The Pros and Cons of Using Online Therapy App 'Talkspace'
Talkspace is an online and mobile therapy app which matches you up with a licensed therapist for $128 a month. You’re able to communicate with them almost 24/7 through texting, voice or video calls. It’s a great app for someone who is on the go or if they prefer typing over being face to face. I’ve always been a writer more than a speaker so I fell into the latter category of Talkspace users. In the past year of using this app, I’ve been through three different therapists and have seen both the pros and cons of this modern day tool.
After seeing regular therapists face to face off and on for almost ten years, I needed something different. Talking in person began to trigger me as I approached tougher subjects, so I needed to find a way to respect my own boundaries while still getting the help I needed. In this kind of situation, using Talkspace really paid off and it allowed me to discuss the things I couldn’t vocalize in a less nerve-wracking manner. Below you will find my top pros and cons of this app.
1. It’s convenient.
This was the main selling point for me. I needed someone I could talk to immediately, so I could relieve my friends of my spam texts due to my spiraling. There is no limit or bad time to text your therapist. You can write them a damn novel if you want and they’ll still be there to respond. Granted, it will take them a while to reply if you do write a lot, but there will always be a response in my experience. Always.
2. You’re able to switch therapists whenever you want.
When you first create an account on the app, you meet with a representative who asks you a few questions about your mental health and what you look for in a therapist. Once that conversation is done, they take all of the information and match you with a therapist who they feel would best suit you. If by any chance this match doesn’t work out in the end, that’s totally fine. You’re able to go into the settings tab and click “change therapist” and you will be asked what they can do to find you a better fit. There is no limit (that I know of) to how many times you can change therapists. (Personally, I’ve been through three in the past year, so I assume there aren’t any limits.)
3. If/when you do switch therapists, you don’t have to repeat everything you’ve already talked about.
This is what I consider to be a huge perk. This is also something which never really crossed my mind when it came to in-person therapy sessions. When you switch in real life, you have to go through the daunting process of repeating your stories multiple times and that can be exhausting. But once you switch therapists on Talkspace, the chatroom automatically saves all previous conversations no matter how many times you switch therapists. This takes the legwork out of having to re-explain everything you’ve been through. And once your new therapist has been given a little time to catch up and read over everything, you’re able to start back where you left off. They also ask what you liked and didn’t like about your last therapist so they won’t make the same mistakes.
4. It’s a great platform for people who are uncomfortable talking about things out loud.
Something which seems to be rarely acknowledged is the fact that different people have different communication styles. Some, like myself, operate better through writing or text, while others have no problem talking about things out loud. There is no shame in either approach, and this also took me a long time to learn. After seeing my in-person therapist off and on for two years I began to notice a pattern, where I would feel like jumping out of my skin every time I got too close to a serious topic, but I was determined to keep trying. Did this help? Nope. I finally gave up trying to force myself to adhere to traditional therapy standards in order to try something different. As someone who has fallen into the former category of communicating more comfortably through writing, this app was a perfect choice and not only that, it actually improved how I handle my in-person sessions as well. It’s like that old saying: play to your strengths. Find a way that helps you communicate the best and go for it. Talkspace also allows you to communicate through video and voice if texting becomes too much.
5. You’re able to freeze your account for up to 30 days if you need a break.
If you’re feeling exhausted or can’t afford a payment, they allow you to freeze your account for 30 days. I assumed this meant that when you freeze your account, you will lose contact with your therapist until you unfreeze it. I was wrong. Apparently, even when your account is on hold, you’re able to communicate with your therapist if you need to do so.
6. You’re able to create a passcode for your account.
This is great if you want to keep people from snooping on what you’re talking about, or if you just want to be extra sure to keep these conversations between you and your therapist. You can create a 4-digit passcode in order to log into your account. It’s a great simple way to keep things safe and to make sure no one has direct access to your private thoughts and feelings.
7. You can also talk to your therapist on the computer.
If you’re someone who types faster than they text, you can simply log into your account via the Talkspace website. This definitely comes in handy when you’re in a mood to write a novel and/or they respond to you with a novel.
1. Sometimes the therapists don’t have the best responses.
I’ve had a few interactions on this app which seemed almost slightly robotic. Maybe it’s just the way I communicate through text and it happens to be more animated than I am in person, but I still couldn’t shake off this weird feeling. Their responses were always polite but lacked what I felt like were human-like responses. There was something missing I just couldn’t put my finger on, and their lack of emotion through their words made me feel tense. There were also moments where I requested what I felt like was textbook information about Psychology and behavior, but they either didn’t know anything about the topic or responded in a way that avoided the specific subject. So out of curiosity one day, I contacted support to see if they had their therapists go through a training program since there had been such a variation in communication styles. They responded and confirmed the therapists go through training; however, I still find it odd some therapists lack basic compassion or knowledge of basic subjects.
2. Their schedule could possibly conflict with your needs.
Generally, the therapists take two days off a week. I thought this meant every single one took weekends off since in-person therapists tend to do that. But turns out I was wrong in the best way. While some therapists on here do take weekends off, others don’t. This scheduling can either benefit you or conflict with your needs. My second therapist on Talkspace took weekends off. At first, I didn’t mind until I began to spiral primarily on weekends and I would have to wait until Monday for a response. (Weekends are generally hard for me without any solid structure to follow, so not having that person there to help me out exacerbated the situation). It wasn’t until my most recent therapist when I found out the schedule varies from person to person. This is also something important to note when you’re in the beginning stages and telling the representative what you’re looking for in a therapist.
3. Sometimes your therapist isn’t the best fit for you.
There is always going to be a trial and error period when trying to find the right match. Unfortunately, that process doesn’t become any less daunting when you have to do it through an app versus in person. (Although, the app does make it a lot easier.) There likely won’t be an instant connection with your first or maybe even your second therapist. It can be disheartening. I’ve had to switch therapists three times within the span of a year because things didn’t feel right or the communication styles were off. It’s a process and a very annoying one at that. But there is a silver lining — at least you can stay in your pajamas while trying to figure things out.
4. The therapist evaluation surveys are kind of annoying.
This is a personal gripe more than anything. It’s a survey which pops up once a month to gauge how things are going with your treatment. I’m sure it’s helpful and necessary for the company and everyone involved, but I swear that thing pops up more than once a month. It’s just something small and probably insignificant, but it still gets on my nerves. And like I said, it’s just a personal gripe. It annoys me, and that’s about it.
Overall, my experience on Talkspace has been a positive one, despite the bumps in the road along the way. It helped me to understand my primary mode of communication and in doing so, allowed me to clear up a lot of the discomfort I was experiencing in regular therapy. I no longer dissociate when I see my in-person therapist, and if there’s a chance I might, I save those topics for Talkspace. My general advice for using this app is to take things slow like you would with any new therapist and make sure they’re a good match before diving into the deep stuff.
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