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{"id":556244533321,"title":"Talkspace Review: As Effective As Regular Therapy?","created_at":"2022-02-24T12:27:42-05:00","body_html":"\u003cscript type=\"application\/ld+json\"\u003e\/\/ \u003c![CDATA[\n{\n \"@context\": \"https:\/\/schema.org\",\n \"@type\": \"Article\",\n \"headline\": \"Talkspace Review: As Effective As Regular Therapy?\",\n \"keywords\": \"talkspace, talkspace review, talkspace reviews, talkspace cost, talkspace price, betterhelp vs talkspace, does talkspace take insurance\",\n \"description\": \"Our MD and research team reviews the medical research on online therapy vs. in-person, as well as some research published about Talkspace, to determine whether it's as effective as in-person therapy and whether we'd recommend it.\",\n \"url\": \"https:\/\/illuminatelabs.org\/blogs\/health\/talkspace-review\",\n\"author\": {\n \"@type\": \"Person\",\n \"name\": \"Taylor Graber MD\",\n \"url\": \"https:\/\/illuminatelabs.org\/pages\/taylor-graber\",\n \"sameAs\": \"https:\/\/www.linkedin.com\/in\/taylor-j-graber-md-81351642\/\",\n \"jobTitle\": \"Content Partner\",\n \"knowsAbout\": \"medicine, health, anesthesiology, iv therapy, science, drugs, pharmaceutical, medical research, scientific research, medical journals, entrepreneurship, healthcare, orthopedic surgery, biomedical engineering\",\n \"alumniOf\": {\n \"@type\": \"EducationalOrganization\",\n \"name\": [\n \"University of California San Diego\",\n \"Arizona University\",\n \"University of Arizona College of Medicine\"\n ]\n },\n \"memberOf\": {\n \"@type\": \"Organization\",\n \"name\": \"Illuminate Labs\"\n }\n},\n\"contributor\": {\n \"@type\": \"Person\",\n \"name\": \"Calloway Cook\",\n \"url\": \"https:\/\/illuminatelabs.org\/pages\/calloway-cook\",\n \"sameAs\": \"https:\/\/www.linkedin.com\/in\/calloway-cook\/\",\n \"jobTitle\": \"President\",\n \"knowsAbout\": \"entrepreneurship, dietary supplements, herbal supplements, eCommerce, medical research\",\n \"alumniOf\": {\n \"@type\": \"EducationalOrganization\",\n \"name\": \"S.I. 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We recommend that patients follow their doctor’s guidance in regard to online therapy.\u003c\/span\u003e\u003c\/i\u003e\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003cp\u003e\u003cspan style=\"font-weight: 400;\"\u003e\u003cspan class=\"dc\"\u003eT\u003c\/span\u003ealkspace is the most popular online therapy application, and offers a range of options from individual therapy to couples therapy and psychiatric care. The site boasts that they already have over 1 million users.\u003c\/span\u003e\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003cp\u003e\u003cspan style=\"font-weight: 400;\"\u003eBut is online therapy as effective as in-person therapy? Are there downsides? \u003c\/span\u003e\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003cp\u003e\u003cspan style=\"font-weight: 400;\"\u003eIn this article we’ll review the medical research on online therapy vs. in-person, as well as some research published on Talkspace specifically, to determine whether we’d recommend it to consumers.\u003c\/span\u003e\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003ch2 style=\"text-align: center;\"\u003e\u003cb\u003eMedical Research on Talkspace\u003c\/b\u003e\u003c\/h2\u003e\n\u003cp\u003e\u003cspan style=\"font-weight: 400;\"\u003eThere has been some research published in established medical journals about Talkspace in the past few years.\u003c\/span\u003e\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003cp\u003e\u003cspan style=\"font-weight: 400;\"\u003eA \u003c\/span\u003e\u003ca href=\"https:\/\/pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov\/33502999\/\"\u003e\u003cspan style=\"font-weight: 400;\"\u003e2021 clinical trial\u003c\/span\u003e\u003c\/a\u003e\u003cspan style=\"font-weight: 400;\"\u003e published in the JMIR Formative Research journal examined patterns of Talkspace intake inquiries, and was able to establish that the pandemic was causing many more incidents of anxiety than depression.\u003c\/span\u003e\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003cp\u003e\u003cspan style=\"font-weight: 400;\"\u003eThis research wasn’t to evaluate whether or not Talkspace worked, but it proved that the platform can provide valuable population insights that can help inform doctors and therapists.\u003c\/span\u003e\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003cp\u003e\u003cspan style=\"font-weight: 400;\"\u003eAnother \u003c\/span\u003e\u003ca href=\"https:\/\/www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov\/pmc\/articles\/PMC7291694\/\"\u003e\u003cspan style=\"font-weight: 400;\"\u003estudy\u003c\/span\u003e\u003c\/a\u003e\u003cspan style=\"font-weight: 400;\"\u003e more directly tested the effectiveness of Talkspace for improving mental health conditions. The researchers examined the results from over 10,000 Talkspace users, tracking how their anxiety and depression was affected over the course of 12 weeks of therapy.\u003c\/span\u003e\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003cp\u003e\u003cspan style=\"font-weight: 400;\"\u003eThe study authors found that Talkspace was effective for improving both anxiety and depression outcomes, with around 30% of patients experiencing complete remission of their symptoms, and around 37% experiencing improvement from baseline.\u003c\/span\u003e\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003cp\u003e\u003cspan style=\"font-weight: 400;\"\u003eIt’s worth noting that one of the 5 authors of the study is a Talkspace employee, and another received consulting fees from Talkspace, so there is some level of bias. However we still think the study was well-designed and the research is valuable given such a large set of respondents.