Talkspace Online Therapy Review

Access mental health support via app-enabled messaging, live sessions, and workshops.

Talkspace

Talkspace

As one of the originators of app-based therapy, Talkspace is a solid option for teens and adults seeking virtual mental health support. That support can take many forms: individual therapy, couples counseling, psychiatry, and even therapist-crafted workshops. The app gives you the freedom to communicate how you want to, with messaging, chat, video, and audio options. And by making it simple to switch therapists, the app also helps mitigate two of the biggest challenges with getting high-quality therapy at Talkspace: Retention problems and sky-high caseloads.

Key Facts

  • Price: $276 - $516 monthly
  • Is Insurance Accepted?: Yes
  • Type Of Therapy: Couples Therapy, Individual Therapy, Medication Management, Psychiatry, Teen Counseling
  • Communication Options: Audio, Live Chat, Messaging, Phone, Video Chat
  • HIPAA Compliant?: N/A
  • Is There an App?: Yes

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • All therapists are licensed 
  • Choice of live chat, audio, or video sessions
  • Can pay for extra sessions a la carte 
  • App makes scheduling easy
  • Accepts some insurance
  • Offers therapist-led workshops
  • Provides psychiatry and medication management 
  • Available in all 50 states
  • Simple to switch therapists 
  • Easy to message your therapist

Cons

  • Self-pay users have 30-minute sessions
  • Cannot choose your provider 
  • Message responses can feel impersonal
  • No sliding scale
  • No group or family therapy
  • No caseload caps means some therapists are overworked
  • Must enter personal information to see plan options 

When Talkspace burst onto the scene more than a decade ago, it disrupted traditional mental health treatment by offering app-enabled access to licensed therapists. At the time, the flexibility to talk to mental health professionals via messaging, video, audio, and chat was like virtually nothing else on the market. But what was innovative then is more commonplace now. Scores of competitors and several high-profile controversies warrant a fresh assessment of where this company stands today and whether its services are worth it for modern consumers.

To find out, we researched the company, surveyed 105 users, interviewed a longtime Talkspace therapist, and sent Talkspace a detailed questionnaire about its services. I also spent a month as a client, exploring all of the facets of Talkspace from the inside and compiling a detailed appraisal of the company.

What Is Talkspace?

Inspired by their own transformative experience in couples therapy, Oren and Roni Frank founded Talkspace in 2012 to make therapy available and affordable to the masses. From the beginning, Talkspace has pushed the envelope of what therapy can be—and courted controversy. 

Talkspace is best known for its hallmark offering: messaging therapy. With it, users can chat with their therapist 24/7, with guaranteed responses five days a week. While some users love the casual convenience of the chat function, some professionals are wary about whether it’s comparable to more traditional forms of therapy. 

Talkspace continues to tweak its offerings, and some features have changed since we reviewed it last year. In the past, messaging therapy included text, audio, and video messaging. Now only text, audio, and an option to send PDFs are available. Talkspace has also expanded session length from  30 minutes to 45 minutes for some users. Plus, Talkspace now offers live and on-demand therapist-led workshops for its highest membership tier.

Despite repeated scandals—including allegations of privacy concerns, reports of fake reviews, the resignation of COO Mark Hirschhorn following an internal conduct investigation, and ongoing litigation over a securities fraud class-action suit—Talkspace remains a major player in the online therapy space. More than two million people have used its services, which are now available in all 50 states to people aged 13 and up. 

What Does Talkspace Offer?

Talkspace offers four main therapy services:

  • Couples counseling
  • Individual therapy for adults
  • Individual therapy for teens
  • Psychiatry and medication management 

Its therapists provide support using many treatment modalities: 

  • Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)
  • Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) 
  • Emotionally focused therapy (EFT)
  • Exposure therapy
  • Grief counseling
  • Humanistic therapy
  • Mentalization therapy
  • Psychodynamic therapy
  • Somatic therapy
  • Talk therapy

According to subject matter expert Nic Hardy, PhD, LCSW, these represent the major treatment modalities. “Collectively, they can cover a wide span of issues and can help individuals to get support in an effective and suitable manner,” he says.

Who Is Talkspace For? 

