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Talkspace.com / Review

Posted: Aug 17, 2014 by   User 
Complaint Rating:  86 % with 14 votes
86% 14
4.3
Contact information:
Groop Internet Platform Inc DBA Talkspace.com
Unknown, United States
talkspace.com
Talkspace.com is a website where you sign up and get therapy with a licensed(?) therapist via asynchronous chat. You pay a weekly fee and you get to send text/chat messages to a therapist and they provide formal, clinical therapy to you.

I tried this service and immediately I noticed I was at first getting cut-and-pasted replies...I felt like I was in a Comcast tech support session. But after 3 hours, I did get a real person finally reply to me, which was nice. But then, I suddenly realized that our chat "session" may not be entirely private. Since all therapy sessions take place directly within the talkspace.com website, I had this sinking feeling that my confidentiality was not protected.

SO I immediately read the "privacy statement" of Talkspace and guess what? All of your intimate details, INCLUDING YOUR ENTIRE THERAPY SESSION is "saved" in a remote database not controlled by the therapist. I believe this could possibly be in direct violation of licensing laws or HIPPA (I'm not sure, I'm not a lawyer, so someone can clarify this).

I actually had shared intimate details about my personal life to my therapist there, and then I realized that Talkspace.com has the full ability to review my entire therapy session.

Here is their own "privacy policy:", I quote (as of 16 August 2014)

"Talkspace is a "DBA" used by Groop Internet Platform Inc. who runs the site and keeps the Data...Generally, we will only use your information within our company. "

So my private, intimate details of my clinical therapy session is now subject to being "used" witihn their company. So how many people are in their company? Who is Talkspace.com? Where are they located? Sadly, I have no idea...they don't give us this information on their website (that I could find)

On their website there is no 'about us" link, no names, no address, no phone numbers of anyone about the company. So the people running "talkspace.com" are keeping themselves nameless. WHo knows how many people are behind the scenes, and yet they all have access to your full therapy session. I find this troubling to say the least.

Do you want some IT guy being able to read all about your personal problems? It reminds me of actual reported incidents of TSA agents looking at photos of naked people going through body scanners and laughing amongst themselves.

I refuse to use a service that has therapy sessions within their own chat channels that are not HIPPA certified and who reserve the right to read it if they want to. Absolutely not.

Now, let me show you something really frightening. Look at this line in their privacy policy:

"We only provide data to our partners, if any, after we have removed your name and any other personally identifying information from it, or have combined it with other people's data in a way that it no longer personally identifies you"

What does this tell you? This means that workers in their company who are not therapists will comb through your personal data to strip out your personal identifying information before they send it away to their "partners". Let me ask you a question: how could someone redact your name from something unless they FIRST READ IT? DO you really want non-therapists and IT workers reading about your marriage problems so they can scrutinize all your personal life to make sure they take out your name and address?

This isn't clincal therapy to me. This is more like "social media". When you go to a therapist in person, I assure you, your information is far more private than it will be at talkspace.com...at least from what I am reading regarding their own privacy policies.

Needless to say, I terminated my therapy session. I will not go back.

Furthermore, therapists are not always licensed to perform therapy to clients out of state...these laws differ by state and I see no mention on Talkspace that any given therapist is properly licensed to provide formal therapy to me when I reside out of state to that therapist. For example, in some states verbal consent may be required before a therapist can give ethical online therapy to a client out of state, and yet 100% of Talkspace (as far as I can tell) is chat only.

Lastly, I find the whole concept of reducing therapy to a 'subscription' model of texting to be inferior to in person counseling, but that is just my opinion. Professional therapy to me is not an Internet forum, but that is what it all feels like.
Complaint comments Comments (16)    Updated: Complaint country United States Complaint category Health & Beauty