\u003c\/span\u003e\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003cp\u003e\u003cspan style=\"font-weight: 400;\"\u003eAn ongoing \u003c\/span\u003e\u003ca href=\"https:\/\/pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov\/34728440\/\"\u003e\u003cspan style=\"font-weight: 400;\"\u003estudy\u003c\/span\u003e\u003c\/a\u003e\u003cspan style=\"font-weight: 400;\"\u003e using Talkspace is going to compare the results of text-based therapy to video-based therapy for depression patients, and the results should be published later this year. \u003c\/span\u003e\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003cp\u003e\u003cspan style=\"font-weight: 400;\"\u003eWhat’s clear to us is that whether or not Talkspace is more effective than in-person therapy on average, the data that will result from Talkspace usage and medical studies can improve patient outcomes. It’s much easier to aggregate and analyze data from a digital mental health platform than from millions of in-person sessions, so we think Talkspace is a net positive to society in that regard.\u003c\/span\u003e\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003ch2 style=\"text-align: center;\"\u003e\u003cb\u003eTalkspace Vs. In-Person Therapy\u003c\/b\u003e\u003c\/h2\u003e\n\u003cp\u003e\u003cspan style=\"font-weight: 400;\"\u003eThe question most patients are curious about when considering Talkspace is whether it’s as effective as seeing a therapist in person. Of course individual responses will vary, but there has been some research on this topic.\u003c\/span\u003e\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003cp\u003e\u003cspan style=\"font-weight: 400;\"\u003eA 2022 \u003c\/span\u003e\u003ca href=\"https:\/\/pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov\/34904742\/\"\u003e\u003cspan style=\"font-weight: 400;\"\u003estudy\u003c\/span\u003e\u003c\/a\u003e\u003cspan style=\"font-weight: 400;\"\u003e compared the results of virtual vs. in-person therapy for eating disorders, and found results to be comparable. Not only was patient satisfaction similar, but the documented weight gain (in patients who had a medical need for weight gain) was similar also.\u003c\/span\u003e\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003cp\u003e\u003cspan style=\"font-weight: 400;\"\u003eThis suggests that online therapy may be just as effective as in-person for eating disorder treatment, but this was a small study using self-report assessments. Much more data is needed from future studies to validate these results.\u003c\/span\u003e\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003cp\u003e\u003cspan style=\"font-weight: 400;\"\u003eA \u003c\/span\u003e\u003ca href=\"https:\/\/pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov\/33826190\/\"\u003e\u003cspan style=\"font-weight: 400;\"\u003ecomprehensive review\u003c\/span\u003e\u003c\/a\u003e\u003cspan style=\"font-weight: 400;\"\u003e of in-person psychotherapy versus videoconference psychotherapy was recently published in the Clinical Psychology \u0026amp; Psychotherapy journal. The study authors of this review analyzed over 100 individual trials on in-person and virtual psychotherapy. They concluded that “therapy is no less efficacious when delivered via videoconferencing than in-person.”\u003c\/span\u003e\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003cp\u003e\u003cspan style=\"font-weight: 400;\"\u003eOne fascinating finding from the above-linked review is that video therapy was actually significantly \u003c\/span\u003e\u003ci\u003e\u003cspan style=\"font-weight: 400;\"\u003emore effective\u003c\/span\u003e\u003c\/i\u003e\u003cspan style=\"font-weight: 400;\"\u003e for Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), which is frequently used with affective disorders such as phobias or avoidance. This is potentially because CBT involves re-training the mental response to various stimuli, and undergoing this process in a relaxed setting at home may have additional benefits.\u003c\/span\u003e\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003cp\u003e\u003cspan style=\"font-weight: 400;\"\u003eMost Americans do still prefer in-person therapy \u003c\/span\u003e\u003ca href=\"https:\/\/pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov\/31304356\/\"\u003e\u003cspan style=\"font-weight: 400;\"\u003eaccording to research\u003c\/span\u003e\u003c\/a\u003e\u003cspan style=\"font-weight: 400;\"\u003e, but we would imagine this preference will continually decrease over time as the digital platforms improve and more patients become aware of the relative efficacy between the two therapy options.\u003c\/span\u003e\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003cp\u003e\u003cspan style=\"font-weight: 400;\"\u003eWe can conclude from the above research that Talkspace is likely to be as effective as visiting a therapist in-person on average. It’s important to highlight how these reviews only use averages across large study populations. \u003c\/span\u003e\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003cp\u003e\u003cspan style=\"font-weight: 400;\"\u003ePatients who feel that in-person therapy is a better option for them should absolutely seek in-person therapy, and we’re not trying to change opinions of patients who have a preference one way or another. We feel this information is valuable for patients who may be considering therapy for the first time, and are trying to compare between virtual and in-person options (and confirm whether virtual therapy even works).\u003c\/span\u003e\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003ch2 style=\"text-align: center;\"\u003e\u003cb\u003eTalkspace Cost\u003c\/b\u003e\u003c\/h2\u003e\n\u003cp\u003e\u003cspan style=\"font-weight: 400;\"\u003eTalkspace features different pricing plans based on type of therapy. Text-based therapy is the cheapest, starting at $69 weekly.