Talkspace Online Therapy Review

Quality online therapy and psychiatry for teens, adults, and couples.

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4.7

Talkspace

Talkspace Recirc

Talkspace

Talkspace is a teletherapy service that offers subscriptions for messaging-based and live talk therapy for individuals, teens, and couples, as well as psychiatry. The service is suited for users with busy schedules who are comfortable with text-based therapy and short video sessions. It also provides a variety of plans, including a more affordable, message-based only option, and it accepts insurance.

Pros & Cons

Pros
  • Flexible and easy to use

  • Therapists available throughout the week for messaging

  • Provides individual, teen, and couples counseling

  • Accepts insurance

  • User-friendly app

  • Affordable plans

  • Offers medication management plan

  • Discounts available

Cons
  • Affordable option is messaging only

  • Sessions are only 30 minutes long

  • Therapist messages might be impersonal

  • Therapists might be late to sessions

  • Doesn’t accept Medicare or Medicaid

4.7

Talkspace

Talkspace Recirc

Talkspace

People often cite a lack of time or access to qualified therapists as reasons why they can’t commit to therapy. As one of the largest teletherapy providers, built on a mission of providing high-quality care that will work with any schedule, Talkspace aims to simplify finding mental health care and cut out commute times by offering live video sessions and messaging-based therapy services 24/7. With both self-pay and insurance payment options, Talkspace aims to serve a wide demographic of therapy seekers. 

In order to find out if Talkspace meets its mission, I did my own research and signed up for a one-month subscription that included four live video sessions and messaging-based therapy. We also surveyed 105 Talkspace users about their experience, had two other testers test other services, and compared the service to 54 other online therapy providers we also reviewed.

What Is Talkspace?

Founded in 2012, Talkspace is a telehealth service providing online therapy and psychiatric services to a wide range of clients including individual adults, teens, and couples. Its story began when founders Oren and Roni Frank had a positive experience with couples therapy, and embarked on a mission to revitalize mental health care. By creating virtual video and text-based options, they believed they could “democratize healthcare,” making it more accessible to more people.

Since then, Talkspace’s services have grown to include psychiatric services such as medication management. Additionally, it accepts many major insurance plans, meaning 40 million Americans are eligible to use its services.   

Talkspace's history isn’t free from controversy. In 2020, the New York Times reported the company used burner phones and asked employees to leave fake five-star reviews. This same investigation reported concerns about how it handles user data, stating transcripts from messaging therapy sessions were shared with the marketing department. Additionally, the investigation reported the company puts pressure on therapists to perform at a certain level, docking their pay if they don’t respond quickly enough.

What Does Talkspace Offer?

Talkspace provides online therapy and psychiatric services as messaging-based therapy, live therapy, and group workshops. All of the therapy services are available on a monthly subscription basis.

Currently, Talkspace offers the following therapy options:

  • Individual counseling for adults
  • Couples counseling
  • Counseling for teens ages 13 to 17

Who Is Talkspace For? 

Talkspace might be a good fit for you if you’re looking for support for issues related to:

  • Anxiety
  • Chronic illness
  • Depression
  • Eating disorders
  • Family conflicts
  • Grief 
  • LGBTQIA+ concerns
  • Mood disorders
  • Parenting
  • Relationship issues
  • Stress management
  • Substance use
  • Trauma

How Much Does Talkspace Cost?

Talkspace’s costs vary based on the scope of the services provided.

  • Messaging therapy: Unlimited messaging (therapist guaranteed to respond five days a week); starts at $276/month
  • Messaging and video therapy: Messaging plan along with one scheduled video or phone therapy session each week; starts at $396/month
  • Messaging, video, and workshop therapy: Messaging and video plan along with weekly workshops; starts at $436/month

Couples therapy is also available on a pay-per-month subscription basis with the most affordable plan starting at $396/month. 

Psychiatric services are the only pay-per-session option available. The initial consultation costs $249 and each follow-up session is $125. Talkspace also offers package deals for psychiatry which are discounted based on how many sessions a client pays for upfront.

At face value, the therapy options at Talkspace appear to be competitive. However, it is worth noting that costs might not break down as equitably as it appears. For example, I was only offered 30-minute sessions at the second-tier option. This means I was being charged closer to $200 an hour. I only paid $99 for hour-long sessions at both Teladoc and Hers. So, Talkspace isn’t actually more affordable than in-person therapy if you’re comparing hour-to-hour rates. Generally, rates for in-person therapy range from $100 to $200 a session.

Does Talkspace Accept Insurance?

Yes, Talkspace does accept insurance. It partners with a wide number of plans, stating this makes 40 million insurance-covered Americans eligible for therapy. Talkspace’s insurance partnerships include Aetna, Cigna, Premera, Blue Cross Blue Shield, and more. 