The website says its providers can help people struggling with a variety of issues, including: 

  • Depression
  • Relationship issues
  • Chronic illness
  • Anxiety
  • Stress
  • Parenting concerns
  • LBTQIA+ issues
  • Chronic illness
  • Eating disorders
  • Anger management
  • Childhood abuse
  • Mood disorders
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder
  • Trauma and grief
  • Substance abuse
  • Family conflict 

How Much Does Talkspace Cost?

Talkspace uses a membership model, and you can select from three plans. Each requires that you pay upfront for four weeks at a time; there is no option to prorate your membership. Talkspace told us that rates for these memberships vary depending on where you live and the network of therapists available in your area. Even though the prices are variable, Talkspace said it does not participate in surge pricing, unlike rival BetterHelp. 

Prices at Talkspace start at: 

  • $276 every four weeks for messaging therapy
  • $396 every four weeks for live and messaging therapy
  • $516 every four weeks for live and messaging therapy and workshops

Messaging therapy (included in all three plans) allows you to message your therapist 24/7. However, your therapist is only guaranteed to respond once daily, five days a week. 

Plans with live therapy enable you to schedule four sessions every four weeks. You can choose three formats: chat, audio, or video. If you self-pay, you will have 30-minute sessions. If you use insurance or workplace partnerships, you may have 45-minute sessions. Workshops are therapist-led Zoom presentations. Five to six are offered live each week, along with a handful of rotating pre-recorded classes. 

Talkspace

Talkspace

Talkspace’s cost may be a barrier for the typical American—according to census data, the average household income was $70,784 in 2021. A year of Talkspace membership at the highest plan rate is equivalent to just over 8% of the annual income of the average household. This may be why only 58% of users we surveyed said Talkspace was affordable. Although it may be costly, 76% believed it was good value for money.

Talkspace

Talkspace

Additional Sessions

You can book additional live sessions for a fee. For me, a self-pay user in Minnesota, the fee was $65 for a 30-minute live session. The ability to purchase additional sessions is an excellent option for users looking for more live support and isn’t always possible at other online therapy companies, like rival BetterHelp.

Talkspace

Talkspace

Psychiatry

The costs for psychiatry at Talkspace are:

  • $249 for an initial 60-minute evaluation
  • $365 for an initial evaluation and one follow-up session
  • $565 for an initial 60-minute evaluation and three follow-up sessions 
  • $125 for additional sessions

Does Talkspace Take Insurance? 

Talkspace accepts insurance, something that sets it apart from competitors like BetterHelp. But when I went to see whether Talkspace accepted mine, I found the insurance information at the bottom of the homepage in the footer under “useful links” and then all the way at the bottom of that page under an FAQ.  

Talkspace

Talkspace


I saw a few names I recognized, but when I looked at the full partner list, I didn’t find many more. Most partners are workplaces. More confusingly, when I searched to confirm that the big names listed in the FAQ were on the list of accepted insurance plans, a number of them returned no results, including Blue Cross Blue Shield. As a result, I felt uncertain about which insurance plans Talkspace currently accepts. 

Talkspace

Talkspace

Some online therapy providers, like MDLIVE and Amwell, accept many insurance providers, just as you’d expect in any healthcare setting, but Talkspace isn’t there yet. 

Does Talkspace Offer Discounts? 

Talkspace regularly offers discounts for your first four weeks. Every time I’ve landed on the Talkspace homepage, I’ve seen a discount code in a navy blue banner at the top.

When I looked on Talkspace’s special page for veterans, I noticed a different special offer on display, amounting to 30% off the first three months, a better discount than that given to the general public.

Navigating Talkspace’s Website

When you arrive at the Talkspace website, you’ll see a silent looping video of a young white woman talking into her phone and smiling. She seems grounded and in control, like someone I’d want to be. Those vibes paired with the banner proclaiming a special offer code made me feel like it might be a good time to try Talkspace. 

Talkspace

Talkspace

The website has a clean, modern feel with an easy-to-read, high-contrast font. You can navigate by scrolling down the homepage or clicking on the menus. When you scroll down, you’ll find a clear, three-step infographic outlining the process for getting started. 

