Free Online Therapy: Understanding Therapy vs. Free Counseling

Woman on couch with hands open, talking to a therapist

Online therapy is fast becoming the norm for those seeking therapy on their own terms. A recent study found online therapy to be as effective as face-to-face (FTF) therapy in treating major mental health challenges like anxiety disorders and depressive symptoms. The same study regards online therapy as a “treatment for the future.”

When evaluating online therapy options, there are many avenues to take depending on your mental health challenges. The first avenue should always be to seek professional help — self-diagnosis can be a dangerous game. Therapy remains the next best step, and in exploring online therapy options, you may encounter offers claiming “free” online therapy.

Continue reading Free Online Therapy: Understanding Therapy vs. Free Counseling

Better Mental Health for All

Children smiling and giving the peace sign

This year’s message for World Health Day was “Health For All.” According to the World Health Organization (WHO), “at least half of the world’s population still do not have full coverage of essential health services.” Their goal is to see one billion more people given access to full health care services by 2023.

While Talkspace’s mission has always been “Therapy For All,” we’re actively championing an even more universal goal across the globe: “Better Mental Health For All,”. This includes campaigning for mental health coverage as part of universal health care, and being an active part of the important conversation around mental health.

Continue reading Better Mental Health for All

Therapy for All

smiling young asian woman in hat using text therapy

Therapy for all isn’t simply a slogan. It isn’t just a philosophy. Therapy for all is an imperative. Mental illness is a global health problem and, in the United States specifically, 1 in 5 adults suffers from mental illness in a given year. Look around you: I’d hazard a guess that one person in your direct vicinity has dealt with a mental health challenge in the past year.

In fact, a recent study by psychology researchers Aaron Reuben and Jonathan Schaefer has shown that we are more likely to experience a bout of mental illness than we are to develop diabetes, heart disease, or any kind of cancer. And yet it’s far more common (and, yes, culturally acceptable) to fear eating too much sugar and fat than it is to consider the possibility of seeking out mental health care.

Continue reading Therapy for All

Why You Should Unplug this Holiday Season, According to a Therapist

woman holding unplug mug snowy winter day

Near the end of each year most of us are chomping at the bit, anxiously awaiting some much-needed downtime. As business slows down and responsibilities wane, people look forward to much-needed rest and rejuvenation. This break is also an opportunity to finally unplug.

There’s a lot of emerging research on the effects of technology use on our collective mental health, but what’s most important to understand about technology is how ubiquitous connectivity can exacerbate worry, fear, sadness and a host of other emotions. If unchecked, this effect could contribute to mental fatigue. Continue reading Why You Should Unplug this Holiday Season, According to a Therapist

Are Body Language and Tone Necessary for Therapy to Be Effective?

woman walking outside holing smartphone texting

Now that purely text-based therapy has taken off and has a growing number of studies backing its efficacy, mental health professionals and researchers are debating whether psychotherapy needs body language and tone to produce results. To compare the effectiveness of texting therapy with other mediums, the psychological community needs to think about what treatment outcomes are most important. As the practice of therapy has evolved, so has its priorities.

For many decades psychotherapy had only one format: a therapist and client in a room. Despite the requirement for both parties to be in the same physical space — within viewing distance — the early days of mental health counseling did not utilize body language to its full potential. Many patients lay on a couch and faced in the opposite direction of their therapists. To act as a “blank screen,” practitioners of psychoanalysis participated minimally in sessions and encouraged their patients to speak as much as possible. Continue reading Are Body Language and Tone Necessary for Therapy to Be Effective?

How a Legendary Psychiatrist Became a Supporter of Text Therapy

irvin-yalom-headshot-text-therapy-feature_1320W_JR (1)

Even the most wise and open-minded professionals in the world sometimes have a skeptical or critical perception of new developments in their field. Several years ago Talkspace co-founders Oren and Roni Frank reached out to renowned psychiatrist Irvin Yalom to discuss their texting therapy platform and invite Yalom to become an official clinical advisor. His initial reaction to the new medium was not positive.

