Why Use Picture Messaging in Online Therapy?

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If you’re reading this blog post, odds are you are at least somewhat familiar with Talkspace. If not, let me fill you in.

Talkspace is an online therapy platform and app that allows clients and therapists to send an unlimited number of messages back and forth, securely and confidentially. No commutes or scheduling — with all the benefits of traditional, in-person therapy. Needless to say, convenience and affordability are major selling points of the platform.

The vast majority of our users send texts, though many additionally rely on both video and audio messages. What may surprise you is that there is also a significant subset of people who regularly communicate using another format: picture messaging.

Continue reading Why Use Picture Messaging in Online Therapy?

Therapy for All

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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

Talkspace 2017 Mental Health Year in Review

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2017 was a big year — in politics, pop culture, and yes, in mental health. It was the inaugural year of Donald Trump’s presidency, which turned the political landscape of the United States upside down, and caused a wave of anxiety to ripple through the nation.

On the brighter side, 2017 has been a year of raising awareness — especially related to sexual harassment, gun violence, and the language we use to talk about mental illness.

In pop culture, we tragically lost mental health warrior Chester Bennington, but also watched as a new guard of celebrity spokespeople began to speak up about their mental health journeys. A tide may be turning.

Natural disasters like Hurricanes like Harvey, Maria, and Irma, and the fires in Southern California, were all national tragedies that, for many, became urgent fights for survival. These events were environmental crises, and forced us to examine how we respond to and treat trauma as a culture.

After sifting through the happenings of 2017, we present you with the Talkspace 2017 Mental Health Year in Review — spanning the good, the bad, and the ugly. Continue reading Talkspace 2017 Mental Health Year in Review

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

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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

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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

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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

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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

Talkspace Customer Support: When Mental Health Is On the Line

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In most companies, customer support is relatively simple and the stakes are low. The goal is to resolve issues that may arise with a product or service. Customer support representatives receive “tickets” that contain technical issues or complaints from customers. The reps respond and solve the problem. When necessary, they forward the ticket to another employee or “escalate” the issue by involving supervisors.

Even when there is a persistent technical problem or an upset customer, not much is truly on the line. Customers may be irritated if they need to wait a few extra days on a shipment or refund, but they’re OK.

Now imagine if a ticket could contain anything from anxiety to depression. The Talkspace customer support team works with these sensitive issues every day. Continue reading Talkspace Customer Support: When Mental Health Is On the Line

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

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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

Therapist Tips for How to Feel Better When Life Gets Tough

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When life is challenging, we reflexively ask ourselves, “How can I feel better — fast?” At Talkspace many people connect with one of our therapists when they are going through a crisis and need someone to throw them a line. To offer some collective therapeutic wisdom, we asked therapists which pieces of advice they tend to give to clients who are going through a rough time.

Sometimes suffering gives you the opportunity to learn more about yourself, other people, and the world. That knowledge will ultimately help you make better choices and perhaps avoid situations that cause stress or heartbreak.

“When you know better, you do better,” said Talkspace therapist Chandricka Mose. “Look at the experience and take away the lesson you were meant to learn.” Continue reading Therapist Tips for How to Feel Better When Life Gets Tough