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D  15th of Feb, 2015 by  User  Agree Disagree 0 Votes
HIPAA doesn't have a certification program.
Data can be stored off-site or remotely with violating HIPAA. TalkSpace's data may also be (and most likely IS) encrypted so that no one can access it or that any and all access is monitored. Your medical records are LEGALLY moved around all the time electronically - to and from remote servers, in and out of various databases (philanthropy, marketing, billing, etc.), to and from different medical providers/health systems, etc., so if you're going to freak out about privacy, this isn't the place to start. Plus, therapists take notes during in-person session. Though this is not the same as recording a conversation, it's a recording, of sorts, of your conversation broken down into quick notes. That's not a HIPAA violation. It's only a HIPAA violation if someone ELSE accesses that information. It's certainly much easier to swipe a file off someone's desk than it is to erase your tracks after accessing a medical record that you had no business being in. I wouldn't worry. I think this is an overly paranoid review. BUT that's just my opinion - you make up your own mind.
N  16th of May, 2015 by  User  Agree Disagree -1 Votes
I am also concerned about the true identity of the people behind the scenes who run this website. Something seems off about it to me as well, and I don't find this review paranoid at all. It is the lack of total transparency on the site that is a red flag to me to begin with. They need to address privacy first and foremost on their website. But when you click Privacy on the actual website you are taken to this page. http://support.talkspace.com/public/privacy-policy - It is a 404 FILE NOT FOUND page for those who are interested. (I actually laughed out loud when I clicked it. I mean seriously? Is this a joke?!) When you click on Frequently Asked Questions about privacy ...The response is a two sentence long message that tells you "Oh you're safe" ... That's essentially what it says in a nutshell. The only assurance you get is that they have to follow HIPAA guidelines. Well if you read the fine print with HIPAA there are multiple loopholes in how your data is handled. And I'm not sure what any of it really means as it pertains to the Internet. But I have a sneaking suspicion that there is something seriously sketchy happening with this site. I can imagine people's deepest secrets and vulnerabilities might be worth a pretty penny in some circles... How else would this be sooooooo affordable? They're charging you very little to be available to you 24/7? I was in therapy ... My therapist charged 60 bucks for one hour online. Therapy is not cheap. It is certainly not this cheap. The money they're charging isn't where the money really is. It is in your personal information. I for one am avoiding this site.
A  19th of May, 2015 by  User  Agree Disagree +1 Votes
I have also been super disappointed by the lack of professionalism of this site. It honestly seems like it is copy and paste, they make it seem like you are in a "private space" but anyone could be reading what you write. I had even addressed to my "therapist" that she didn't even have a photo up near her "biography" so I felt like I was talking to a bot. She said she'd "look into it". (She never fixed this.) It felt like I wasn't talking to a person, for the money that they charge, I'm uncomfortable with it, the lack of transparency of who they are and unfortunately it's just not for me. Will be canceling.
N  3rd of Jul, 2015 by  User  Agree Disagree +3 Votes
This really is not worth it.

I gave it a shot. It took about 24 hours for me to be assigned a therapist when I was told it would likely be the night of. Your therapist usually only responds once a day. This was infuriating for me, because over the course of a week I mostly got questions. "It seems like you're saying this, is that correct?" Simply parroting back what I say is not useful by any means. After a week I cancelled.

I called twice to ask about a refund. Was immediately put on hold and then disconnected. Twice. I emailed about a refund as well, and got a form letter about how to cancel. After sending them yet another email finally they told me they don't do refunds, which I should have deduced from their vague FAQ page.

Simply put. I felt like just one of many clients with my therapist. I got sparse responses. The amount I said in a week I could have said in 15 minutes in person. Just text a close friend and save yourself the money.
A  22nd of Aug, 2015 by  User  Agree Disagree +1 Votes
In one week I got 7 replies from my therapist. In that same amount of time I sent 52 messages.
N  26th of Aug, 2015 by  User  Agree Disagree +1 Votes
Karatechop250 -- were the 7 comments target or just flippant? just curious as I have been investigating the authenticity and value of this platform as well. It's a brave new world of support out there and likely more and more of these companies will arise to serve the "digital natives"


N  31st of Aug, 2015 by  User  Agree Disagree 0 Votes
I happen to be a therapist (licensed) that is in the process of getting on to Talkspace to provide therapy via their HIPPA compliant platform. Let me tell you, from this prospective, that there are many checks and balances that we have to go through in order to become a therapist with Talkspace. I believe they are doing a thorough job with interviewing and testing their prospective therapists. Now, I do believe for every one good therapist, there are five not so good ones that may only respond once a day. Unfortunately, you may have had an unlucky match up. I have been practicing in this field for quite sometime now, and it is sad to see some people make it through as therapists when he/she really should not be practicing in the field! I believe technology has moved our society to a place where we all have to figure out how to move with the times because there is no going back now (this deeply saddens me). So, with Talkspace, I believe they are trying to move with the times and like every thing else, there will be kinks and such to work out. I am actually pleased with Talkspace as a therapist so far and believe people can greatly benefit but within the boundaries that texting allows. NOTHING will replace good ol' fashioned face-to-face therapy but we don't live on those times anymore due to technology. Let's embrace because you have no idea how this service may have played a hand in one less suicide in the world!
N  31st of Aug, 2015 by  User  Agree Disagree +1 Votes
What about the issue with therapists responding to Talkspace clients living in states that the clinician is not licensed in? This and anonymous clients pose a number a legal land mines for licensed clinicians.

Is there any talk of these limitations and dangers to the practitioners signed on with Talkspace?

If I can I will reference an interesting blog-take on this very topic: "Should Buyers Beware? Hidden Risks In Talkspace's Text-Only Therapy" by Todd Essig: http://www.forbes.com/sites/toddessig/2015/06/29/should-buyers-beware-hidden-risks-in-talkspaces-text-only-therapy/2/
N  28th of Sep, 2015 by  User  Agree Disagree +3 Votes
I think these complaints ignore the fact that some people find it much much easier to discuss their intimate problems over text, immediately, than face to face. I've had three face to face therapists and each time I've failed to return because I felt self conscious, embarrassed and not sure what is expected of me. Worst is having an awful weekend and then pulling yourself together for the session and feeling fine. Absolutely fine and not being able to discuss the things which raced through your head 48 hours earlier. Text services aren't ideal for everyone, but you just need to dive into the depths of the internet to see how many people are more willing to anonymously discuss the depths of their mind with a stranger than face a therapist. I'd rather that stranger was qualified and there to cure me, and teach me, not exacerbate my negative thoughts
A  24th of Dec, 2015 by  User  Agree Disagree 0 Votes
As a psychologist myself I would warn against this "service" unless you're looking for a coach but it's certainly NOT therapy and for any clinicians considering this I would suggest you check with your board first and consider your lack of control regarding client records. Let me give you a little scenario... Imagine you're working with a client who after trying to reach you many times over a several day period ends up commits suicide. Well lets add to this that there was a problem with the Talkspace's messaging platform and you never got those messages but now an angry and grieving family needs someone to blame so you know, it's going to be you...