\u003c\/span\u003e\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003cp\u003e\u003cspan style=\"font-weight: 400;\"\u003eVideotherapy starts at $99 per week and includes four 45-minute sessions per week.\u003c\/span\u003e\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003cp\u003e\u003cspan style=\"font-weight: 400;\"\u003eText and video therapy starts at $129 per week.\u003c\/span\u003e\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003cp\u003e\u003cspan style=\"font-weight: 400;\"\u003eThese are the out-of-pocket costs, but Talkspace may be covered by medical insurance as mentioned on their site. They claim that 40 million Americans now have insurance which would be covered.\u003c\/span\u003e\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003cp\u003e\u003cspan style=\"font-weight: 400;\"\u003eWe strongly recommend that patients considering Talkspace contact their insurance provider or check this \u003c\/span\u003e\u003ca href=\"https:\/\/www.talkspace.com\/partners\"\u003e\u003cspan style=\"font-weight: 400;\"\u003eresource page\u003c\/span\u003e\u003c\/a\u003e\u003cspan style=\"font-weight: 400;\"\u003e on their site to search your employer and insurer and check whether coverage is afforded.\u003c\/span\u003e\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003cp\u003e\u003cspan style=\"font-weight: 400;\"\u003eThe out-of-pocket cost of Talkspace is cheaper than the out-of-pocket cost of many in-person therapy providers, so it may be a good choice for lower-income patients seeking therapy, considering that virtual therapy has already been shown to be as effective on average.\u003c\/span\u003e\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003ch2 style=\"text-align: center;\"\u003e\u003cb\u003eTalkspace Vs. Betterhelp\u003c\/b\u003e\u003c\/h2\u003e\n\u003cp\u003e\u003cspan style=\"font-weight: 400;\"\u003eBetterhelp is another popular online therapy platform that offers similar therapy options.\u003c\/span\u003e\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003cp\u003e\u003cspan style=\"font-weight: 400;\"\u003eThe cost of Betterhelp ranges from $80 to $100 weekly according to their site, which is a slight improvement over Talkspace, given that Talkspace’s listed prices only have a lower range (meaning consumers can’t see what the upper range is).\u003c\/span\u003e\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003cp\u003e\u003cspan style=\"font-weight: 400;\"\u003eLike Talkspace, Betterhelp has been featured in several legitimate medical publications, including \u003c\/span\u003e\u003ca href=\"https:\/\/www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov\/pmc\/articles\/PMC6364202\/\"\u003e\u003cspan style=\"font-weight: 400;\"\u003ethis study\u003c\/span\u003e\u003c\/a\u003e\u003cspan style=\"font-weight: 400;\"\u003e published in JMIR which found Betterhelp to be effective for reducing depression severity.\u003c\/span\u003e\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003cp\u003e\u003cspan style=\"font-weight: 400;\"\u003eThe efficacy of online therapy is going to be much more tied to the actual provider (therapist) and not to the platform used in our opinion. There isn’t any clinical data suggesting that Talkspace or Betterhelp are more effective; they’re both platforms that allow you to video call with a therapist.\u003c\/span\u003e\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003cp\u003e\u003cspan style=\"font-weight: 400;\"\u003eWe recommend that patients comparing Talkspace and Betterhelp choose whichever option better fits their budget and insurance, because switching between therapists within one of the apps is likely to have a much bigger impact than switching between therapy apps.\u003c\/span\u003e\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003ch2 style=\"text-align: center;\"\u003e\u003cb\u003eConclusion\u003c\/b\u003e\u003c\/h2\u003e\n\u003cp\u003e\u003cspan style=\"font-weight: 400;\"\u003eTalkspace is proven effective for improving a wide range of mental disorders such as anxiety and depression. Early research suggests it’s just as effective as in-person therapy, and potentially even more effective for CBT.\u003c\/span\u003e\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003cp\u003e\u003cspan style=\"font-weight: 400;\"\u003eThere are some secondary benefits to digital counseling over in-person counseling, like saving the commute time and potentially improved attendance. A severely depressed patient may find it challenging to get out of the house and commute to their therapy appointment, but that same patient would likely find it easier and more convenient to take a virtual appointment. \u003c\/span\u003e\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003cp\u003e\u003cspan style=\"font-weight: 400;\"\u003eThere is no evidence that Talkspace or Betterhelp are more effective than one another, so we recommend choosing whichever option is cheaper or covered by your insurer.\u003c\/span\u003e\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003cp\u003e\u003cspan style=\"font-weight: 400;\"\u003eTherapy is an important and natural method of treating mental health disorders, and we recommend it to all patients who see a need.\u003c\/span\u003e\u003c\/p\u003e","blog_id":49281925193,"author":"Calloway Cook","user_id":26601750601,"published_at":"2022-02-24T15:21:42-05:00","updated_at":"2022-03-02T09:21:04-05:00","summary_html":"We review the medical research on online therapy vs. in-person, as well as some research published about online therapy app Talkspace, to determine whether it's as effective as in-person therapy and whether we'd recommend it.","template_suffix":"","handle":"talkspace-review","tags":"_related:mental-health, _related:therapy"}