Talkspace does not accept Medicaid or Medicare, however.

Does Talkspace Offer Free Trials or Discounts?

At sign-up, I was offered a $100 discount for my one-month subscription. This brought the monthly cost down to $296. Talkspace is still offering this discount with the promo code SPACE. 

Additionally, at cancellation, I was offered another discount of $150 if I chose not to cancel my subscription. After I declined the $150 discount, I was offered a maintenance plan of $49/month that would allow me to message my therapist once a week. The maintenance plan isn’t available on the website, so it seems it is only offered if you cancel an existing subscription.

Talkspace users aren’t obligated to sign a contract. However, the company does incentivize clients to commit to more than a month. By paying quarterly or yearly, clients can get an additional discount for their sessions.

Navigating Talkspace’s Website

In my experience, the tech side of online therapy is what Talkspace really does well. From its website design and functionality to its user-friendly app, I was generally impressed with how inviting and user-friendly signing up for the service was. Surveyed Talkspace users agreed with my experience, with 82% saying the website was easy or very easy to navigate.

Talkspace Homepage

Talkspace Homepage

Cool colors like blue, white, and purple cover the bulk of the website, and the homepage includes just enough information to keep you informed without being overwhelming. A video of a smiling woman talking on the phone plays on a loop and buttons for each of the main services offered are superimposed at the top of the page—individual therapy, couples therapy, teen therapy, and psychiatry. Further down, there is a list of what the therapists treat and a scrolling banner of user reviews.

From the horizontal menu on the top, you can select “learn more” or you can log in. Because the homepage is basic, visitors who want more information will need to navigate the site map on the bottom header or start the sign-up process. Even though I looked closely, I wasn’t able to find the FAQ page without resorting to a Google search.

Talkspace

Talkspace

By scrolling halfway down the homepage, I select “get started” and begin the sign-up process. I also could have selected from four icons at the top of the page which read, “individual,” “couples,” “teens,” and “psychiatry.”

Talkspace links directly to its social media accounts from the website. Its Instagram account has 153,000 followers and new posts are added every two to five days. Talkspace does engage with commenters frequently, typically to answer questions about the services offered or address a complaint.

How Do You Sign Up for Therapy at Talkspace?

Signing up for therapy at Talkspace was easy. First, I was prompted to indicate the type of therapy I was looking for.

Talkspace Review Getting Started

Talkspace

I selected individual therapy and then answered questions about why I was seeking therapy. In addition to asking for more details about what I’d like to discuss in therapy, I was asked to share medical information and details about the medications I was taking. I was also asked for details about my identity, including my date of birth, full name, and where I live.

Talkspace Review Getting Startes

Talkspace

I was prompted to select a subscription plan and enter my payment information before I was able to learn about the therapists available in my state. Talkspace automatically applies a promo code to your cart if this is your first time using its website.

The sign-up process was really quick, only taking me 10 minutes. However, it has to be completed in one sitting. If you exit the page and come back, it won’t save your answers or allow you to pick up where you left off.

Matching With a Therapist/Choosing a Therapist at Talkspace

After completing my initial intake survey and entering payment information, I was matched with a therapist. Even though I entered my payment information before being matched with a therapist, I wasn’t charged until after I was officially matched with one of Talkspace’s providers.

Talkspace promises to match you with a therapist within 48 hours, but I received my match in less than an hour.

How Do Therapy Sessions Work at Talkspace?

Clients who opt for the live therapy subscription receive four credits for sessions that must be used within a month. 

Both my live video and audio sessions could be accessed from my account dashboard. The video sessions can happen on the Talkspace website or in the app, as can the live audio sessions.

Before each session, Talkspace sent me an email reminder. I was able to add the appointment to my digital calendar, and the email invite included a direct link to launch the session video or audio. 

I was pleased with the technical side of these sessions. I didn’t experience any technical difficulties—no trouble launching the session, no connection issues, and no lagging audio. The content of the sessions began similarly to other therapy sessions I’ve attended. For example, my therapist began with an informal intake questionnaire, and I answered questions about my mental health history and my goals for therapy. After that, however, time was running short. 

Both therapists I ended up seeing offered to send me a few resources through Talkspace’s messaging platform and said we could talk about my treatment goals more in-depth in future sessions. Ultimately, however, at just 30 minutes each, these sessions felt too short.

Messaging Your Therapist

My subscription included unlimited messaging with a guaranteed response five days a week. Talkspace requires therapists to respond two times a day to messaging clients, and therapists are encouraged to respond within three hours. When I messaged my therapist, they responded within a few hours. This response time was fine and in line with the messaging policy at Talkspace.