Talkspace

Talkspace

At the very bottom of the page are links to several interesting pages. Most helpful is Talkspace’s blog and a resource called a mental health resource library. The library has a list of mental health conditions. When you click on either of these, a new window opens for Talkspace’s mental health conditions landing page, which has links to great resources about mental health issues, free assessments you can take online, and the Talkspace blog. Unlike the rest of the website, there’s a search bar at the top, making it easy to find what you seek. Like 77% of the Talkspace users we surveyed, I thought these resources were quite helpful. 

Talkspace

Talkspace

The website does a good job of funneling you to sign up, but a less commendable job of making sure you’re informed before you do it. I counted 12 sign-up buttons on the homepage. Finding information about the price, on the other hand, is not easy, which gives the impression it isn’t information Talkspace wants its potential clients to know. Likewise, information about therapists is shoved in the footer under “useful links.” Finding information is made more complex because of the absence of search functionality. Frankly, the ratio of sign-up buttons to critical information made me uneasy as a person seeking care. The website gets the job done, however, and 82% of Talkspace users said it was easy or very easy to navigate. 

Social Media

Talkspace maintains social media accounts on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, TikTok, and Pinterest. Of these, its largest audience is on Instagram, where Talkspace has 153,000 followers. Posts are mainly educational, covering timely mental health issues and coping strategies. The week of Halloween, for example, Talkspace posted content about the difference between fear and phobia and shared tips for a stigma-free Halloween. 

Engagement is limited, and most of the comments I could see were spam or complaints about the company. It struck me as strange that these comments were left up, and the overall picture didn’t inspire trust in the company.

Does Talkspace Have an App? 

Yes, Talkspace has an app where you can message your therapist and access the site’s resources. You can also schedule live therapy sessions and have live video and audio sessions with your therapist via the app. The app is downloadable on Android and iOS devices.

Signing Up for Therapy at Talkspace

You'll enter a sign-up sequence when you click on one of the 12 “get started” or “get matched” buttons on the homepage. To begin, you’ll answer a series of questions related to the support you need, including the issues you want help with, your sleep habits, your physical health, and the type of therapy you would like.

Talkspace

Talkspace

Then, you’ll share your gender by selecting one of eight options, including genderqueer, nonbinary, and transgender male and female. You’ll also be able to state a preference for your provider’s gender. 

Talkspace

Talkspace

Then you’ll share your date of birth and state of residence. After an encouraging message, you’ll need to share your email. 

Talkspace

Talkspace

After you’ve entered all this personal information—and before you’re able to see any therapist information—you’ll provide payment information and select your plan. 

Talkspace

Talkspace

Once you’ve checked out and authorized your card, you’ll be able to create an account via a verification email. At that point, you’ll provide any psychiatric and medical history you’d like to share. After that, you’ll end up in your new Talkspace dashboard. It’s an easy-to-navigate space that will feel familiar to anyone who has used social media. When I arrived, I could see that I was waiting to be matched and could check out sections with my personal information, payment, login and security, and intro videos. 

It’s important to note that you must provide personal information before your prices are revealed, and you have to authorize payment before learning who your therapist will be. These factors may have contributed to the fact that only 52% of users said they felt they fully understood the terms of service before signing up.

Talkspace

Talkspace

Matching With a Therapist

Matching at Talkspace is a quick process. Less than two hours after I signed up, I received a cheery email announcing I had been matched. 

Talkspace

Talkspace

While some users we surveyed said they chose their therapist from a provided list, as did one of our editors that previously tested the service, I was initially matched with a single therapist. Perhaps this means that the company has recently changed how it matches users to therapists. I admit, I was surprised to have no real say in the matter, but the prospect of an algorithmic match was alluring. I wondered whether the software was more capable of picking a good therapist for me than I was.

When I logged into my account, I could see my new therapist’s photo, bio, time zone, license, focus, and years in practice. In my experience as a client, I’ve sometimes simply had to accept whichever therapist had the first opening. Matching felt similar—and in some ways better. For example, I appreciated having as much or more information as I’d expect to know about a prospective therapist at a brick-and-mortar practice. However, the lack of choice may be frustrating for people who want therapists with certain backgrounds due to their own ethnic or minority status. 