Talkspace Review: As Effective As Regular Therapy?

Talkspace Review: As Effective As Regular Therapy?


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Read our Editorial Guidelines to learn more about what makes our site the premier resource for online health information.
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Read our Editorial Guidelines to learn more about what makes our site the premier resource for online health information.


Read our Editorial Guidelines to learn more about what makes our site the premier resource for online health information.

Disclaimer: None of the information in this article constitutes medical advice, and is just the opinion of the writer(s). We recommend that patients follow their doctor’s guidance in regard to online therapy.

Talkspace is the most popular online therapy application, and offers a range of options from individual therapy to couples therapy and psychiatric care. The site boasts that they already have over 1 million users.

But is online therapy as effective as in-person therapy? Are there downsides? 

In this article we’ll review the medical research on online therapy vs. in-person, as well as some research published on Talkspace specifically, to determine whether we’d recommend it to consumers.

Medical Research on Talkspace

There has been some research published in established medical journals about Talkspace in the past few years.

A 2021 clinical trial published in the JMIR Formative Research journal examined patterns of Talkspace intake inquiries, and was able to establish that the pandemic was causing many more incidents of anxiety than depression.

This research wasn’t to evaluate whether or not Talkspace worked, but it proved that the platform can provide valuable population insights that can help inform doctors and therapists.

Another study more directly tested the effectiveness of Talkspace for improving mental health conditions. The researchers examined the results from over 10,000 Talkspace users, tracking how their anxiety and depression was affected over the course of 12 weeks of therapy.

The study authors found that Talkspace was effective for improving both anxiety and depression outcomes, with around 30% of patients experiencing complete remission of their symptoms, and around 37% experiencing improvement from baseline.

It’s worth noting that one of the 5 authors of the study is a Talkspace employee, and another received consulting fees from Talkspace, so there is some level of bias. However we still think the study was well-designed and the research is valuable given such a large set of respondents.