Personally, I don’t like the messaging aspect of this service. And, given the reputation Talkspace has for poor management of private patient information, I chose not to share anything about my mental health condition or my personal life in writing.

There is also the question of whether or not message-based therapy is effective, even though it might feel more comfortable for some clients. Live talk therapy establishes a set time and place for the emotional work of therapy, according to our subject matter expert, Hannah Owens, LMSW.

“Simply texting a therapist does not establish that safe space and time, and might not allow the client to do their best work and delve into issues that are difficult to explain or approach in succinct text messages,” says Owens.

Medication Management/Psychiatry

Talkspace offers medication management through its psychiatry services. Like most online medication management services, its doctors aren’t able to prescribe controlled substances. This means clients can secure some medications for anxiety, depression, and mood disorders, but wouldn’t have access to stimulants, benzodiazepines, or painkillers.

I didn’t try out the psychiatry option with Talkspace, but some of the users we surveyed did. Seventy percent of these users rated Talkspace’s medication management option as excellent or very good, and 90% of users rated the actual psychiatry services as good to excellent. However, 24% said their prescribers weren’t quick to respond when they reached out for things like refills.

What Happens If I Miss a Session at Talkspace?

A missed session is considered a “no-show” and still uses one of your four monthly credits. 

That being said, one therapist I saw said they were able to override that. They told me if I needed to cancel outside of the policy or missed a session, I should reach out. This doesn’t seem to be the standard at Talkspace, but rather an accommodation my therapist made, stating that therapy comes with enough stress without making scheduling and canceling difficult.

Switching Therapists at Talkspace

In order to switch therapists, you must leave your provider a negative star rating after completing a session or request a change in your account dashboard. When I went to my account and requested a change, I was prompted to read a blurb about giving my current provider a chance. When I selected that I still wanted to switch providers, I was asked to provide a reason.

At this time, I was given three new therapist bios to choose from. It isn’t abnormal to switch therapists before finding a good fit on this site, in fact, 30% of the Talkspace users we surveyed switched once while 13% switched two to three times.

Pausing or Canceling Therapy at Talkspace

Since Talkspace is a subscription service, you have to cancel before the date you’re typically charged your monthly fee to avoid paying for an extra month. Talkspace clients can cancel from the website or the app. They are also given the option to pause therapy, and the charges that go with it, for 30 days.

To cancel or pause, simply head to your account. From here, select Payment and Plan and click on the cancel or pause options. After choosing to cancel, I had to answer eight questions before I could officially cancel. These questions included providing a reason for cancellation and refusing multiple offers for discounts if I chose to stay. I found this annoying.

Quality of Care and User Satisfaction

I wasn’t very happy with the care I received during my Talkspace therapy sessions. We started off on the wrong foot when my therapist pasted a copied welcome message into the chat, which addressed me by someone else’s name. 

The sessions themselves felt too short. I only had the option to sign up for 30-minute sessions, and I didn’t feel this was long enough to get into what I wanted to talk about in my sessions. Generally, 30 minutes isn’t an adequate amount of time for effective therapy, according to Owens. An exception to this might be if there is a specific plan in place for what will be accomplished during the 30-minute session.

“Many people do not feel comfortable accessing their feelings or issues they would like to discuss right away—it often takes time to build this confidence,” says Owens. “Additionally, if the client is delving into some deep feelings and experiences, cutting the session short might leave them feeling abandoned in a highly sensitive emotional place.”

I also wasn’t pleased with my first therapist in general. While they were compassionate, I don’t know that they actually specialized in the issues I wanted to talk about. There were times their advice was contradictory to what I knew to be true about my condition, or I felt misunderstood, which made getting through the sessions frustrating.

My second therapist was 10 minutes late to my session without letting me know through messaging. They joined our session just as I was about to leave. They did offer to stay late or schedule a second session to make up for being late, though. 

This therapist did seem very knowledgeable about my mental health condition but spent most of our session talking at me instead of with me, sometimes even talking over me. They offered to send me resources over messaging but instead sent me a long, impersonal message about the types of therapy they practice. I’m not sure if there was a miscommunication or if they simply forgot what we had discussed.

One of our other testers had her teenager try out Talkspace's therapy for adolescents, and her daughter said she struggled to connect with both therapists she saw at Talkspace. Her therapists seemed disengaged and tended to repeat the same advice. Her second therapist was also not the best at responding to messages sent outside of the session.

Even though I didn’t feel my needs were met by my Talkspace therapists, I’m not certain my experience is the norm. Another one of our testers tried Talkspace's couples therapy sessions and found these sessions to be generally helpful. While the sessions felt short—30 minutes isn't a lot of time for two people to talk—their therapist managed the session time well and was very knowledgeable.