Scheduling

You can book four sessions in formats of your choosing every four weeks if your plan includes live sessions. When you schedule, you’ll be able to select the format you’d like to use: video, audio, or chat. The length of each session is determined by your plan; Self-pay users have 30-minute sessions, while people using insurance have 45-minute sessions. There are no other restrictions other than your therapist’s schedule. You could book sessions weekly, stack them for one longer session biweekly, or use them all in the same week. This again is a notable difference compared to other companies we reviewed, including BetterHelp. 

You book sessions through the Talkspace app. After clicking the green “book a session” button, you’ll be able to select the type of live session you would like to have: video, audio, or chat.

Talkspace

Talkspace

From there, you’ll be able to select the time you’d like to book on a calendar. Once your therapist confirms your booking, which, in my experience, happens pretty promptly, you’ll receive an email with the details, including an appointment to add to your calendar. You’ll also receive a convenient email reminder the day before as well as 10 minutes before your scheduled session.

The scheduling process is slick and was a highlight of my experience at Talkspace. The users we surveyed appear to agree; a quarter told us they appreciated the way their Talkspace therapist respects their time by working with their schedule and not starting sessions late.

How Do Therapy Sessions Work at Talkspace?

As noted above, you can message your therapist anytime with any therapy plan at Talkspace, or you can have virtual sessions via audio call, video call, or live chat.

Messaging Your Therapist

As of November 2022, all Talkspace plans include unlimited messaging. Using the app, you’re able to text your therapist any time, day or night. However, your therapist will only reply once a day, five days per week. 

Even with limited responses, having a safe place to process what is going on in real-time can be a positive experience for people. Subject matter expert Dr. Hardy says messaging “offers clients more opportunities to engage in the therapeutic process outside of traditional in-person or video sessions.” 

Longtime Talkspace therapist Meaghan Rice, PsyD, LPC, told us she sees messaging as a “live therapeutic journal where you're sharing your deepest, darkest thoughts, not having to be intimidated by someone else on the other end of the line.” A multitude of research affirms the beneficial effects of expressive writing on mental health conditions, including depression and anxiety. Dr. Rice said messaging at Talkspace has the added benefit of “getting some real feedback from a therapist instead of just writing things down.”

Some users may be expecting more than therapeutic journaling, however. Some have complained that responses to messages seem generic, and that was definitely my experience. When I messaged my therapist about some recent stressors and asked for a specific tip, her response contained no tip and no customization other than my name. I could just picture her scanning a list of replies for the one suited to “client writes a long message” and opting to copy and paste the item. If I had a messaging-only plan, this wouldn’t be enough support for me.

Live Sessions

All of your live sessions are the same length, no matter which format you choose. The duration depends on whether you self-pay (30 minutes) or use insurance (45 minutes). 

When it’s time for your live session—regardless of if it’s chat, audio, or video—you’ll log in to Talkspace, which you can do through your browser or the Talkspace app on your smartphone. From there, you’ll click on a green button to join the session. 

Talkspace

Talkspace

Live chat sessions occur in the same spot in your portal where you can message your therapist anytime. This format is handy for users who don’t have a private place away from prying ears. When I had my live chat session, it felt liberating to be able to access mental health support without also needing to arrange for childcare. But, with my three kids chaotically swirling around me, I found it tricky to focus. While my chat session was better than no session at all, I wouldn’t want to rely on that format regularly. Even though it wasn’t ideal for me, Talkspace users told us having the option is an important draw—15% said having multiple virtual session types was the biggest reason they went with Talkspace.

Talkspace

Talkspace


Video sessions open a new window. The feel will be familiar to anyone who has used Zoom or FaceTime. Audio sessions are similar but without the visual component. Both worked well from a technical standpoint, and I experienced none of the annoyances I associate with virtual meetings, like freezing or unsynced audio, during my sessions.

All live sessions have a timer on the screen that tracks time until you’ve hit your total number of minutes per live session, which in my case was 30. On the one hand, this made it easy to see that I was getting the proper session length. But, I personally found it distracting. It contributed to this sense I had during my live sessions that my providers were checking a box rather than supporting me as an individual. 

I noticed that my sessions tended to follow a pattern. The therapist would ask me how I was, respond briefly to what I said, and then launch into a coping technique like guided meditation or gratitude practice. It didn’t feel like the session varied much based on what I said or did. It’s not an experience I’ve had before in therapy, and I wondered how much of it was due to the constraints of the tight timeline, which is shorter than I’ve encountered elsewhere. 