An ongoing study using Talkspace is going to compare the results of text-based therapy to video-based therapy for depression patients, and the results should be published later this year. 

What’s clear to us is that whether or not Talkspace is more effective than in-person therapy on average, the data that will result from Talkspace usage and medical studies can improve patient outcomes. It’s much easier to aggregate and analyze data from a digital mental health platform than from millions of in-person sessions, so we think Talkspace is a net positive to society in that regard.

Talkspace Vs. In-Person Therapy

The question most patients are curious about when considering Talkspace is whether it’s as effective as seeing a therapist in person. Of course individual responses will vary, but there has been some research on this topic.

A 2022 study compared the results of virtual vs. in-person therapy for eating disorders, and found results to be comparable. Not only was patient satisfaction similar, but the documented weight gain (in patients who had a medical need for weight gain) was similar also.

This suggests that online therapy may be just as effective as in-person for eating disorder treatment, but this was a small study using self-report assessments. Much more data is needed from future studies to validate these results.

A comprehensive review of in-person psychotherapy versus videoconference psychotherapy was recently published in the Clinical Psychology & Psychotherapy journal. The study authors of this review analyzed over 100 individual trials on in-person and virtual psychotherapy. They concluded that “therapy is no less efficacious when delivered via videoconferencing than in-person.”

One fascinating finding from the above-linked review is that video therapy was actually significantly more effective for Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), which is frequently used with affective disorders such as phobias or avoidance. This is potentially because CBT involves re-training the mental response to various stimuli, and undergoing this process in a relaxed setting at home may have additional benefits.

Most Americans do still prefer in-person therapy according to research, but we would imagine this preference will continually decrease over time as the digital platforms improve and more patients become aware of the relative efficacy between the two therapy options.

We can conclude from the above research that Talkspace is likely to be as effective as visiting a therapist in-person on average. It’s important to highlight how these reviews only use averages across large study populations. 

Patients who feel that in-person therapy is a better option for them should absolutely seek in-person therapy, and we’re not trying to change opinions of patients who have a preference one way or another. We feel this information is valuable for patients who may be considering therapy for the first time, and are trying to compare between virtual and in-person options (and confirm whether virtual therapy even works).

Talkspace Cost

Talkspace features different pricing plans based on type of therapy. Text-based therapy is the cheapest, starting at $69 weekly.

Videotherapy starts at $99 per week and includes four 45-minute sessions per week.

Text and video therapy starts at $129 per week.

These are the out-of-pocket costs, but Talkspace may be covered by medical insurance as mentioned on their site. They claim that 40 million Americans now have insurance which would be covered.

We strongly recommend that patients considering Talkspace contact their insurance provider or check this resource page on their site to search your employer and insurer and check whether coverage is afforded.

The out-of-pocket cost of Talkspace is cheaper than the out-of-pocket cost of many in-person therapy providers, so it may be a good choice for lower-income patients seeking therapy, considering that virtual therapy has already been shown to be as effective on average.

Talkspace Vs. Betterhelp

Betterhelp is another popular online therapy platform that offers similar therapy options.

The cost of Betterhelp ranges from $80 to $100 weekly according to their site, which is a slight improvement over Talkspace, given that Talkspace’s listed prices only have a lower range (meaning consumers can’t see what the upper range is).

Like Talkspace, Betterhelp has been featured in several legitimate medical publications, including this study published in JMIR which found Betterhelp to be effective for reducing depression severity.

The efficacy of online therapy is going to be much more tied to the actual provider (therapist) and not to the platform used in our opinion. There isn’t any clinical data suggesting that Talkspace or Betterhelp are more effective; they’re both platforms that allow you to video call with a therapist.

We recommend that patients comparing Talkspace and Betterhelp choose whichever option better fits their budget and insurance, because switching between therapists within one of the apps is likely to have a much bigger impact than switching between therapy apps.

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Conclusion

Talkspace is proven effective for improving a wide range of mental disorders such as anxiety and depression. Early research suggests it’s just as effective as in-person therapy, and potentially even more effective for CBT.

There are some secondary benefits to digital counseling over in-person counseling, like saving the commute time and potentially improved attendance. A severely depressed patient may find it challenging to get out of the house and commute to their therapy appointment, but that same patient would likely find it easier and more convenient to take a virtual appointment. 

There is no evidence that Talkspace or Betterhelp are more effective than one another, so we recommend choosing whichever option is cheaper or covered by your insurer.

Therapy is an important and natural method of treating mental health disorders, and we recommend it to all patients who see a need.





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