don't have time or the means to drive to a therapist's office, an online therapy platform may be best. However, if your mental health condition is more severe or complex, it's best to undergo traditional in-person therapy, if possible.

Jennifer Walker-Journey is a lifelong writer of most anything, including travel destinations, psychedelic and prescription medicines, public health issues, and exotic foods. Her work has been featured in USA Today, HowStuffWorks, Psychedelic Spotlight, PlanetSHINE, Better Homes and Gardens, Women, Health, and Sea Island Life and Omni magazines. When she isn't writing, she runs, almost daily, toward her last best time in hopes someday she'll be foolish enough to attempt another marathon.