Workshops

Talkspace

Talkspace

Talkspace’s most expensive membership plan includes therapist-led workshops. Live workshops, which you can attend anonymously, take place on Zoom five to six times per week. I received an email each Monday with the offerings for the week, which revolved around work, parenting, family, self-development, and other topics. One week, I had the opportunity to attend workshops about addressing burnout, breaking your negative cycle, handling tantrums like a pro, learning how to stop fighting about money, healing mother-daughter wounds, and finding your sense of belonging. The webpage for these classes also includes six or seven on-demand classes per week.

The workshops I attended were polished and professional and contained reputable information about mental health. The content felt simplistic at times, but would be a good entry point for someone looking to begin their mental health journey or in need of solid reminders. Talkspace’s workshops are ideal for people who want access to quality mental health information, who like to learn via video, and who would like to be able to ask questions of the presenter. 

Talkspace

Talkspace

Feedback and Measures

Talkspace

Talkspace

After each live therapy session, you’re asked to review the quality of the technical connection and the therapist. If your rating is less than five stars, you’ll be prompted to provide more detail.

Each month, Talkspace will also prompt you to complete an assessment of your mental health. The brief surveys, the GAD-7 and PHQ-8, are frequently used in therapy to give a snapshot of your anxiety and depression levels. You’ll be able to see your results over time on a line graph in your account.

Talkspace

Talkspace

That Talkspace regularly tracks satisfaction and progress are encouraging signs. Research indicates that measurement is associated with better clinical outcomes. 

What Happens If I Miss a Session at Talkspace?

If you miss a live session or cancel with less than 24 hours' notice, you must pay for the session using one of your session credits. 

Talkspace

Talkspace

Talkspace

Talkspace

Switching Therapists at Talkspace

It’s simple to switch therapists at Talkspace. You just log into your account, navigate to payment and plan, and click to change provider. You don’t need to speak to anyone—not your therapist, not customer service—so there’s no awkwardness. 

Still, before you can proceed with a new match, you must rate your therapist. The pop-up notes that your feedback will be shared with your therapist. This felt crummy—I didn’t click with my first therapist, but I didn’t want to get her in trouble for my preferences. Even for users without that particular concern, the idea that Talkspace will share your review could make you think twice about sharing honest feedback and feel frustrating for users who’ve had a bad experience with their therapist. It’s important to note this scenario appears to be relatively uncommon at Talkspace—of the Talkspace users who discontinued therapy at Talkspace, only 6% stopped because of a poor experience with their therapist.

Talkspace

Talkspace

After you rate your therapist, you complete an abbreviated version of the initial sign-up process. In a series of questions, you provide a reason for switching, what you would like your new provider to focus on, what state you live in, your preferences for therapist gender, and whether you'd like to share your chat history. Then you await your match. 

Even with the rating requirement, the ease of switching therapists is noteworthy. Talkspace users seem to appreciate it, and about half of the people we surveyed (48%) changed their therapist at least once. 

Having a low-friction way to swap therapists may give users a better shot of connecting with a provider they can have a good relationship with, which can, in turn, lead to better mental health outcomes, according to research. 

Pausing or Canceling Therapy at Talkspace

If you’re a self-pay user and want to take a break from Talkspace, you can do so in one of two ways. You'll see options to pause therapy and stop subscription renewal when you look at the payment and plan information in your account. 

Pausing therapy enables you to take a break from Talkspace for up to seven days per month. A pause pushes your billing date back by seven days; during the pause, you can’t message your therapist or schedule sessions. 

Talkspace

Talkspace

Talkspace

Talkspace

If you want to cancel your Talkspace membership, you can stop your subscription from renewing at any point before your next auto-renew date. You don’t need to talk to anyone directly about canceling, but you will have to click through a number of prompts. I was asked to rate my therapist and then offered a number of options to entice me to stay, including a discount, a longer pause, help to find a new provider, and a maintenance plan with fewer features and lower fees.

Talkspace

Talkspace

Quality of Care and User Satisfaction

Like 20% of Talkspace users we surveyed, ultimately, I didn’t feel like my Talkspace therapist really listened to me. However, it’s important to note that other users left their therapy sessions with a much more positive experience. 