In addition, a large percentage of Talkspace users also had a generally favorable impression of the care they received, with 78% saying all or most of their needs were met by their therapists. Additionally, 92% of surveyed users rated their therapist’s qualifications as good, very good, or excellent. And, only 13% of surveyed users said they were not likely to recommend Talkspace to a friend. Fifty percent of Talkspace users also said they were likely or very likely to still be seeing their therapist after six months, and 42% said they thought they’d still be seeing their therapist after 12 months. 

Users also seemed to feel like there was a good amount of therapist diversity on the site, with a whopping 90% saying the diversity was good to excellent.

Privacy Policies at Talkspace

Talkspace is facing scrutiny for how it protects user data. In addition to typical practices of collecting demographic information through cookies and the sign-up process, Talkspace was careless with private user data. Specifically, when sharing data about its users that was meant to by anonymous, it included identifying details. A Senate report stated that 81% of the time there was enough information in anonymized data to identify the users being referenced. 

Additionally, according to a press release from Senator Elizabeth Warren, Talkspace was believed to be using transcripts from messaging therapy for marketing purposes.

Talkspace vs. Its Competitors

Talkspace and BetterHelp offer similar services to their clients. Like Talkspace, BetterHelp allows clients to communicate during live sessions and through text messaging. Both companies offer pay-per-month subscriptions, but BetterHelp is slightly less expensive at $60 to $90 each week.

Forty-one percent of Talkspace users said they were very likely to recommend the service to a friend and 42% of users said the same about BetterHelp. Among Talkspace users, 78% said all or most of their needs were met and 76% said the same about BetterHelp. While the companies fared similarly along these datapoints, Talkspace outperformed in several key areas. For example, 97% of Talkspace users said the service was a little better to much better than other services they’d used in the past, compared to 84% of BetterHelp users. Ninety-seven percent of Talkspace users also rated the service good to excellent overall compared to 84% of BetterHelp users. 

The useability of the website is one area where Talkspace really stands out, with 36% of users rating the Talkspace website as very easy to use while only 30% said the same about BetterHelp. If a therapy seeker  deciding between these two options is seeking an easy-to-use app and website, Talkspace would likely be the better fit.

Final Verdict

I have mixed feelings about using Talkspace. I found the sign-up process intuitive and the website easy to navigate. The app is very functional, and made it easy to schedule sessions remotely, message my therapist on the fly, and even log into video sessions from anywhere. 

That being said, I don’t feel the sessions themselves met my needs. At 30 minutes each, it felt like we were just getting started as the sessions were wrapping up. What’s more, while I know the messaging option was meant to add value to my sessions, it didn’t work well for me. Sifting through educational material sent to me became one more thing on my to-do list and some of the messages meant to be personal appeared to be copied-and-pasted.

Then there is the issue of privacy protection to consider. Talkspace is being investigated for its information-sharing practices, which left me feeling uncomfortable sharing anything in writing that was personal on the platform.

Despite my feelings about Talkspace, many users appreciated their experience with the telehealth company. Among surveyed users, 78% said Talkspace met all or most of their needs. Additionally, 82% of Talkspace users surveyed said they were likely or very likely to recommend it to a friend.

In light of the survey results, I would recommend the company with a few caveats. I think users should understand that their personal information may not be fully protected. Additionally, for therapy seekers with more extensive mental health needs, a therapy service offering longer, more in-depth therapy sessions might be a better fit. Talkspace could be a great option for someone looking for a flexible therapy option for managing everyday stress or maintaining their mental health.

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.

Specs

  • Price $276 - $516 monthly
  • Insurance Accepted? Yes
  • Types 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
1 Source
Verywell Family 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. Senator Elizabeth Warren. Warren, Booker, Wyden call on mental health apps to provide answers on data privacy and sharing practices that may put patients' data at risk of exploitation.

By Mary Sauer
Mary is a freelance writer with eight years experience reporting on mental health, pregnancy, and parenting. Her work can be found in Parade Magazine, Good Housekeeping, and Vice's Tonic.

Edited by Ally Hirschlag
Allison "Ally" Hirschlag

Ally is an expert in health, science, sustainability, wellness, mental health, and parenting. She has written for publications including The Washington Post, The Guardian, BBC Future, and more.

Learn about our editorial process
and Simone Scully
Simone Scully Headshot

Simone is the health editorial director for performance marketing at Verywell. She has over a decade of experience as a professional journalist covering pregnancy, parenting, health, medicine, science, and lifestyle topics.

Learn about our editorial process