*This entry was originally posted on Medium on January 6, 2017*
In my first post, I mentioned that I was testing out a text-based therapy app, Talkspace. I had briefly mentioned how I used it and in a subsequent post I decided that the app was ultimately not what I needed. Since then I had cancelled my membership and have ignored all of Talkspace’s attempts to get me to subscribe again.
I’d like to go into more detail on my experience with the app.
This past summer I decided to test out Talkspace after seeing many ads for it on the subway. I have to say, as someone that works in the advertising industry, when an ad is relevant to you it really does stick…
Once you sign in for the first time, you’re connected with someone who administers a few preliminary questions so they get a sense of what your needs are, or that’s how I understood the process to be. After you answer the questions, they invite a dedicated therapist to the chat and from that point on you have a closed chat room where you two can talk privately.
My therapist mentioned up front her schedule and said that she would, at a minimum, chat with me twice a day during the weekdays and was off on the weekends. That was fine with me given the price I was paying was a fraction of the cost of an in-person therapist.
I signed up for a 3 months subscription to start and would make my decision to continue or cancel after 3 months.
The first month and a half were decent. We had good chats and it was nice to have an outlet for me when I was feeling anxious.
I have to preface that at this point in my life, I was not seeing an in-person therapist. In my first post I had mentioned that my first therapist had to stop seeing his patients and at the time I thought I was able to manage my stress/anxiety/depression on my own. Those things started to surface up again but instead of having to hunt for a new in-person therapist, I decided to try Talkspace out.
Funny enough, around the halfway point of my time on Talkspace, my online therapist messages me saying that they have to transfer my account to another therapist because they were taking a more administrative role at Talkspace, whatever that means.
My second Talkspace therapist was…okay. I found myself repeating myself many times…on a text based app that doesn’t delete old messages. I was asked twice if I was having suicidal ideations (FYI: I have never), and there were times where I just didn’t have anything to say so I didn’t communicate anything.
It wasn’t until I decided to cancel my subscription that they reached out to me again. Nonstop. That was months ago and I still get emails.
At the end of the day, Talkspace is a business. And like all businesses, its goal is to make money. Therapists are asked to upsell to more premium live video chat packages, longer term subscriptions, etc.
If a patient is inactive, they don’t bother reaching out as long as the account is still active and subscription fees are still paid.
At first my issue with Talkspace was the service from the therapists themselves, but I realized that this kind of interaction was not what I needed.
I found myself editing my messages and making sure I was fully communicating how I was feeling, but what was missing from the interactions were my unedited gut reactions. A good in-person therapist can react to your body language, your facial expressions, your eye movement, your tone of voice. While we call it mental health, the state that we’re in mentally manifests physically.
I read this article about Talkspace on The Verge a couple weeks ago and it was actually eye opening.
I’m not going to go deep into and recap the article. I think if you’ve ever considered Talkspace, or still are, you should absolutely read this article.
The piece goes into the quality of the service, and the fine line that the company walks regarding privacy and ethics.
Personally, I will never again use the service, but I came to that conclusion prior to this article. It wasn’t what I needed. Now I know I made the right decision.
See for yourself.