When we asked Talkspace users what they thought about their therapist, a plurality said things like “my therapist is understanding and open-minded” (32%), “my therapist is supportive of my identities” (29%), “I feel like my therapist listens to me” (25%), and “I feel like my therapist cares about my well-being” (21%). 

Whether your experience will be lackluster like mine or more glowing like our survey respondents depends on a variety of factors, some of them systemic. Therapist caseloads, turnover, session length, and approach to psychiatry all impact the quality of mental health support you’ll receive.  

Therapist Caseloads

The number of clients per therapist is a critical quality metric at any therapy service provider. This is because if therapists are overworked, they are more likely to be burned out and “cannot provide the quality of care required for a successful therapeutic relationship,” says subject matter expert Hannah Owens, LMSW.

Talkspace told us that the average caseload is 15 to 20 users. However, according to Dr. Rice, it doesn’t have minimums or maximums. “You can take on a lot of clients if you want to,” she says. While Talkspace doesn’t incentivize high caseloads per se, Dr. Rice said that during high client demand, Talkspace offers limited-time bonuses to therapists willing to take on more clients. 

The combination of no maximums and occasional incentives may lead some therapists to take on too many clients, as I experienced firsthand. At the beginning of our session, one Talkspace therapist asked me repeatedly if we had met previously (we hadn’t). She said she has trouble remembering folks because she has 182 clients. When I reacted with surprise, she told me some of her colleagues had over 200. 

These high caseloads concern Owens. “It is difficult to build a rapport with a therapist who cannot remember you or anything you've discussed because they have two hundred other clients,” she says. At a minimum, she pointed out that wasting session minutes refreshing your therapist’s memory leaves less time to discuss what brought you to therapy. This pace is also difficult to maintain and could lead therapists to leave the platform for something more sustainable.

Therapist Turnover

Research suggests that therapist turnover is associated with worse mental health outcomes for clients, so it’s ideal to seek therapy at a company that can retain its therapists. While Dr. Rice has been at Talkspace for six years, she acknowledged that the length of her tenure is unusual, and said she believes her colleagues typically stay for six months to a year. She said this duration is reflective of high turnover in the field of mental health generally. 

While therapist retention is a global problem, with attrition rates ranging from 25% to 60% annually, Dr. Rice’s estimate indicates that it may be worse than average at Talkspace. This could be related to the negative reputation Dr. Hardy says Talkspace has among therapists. He notes that Talkspace is seen as “a second-tier option by more qualified, experienced, or well-established therapists.” 

This is due primarily to the fee schedule. “When you examine the going rate of therapists in private practice, Talkspace pays substantially less,” he explains. Reports of no-shows and low user engagement contribute to a sense that “those utilizing the service did not take it seriously,” which, combined with the low salary, cement Talkspace’s poor reputation among therapists and may undermine retention. 

As it happens, one of my Talkspace therapists announced she was leaving the platform about a week after I started working with her. She had been at Talkspace for a year. Her message about it indicated her last day (in a week’s time) and provided instructions to reach out to customer support to switch therapists. 

The Talkspace users we surveyed didn’t seem to be expecting their therapists to leave anytime soon, though. Half felt like they’d still be with their therapist in six months, and 42% said they were likely to still be seeing their therapist a year from now. These numbers are comparable to other online therapy companies we assessed. 

Even if users don’t expect their therapists to leave Talkspace, it appears that therapist retention is a problem on the platform. Talkspace users should be aware of this issue and consider steps to protect themselves from it, such as switching therapists if theirs seems burned out or otherwise preparing for the possibility.

Session Length 

Talkspace therapist Dr. Rice told us that Talkspace users with an insurance-based plan are eligible for 45-minute sessions, which reflects norms in psychotherapy. “But private clients usually have 30-minute sessions,” she said.

Subject matter expert Dr. Hardy says this length is concerning. 

“Thirty minutes does not allow a therapist sufficient time to explore an individual’s history and/or contextual factors that may influence a problem,” he explains. As a result of this abbreviated session length, therapists may perform “‘coaching’ versus actual therapy.” He also notes that “a limited session length could create a sense of feeling rushed and could impede important aspects of the therapeutic process.”