Yalom contributed to the approach of existential psychotherapy and was a pioneer in group therapy. As a therapist and professor, he spent decades working with clients in-person. He wrote “Creatures of a Day: And Other Tales of Psychotherapy,” a book that chronicled some of his traditional counseling sessions with patients who were grappling with issues of existence and death.

Far from a technology enthusiast or early adopter, Yalom had been resistant to forms of therapy that were not strictly in-person, including phone and video-based sessions. In his memoir, “Becoming Myself,” he admitted to being judgmental and priggish when one of his colleagues mentioned she had been practicing teletherapy. Continue reading How a Legendary Psychiatrist Became a Supporter of Text Therapy

How Online Therapy Can Help You Reach Your Goals

mountain checkpoints paper airplane illustration

John was having trouble managing his impulses. Whether it was blurting out vulgar language during a dinner with his girlfriend’s parents or crossing a line and insulting his boss in the middle of a meeting, he was constantly getting in trouble. To advance in his career and maintain a healthy relationship, he needed to change. Eventually he decided to set a goal: control what was coming out of his mouth.

This strategy failed miserably. John realized that the goal was vague and there was no one to help him reach it. It did not seem fair to burden his girlfriend and co-workers with his behavior. He needed the help of a neutral party but wasn’t sure where to find one.

One of the biggest benefits of therapy is working with a professional you are paying to help set goals that are realistic and measurable. A therapist keeps clients accountable and pushes them to pursue what they want. Continue reading How Online Therapy Can Help You Reach Your Goals

The Experience of In-Person Versus Online Therapy

man holding smartphone on couch

The majority of clients at Talkspace are trying therapy for the first time. With only online therapy as a frame of reference, they can’t draw comparisons to in-person treatment. This fact demonstrates, however, that online therapy removes barriers — high cost and inconvenience — that typically deter people from seeking professional mental health support.

Nonetheless, many users have extensive experience inside a therapist’s office. Some commuted to weekly therapy sessions for years before switching to online therapy. Others have continued their in-person treatment and used Talkspace as a complimentary service.

To illustrate what it is like to navigate the differences between in-person and online therapy, we surveyed our clients who had been open about their experiences with both. Here is what they taught us: Continue reading The Experience of In-Person Versus Online Therapy

When You’re Not Sure What To Say to Your Online Therapist

woman sunglasses texting frowning confused

Therapy can be super awkward. And necessarily so if you’re discussing difficult material. Even if you are talkative and gregarious, you might not know what to say during certain parts of your therapeutic journey. This can be even more of a challenge during online texting therapy because you don’t get your therapist’s visual cues that might prompt you to say something more on a topic.

To help you continue therapy without hesitation when you’re feeling stuck, shy, or just don’t know what to discuss, we created this guide for communicating with therapists online. Use it as a reference whenever you draw a blank or aren’t sure what to say.

Starting the Conversation With Your Therapist

Your therapist will most likely ask several questions to get the ball rolling. Nonetheless, there will be times during the beginning of therapy when you might need to start the conversation. If you can’t think of anything, try one or more of the following: Continue reading When You’re Not Sure What To Say to Your Online Therapist

The History of Online Therapy

rotary phone smartphone

Online therapy has many definitions. Depending on which one you use, its history has a different beginning.

Most of the people who have catalogued the history of online therapy use broader definitions. Some historians believe it began during the 1972 International Conference on Computers when Stanford and UCLA staff used linked computers to demonstrate a psychotherapy session. This wasn’t a real psychotherapy session with a licensed therapist and — unlike the modern internet — was limited to that small network of computers. It did, however, at least demonstrate the idea of online therapy.

If you include therapy via the phone as part of online therapy, the history starts even earlier. Records of the first private call between a psychotherapist and client are lost in confidentiality. Nonetheless, it is clear people were using the phone to provide mental health support as early as the 1960s. Continue reading The History of Online Therapy