*Before you jump in, I’m going to try my utmost best to write this blog in a way where everything makes sense. I started writing it on one day when my impression of the service was quite bad and now as I’m editing this and changing things around, my impression has changed a little. So I’m going to break things up as my first impression is still very important to note.
I just want to start off with saying that online counseling isn’t for everyone. Sometimes you will need one on one therapy and even though Talkspace provides therapy at great prices, I was anything but pleased with their service. I’m going to try my utmost best to explain everything; why I’m not renewing my subscription after one month and why I wouldn’t recommend it to friends and family.
Talkspace is a platform where you can match with a therapist online and communicate via an app or on the web. You have a choice between normal messaging, voice messages (5 minutes time limit), a video (2 minutes time limit) and you can also send images. Getting started is relatively easily.
You simply create an account and then you will chat with a matching therapist who will identify your therapy needs. I got a response almost immediately after I joined. It was so quick it took me awhile to figure out I wasn’t talking to an automated system and to an actual human being. They will ask you some questions to identify what you need with your therapy. After the assessment, they will send you the subscription/membership/payment (as you can see I had no idea what to call it) options.
You then choose the plan you desire, fill in all the payment details and then we move onto the next step. After the payment goes off in your bank, they will start to look for a match. This can take a few hours. I got three to start off with. You read the profile, every therapist has a little bio, and then choose your therapist. If none of the therapists are the right match for you, you can request new options. I found my first therapist relatively quickly and I stayed with her for one week.
The idea of therapy spun me into a spiral of emotions. It was scary but I knew it was the right step forward. At this point, I had no qualms with the app/service itself and I’m not holding anything against the first therapist, but well it wasn’t a good match. I felt that my responses weren’t being read and half of our messages was fill in this or would you consider taking drugs for your depression and etc. She did respond with almost technical messages but it just wasn’t enough. What I wanted from her was 1) a response to my messages so I felt like I was being heard and 2) informative responses. Her approach to therapy is to ask open questions and have well me fill in the blanks but I found this nearly impossible. It was incredibly frustrating. The main thing we struggled with is my extreme emotional episodes. Over reaction of some sorts. She would instruct that in the moment I need to think if I’m over reacting or if my response to what’s happening is ‘normal’. This just rubbed me up the wrong way. For starters how can I tell if my reaction is normal or not. My abuse started when I was ten years old. I don’t know any other way how to respond to things. An open question isn’t going to help. If she followed this open question with more guidance, maybe we would’ve gotten somewhere. But I was just more distressed than anything else.
After one week with her as a therapist, I decided that Talkspace isn’t for me. I cancelled my subscription with every intention to find a therapist I can see one on one. As it wasn’t that much cheaper and I wasn’t getting the attention I needed, it was just the right choice for me at that moment. At this point, I might’ve still recommended the app to friends and family. As I had three more weeks of paid time left, I figured I should at least try another therapist. I was open to the idea and if the next therapist ticked off all of the boxes, I would renew my subscription and continue with the service. The first few days were great. The first week really. The responses was just what I wanted. She responded to what I was saying while guiding me slowly forward. She send voice messages and even videos which sparked me to respond more. I made my own voice messages and for the first time; it felt like I was in therapy. It was going really well. One message a day. That’s acceptable. Ideally I would’ve preferred two messages a day but well beggars can’t be choosers. But very quickly, the time in between messages became longer and longer. DAYS went by without any response and if I would get a response it was shorter. I felt like I was no longer being heard and she was distracted. Her attention and focus wasn’t on my therapy. Simply put she didn’t have the time for my problems. This was incredibly disappointing. On the website they promise regular responses. 1-2 times PER DAY. In my third and fourth week of my service, I was lucky if I got 1-2 response A WEEK! To be frank, I just wasn’t getting what I paid for. This is the main reason why I wouldn’t recommend Talkspace to the next person. Another reason is simply that I’m not getting what I need out of online therapy. Now I can’t be sure if my opinion would’ve changed if I actually got therapy everyday but as I stand now, it’s just not the right fit for me.
Now it wasn’t a complete waste of money. Well technically I barely got what I paid for and I will definitely email support and see what I can do. Hopefully I can get some type of refund. Although my first impression on their refund policy is, the chances of you actually getting a refund is ridiculously small. I could be wrong and I really hope that I am, but yeah. Honestly I’m not impressed at all. The only reason why this experience wasn’t a waste of money is that I genuinely took a step forward for my mental health and recovery. Although I felt like I did most of the work myself. The first week with my second therapist was incredibly helpful. It just wasn’t worth the 191 Euros I paid for the month because in all honestly I felt like I only received therapy in that one week.
My impression/opinion now:
*This next part is an update from future Cassy who received an email from customer support.
The day I wrote this blog (17 September 2018), I emailed customer support afterwards and simply said that I was disappointed in their service as I felt like I didn’t receive what I paid for and if we could arrange some sort of compensation. I made it quite clear that my first two weeks I did receive regular messages. In all honesty I didn’t expect much, maybe a discount code. My impression of the service was just sour if I’m straight with you. Therapy is such a personal and vulnerable thing and as I felt like I was constantly putting myself out there and I just wasn’t getting what I needed in return…well the fact that all the promises weren’t met didn’t help the matter. Two things happened on the day I heard from customer support. For starters my therapist responded to me after one week of silence. I received her message in the morning. It was short and I could hear one of my favorite TV shows in the background. The theme song. She also didn’t respond to all of my messages so that really just rubbed me up the wrong way. Here I was desperately trying and working on my therapy and then she sends me a message clearly distracted and not focused on responding to everything I asked her about. I specifically asked her a few questions as I knew my subscription was running out and I wasn’t sure if I would renew or not. I asked her about bad days and whatnot, something I struggle with severely, and well when she responded to me for the first time in a week with a lackluster short reply where I could only start to doubt that she even listened to everything I send her…it was just the last thing I needed. Online therapy isn’t for me. There is just no chance I would renew my subscription and continue with the service.
Later that afternoon, I however received a response to my email. They apologized for my less than optimal experience with their services. Their message was sincere and they offered a full refund. This completely changed my impression of the company itself. I was completely and utterly surprised that they would refund me for the month and well if a company is ready to admit that they didn’t offer what they promised, then they’re clearly on the right path. Even though my experience with the actual therapy was anything to be desired, the company itself definitely won me back. By taking responsibility for their service, they changed my opinion. I can now say that I would recommend the company to friends and family. I do however hope you have better luck with finding a therapist that will be the right match for you but if not at least you tried it.
I personally would not use the service again. Or any online counseling to be precise. Even though for just a week there when the second therapist was actually committed to well giving me therapy, it still isn’t the right fit for me. I need to talk to someone face to face. One on one. I really can’t say with full confidence that my disappointing service from the two therapists influenced this decision but well if you’re struggling and you want someone to talk to, at least give it a try. You can only say once you’ve tried it yourself if it’s the right match for you or not. So I recommend that you at least try it and if you don’t like it, there is different options out there. There is books, other websites, online communities and so much more. Your mental health is important.
Before I go, over the weekend I got an email from TalkSpace, one of those promotional ones. They send a $65 discount code off on your first month and I’m going to share it with you: FALL65 (This email was send to me on the 29th of September 2018. I have no idea how long this code will be valid.)
Thank you so much for reading and I will see you in a click!
Disclaimer: I’m not affiliated with TalkSpace at all. I paid for their service, got my refund when the said service was disappointing and a week after my subscription ended, I got the email with the discount code. This is not a personal code they created for me where I pocket the difference or any of that. It was a promotional email and I simply wanted to share the code for those who want to try out online counseling.