Unfortunately, my experience at Talkspace bore out Dr. Hardy’s fears. As a self-pay client, I only had the option for 30-minute sessions. One therapist spent time in each of the three sessions I had with her going over the same guided meditation, even when I pointed out we had done it previously. Another had me count my blessings rather than discuss meatier issues I brought up. The therapy sessions I attended reminded me of a Spotify playlist. I appreciated the mix of coping skills, but the contents did not feel custom to me or my experience. 

Medication Management/Psychiatry

In 2018, Talkspace began offering psychiatry plans with board-certified psychiatrists or nurse practitioners as an add-on or alternative to its therapy services. Subject matter expert Dr. Hardy said virtual medication management is a “tremendous value-add for those who need additional support.”

Users told us they received medication from Talkspace to address ADHD, alcohol use, anxiety, bipolar disorder, depression, eating disorder, insomnia, OCD, postpartum depression, postpartum anxiety, PTSD, schizophrenia/psychosis, and weight management. It’s important to note that Talkspace prescribers cannot write prescriptions for controlled substances like Ritalin or Adderall. 

Our survey data suggests that the quality of psychiatry at Talkspace may be uneven. When we asked users what they liked about psychiatry at Talkspace, 49% said they liked how responsive their providers were to questions and medication needs. Of this same group, however, 24% effectively said the opposite—their biggest frustration with Talkspace prescribers was lack of responsiveness. 

But, overall, users are satisfied with psychiatry at Talkspace: 90% of people we surveyed said the psychiatry services were good, very good, or excellent.

Privacy Policies

Talkspace’s privacy policy indicates that it takes steps to protect the security of personally identifiable information, which includes health information. It also states that Talkspace is HIPAA compliant (the federal law protecting personal health information). In a survey, Talkspace told us data privacy is its number one priority. 

However, its privacy policy includes the caveat: “Please be aware that no security measures are perfect or impenetrable, and we cannot guarantee the absolute security of your information.”

The security of Talkspace user information has been under scrutiny in recent years. In 2020, New York Times reporting revealed evidence that Talkspace regularly violated the privacy of its users for commercial benefit. Responding to concerns like these, Senators Elizabeth Warren and Cory Booker urged Talkspace and BetterHelp to provide clarification on their privacy practices in 2022. 

Talkspace vs. Its Competitors

Talkspace’s largest competitor is BetterHelp. Founded within a year of each other, their offerings overlap considerably. Both provide live video, audio, and text sessions with licensed therapists in all 50 U.S. states. Each has online therapy rooms that enable 24/7 messaging. Both have the capacity to treat individuals 13 and up and offer couples therapy. For flexibility and availability, the two are virtually neck and neck. 

The most striking difference between the companies is price. While the cost of BetterHelp’s plan varies, a representative told us its plans average $68 per week, billed monthly. At approximately $272 per month, on average, BetterHelp costs less than any Talkspace plan and half as much as Talkspace’s most expensive offering, making BetterHelp more affordable for self-pay users.

Providing a similar service for a more affordable rate may account for why 58% of BetterHelp users said it was very good or excellent value for money, while only 48% of Talkspace users said the same. However, if your insurance is accepted at Talkspace, you may feel it’s the better value. Our survey showed that 57% of Talkspace users end up paying less than the advertised rate thanks to insurance—a perk not available at BetterHelp, which doesn’t accept insurance. 

Having three plans also means that Talkspace users can choose the level of service that works for them, which is distinct from BetterHelp since it only offers one membership option. At the same time, even the lowest-cost Talkspace plan is more expensive than BetterHelp’s. 

On the whole, Talkspace users seem marginally more satisfied than those at BetterHelp. Ninety percent of Talkspace users told us they had a positive overall experience, while 86% of BetterHelp users felt similarly. Our survey responses showed a similar trend concerning the number of quality providers at each company; 85% of Talkspace users gave a good, very good, or excellent quality rating, to BetterHelp’s 79%. 

If money is your deciding factor and you are not using insurance, BetterHelp is your best bet. However, our survey data indicates you might be happiest overall at Talkspace. This may be particularly true if you seek prescription medication to support your mental health, as BetterHelp does not offer psychiatry services, while Talkspace does.

Final Verdict

Talkspace gives its users the freedom to connect with licensed mental health providers wherever they are and however they like. It grants its providers freedom too. But without caseload caps, some therapists take on too many clients to be able to provide quality care. Talkspace’s flaws aren’t dealbreakers, thanks to a platform design that makes it relatively easy to work around them. If your Talkspace therapist seems overworked, you can easily switch providers (and keep switching) until you find a good fit. 

The system works well enough for most, which is reflected in our survey data. Ninety percent of Talkspace users told us they had a positive overall experience, and 82% would go so far as to recommend Talkspace to a friend. I’m an outlier—my experience wasn’t particularly good, and I’d suggest friends check out another online therapy provider first. However, Talkspace may be worth it for you, especially if you love a well-designed app, require psychiatry, and can sign up for the newly available 45-minute therapy sessions, a solid improvement from last year.

Methodology

To fairly and accurately review the best online therapy programs, we sent questionnaires to 55 companies and surveyed 105 current users of each. This allowed us to directly compare services offered by gathering qualitative and quantitative data about each company and its users’ experiences.

Specifically, we evaluated each company on the following factors: website usability, the sign-up and therapist matching processes, therapist qualifications, types of therapy offered, the service's quality of care, client-therapist communication options, session length, subscription offerings, client privacy protections, average cost and value for money, whether it accepts insurance, how easy it is to change therapists, overall user satisfaction, and the likelihood that clients would recommend them.

We also signed up for the companies in order to get a sense of how this process worked, how easy to use the platform is, and how therapy takes place at the company. Then, we interviewed a therapist who has worked at Talkspace for six years and worked with three subject matter experts to get their expert analysis on how suited this company is to provide quality care to therapy seekers. 

Edited by
Simone Scully
Simone Scully Headshot
Simone is the health editorial director for performance marketing. She has over a decade of experience as a professional journalist covering mental health, chronic conditions, medicine, and science.
Was this page helpful?
Sources
Health.com uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. American Psychological Association. Text therapy: New platforms spark questions.

  2. U.S. Census Bureau. Income in the United States: 2021.

  3. Robertson SMC, Short SD, Sawyer L, Sweazy S. Randomized controlled trial assessing the efficacy of expressive writing in reducing anxiety in first-year college students: the role of linguistic features. Psychol Health. 2021;36(9):1041-1065. doi:10.1080/08870446.2020.1827146

  4. Reinhold M, Bürkner PC, Holling H. Effects of expressive writing on depressive symptoms-A meta-analysis. Clin Psychol Sci Pract. 2018;25(1):e12224. doi:10.1111/cpsp.12224

  5. Travagin G, Margola D, Revenson TA. How effective are expressive writing interventions for adolescents? A meta-analytic review. Clin Psychol Rev. 2015;36:42-55. doi:10.1016/j.cpr.2015.01.003

  6. Kroenke K, Strine TW, Spitzer RL, Williams JBW, Berry JT, Mokdad AH. The PHQ-8 as a measure of current depression in the general population. J Affect Disord. 2009;114(1-3):163-173. doi:10.1016/j.jad.2008.06.026

  7. Spitzer RL, Kroenke K, Williams JBW, Löwe B. A brief measure for assessing generalized anxiety disorder: the GAD-7. Arch Intern Med. 2006;166(10):1092. doi:10.1001/archinte.166.10.1092

  8. Connors EH, Douglas S, Jensen-Doss A, et al. What gets measured gets done: how mental health agencies can leverage measurement-based care for better patient care, clinician supports, and organizational goals. Adm Policy Ment Health. 2021;48(2):250-265. doi:10.1007/s10488-020-01063-w

  9. American Psychological Association. Better relationships with patients lead to better outcomes.

  10. Johnson-Kwochka A, Wu W, Luther L, Fischer MW, Salyers MP, Rollins AL. The relationship between clinician turnover and client outcomes in community behavioral health settings. Psychiatr Serv. 2020;71(1):28-34. doi:10.1176/appi.ps.201900169

  11. Fukui S, Rollins AL, Salyers MP. Characteristics and job stressors associated with turnover and turnover intention among community mental health providers. Psychiatr Serv. 2020;71(3):289-292. doi:10.1176/appi.ps.201900246

Related Articles