Fast forward, your in court and let me ask you this... How exactly would you defend yourself? You can't prove there was nothing in the last "session" that indicated your client was in such distress. It's a conflict of interest and you will be blocked from access to any records that may vindicate you and hold them accountable. In the end imagine you walk away from that drama reasonably intact, you'll still have to answer to the board.

One last thing to mention, most psychologists frown upon this type of service for good reason, and look poorly upon "therapists" who engage these types of practices as it's a clear indication of poor professional judgement which means the "therapists" that you're likely to encounter on this "service" are not likely to be well respected or of high caliber in their ethics or clinical skills so think twice about where you share your secrets!
A  25th of Feb, 2016 by  User  Agree Disagree +3 Votes
I am also a licensed therapist, but I am currently on medical leave and leaving the house is incredibly hard for me. Ever appointment I've made to see a therapist had to be canceled due to health limitations, so I decided to try TalkSpace as a means of accessing therapy in the bed-ridden state I've been in. I worked with the assigned therapist for a month and only received one or two sentence replies like others have noted. Unfortunately, my experience went from disappointing to damaging, which is why I feel compelled to share it with other would-be clients. In a post to my therapist I shared that I was having racing thoughts and suicidal ideation, and that my depression was so severe that I was no longer eating and had lost 30 lbs in a month. Her response? I was congratulated on my weight loss. Apparently, this was an attempt to 'focus on the positive' in my life. This type of response is completely unacceptable. I contacted customer service and they assigned me a new therapist. It took several days since they 'take care to match you to the therapist that is right for you.' My newly assigned therapist is a marriage counselor. I am single. Needless to say I canceled the service.
N  31st of Mar, 2016 by  User  Agree Disagree 0 Votes
I believe you are better off contacting your local health insurance company to find a license therapist or a local pastor at a church than using talkspace. Talkspace is a waste of time They don't solve your problems, instead they just keep asking for more money and never give you a solution to your problems. Visit a therapist in person instead of using talkspace. They do not hold your privacy information to themselves . They divulged mine and got me baker acted and had a hospital bill for $20000. They asked me for my address and personal information. Christine Paul should be removed from talkspace since she gives one sentence answers and talkspace should be closed down permanently.
N  23rd of Apr, 2016 by  User  Agree Disagree +2 Votes
I'm a licensed theapist completing my first month of training (probation) and was surfing through these reviews because I wanted to get a feel for whether clients thought the service was helpful or not. I had many questions myself because it was a new platform for me and I wanted to make sure I was still able to ethically treat people who couldn't access face to face therapy. Re: The state lines thing, the informed consent portion tries to be transparent in having the client agree know that they would be agreeing to be treated as if in the therapist's state. Not a lawyer here.

One sentence responses are totally unacceptable and I'm sorry you experienced insensitive ones too. So far my goal for my Talkspace clients is to treat them like my face to face clients and really diving personally deep, despite how different that would look online (recently they allowed us to be creative with leaving audio/video snippets if the client is ok with that, and soon to be rolled out, live video sessions). I try to respond at least 2-3 times per day, 5 days per week.

That said, I wouldn't feel comfortable treating someone who had a high risk or acute condition and think they are more appropriate to be referred to a higher level of care. I think the initial consult therapists who match people up try to "catch that." The initial responses may sound scripted because they're legally required in order to make sure clients know what to expect. But the therapists are real people also trying to figure this new medium out with you. :)

Regarding the picture thing, we're all required to submit a headshot— but it usually gets uploaded after we passed all of our background checks and probation. Also all therapists have to be fully licensed-- no interns or post grad residents can apply.
N  17th of May, 2016 by  User  Agree Disagree +2 Votes
THis has all been very helpful. I am a therapist and considering doing therapy with Talkspace. However if they are dictating how one does therapy then I am not comfortable. One sentence responses and not really having an engaging session is not how Therapy is done. Even "coaching" is deeper than that. I have applied and am at the stage of sending back signed terms of areement and Non-Disclosing Undertaking. However, I do not yet have an understanding of how the whole program works, how the clients are matched how long sessions are and what the pay scale would be for client, prgram and therapist.
I have more questions than answers and cannot sign these documents without knowing more. That is why I went online to see if there was more information. I need to contact Talksapce to ask more questions before I sign anything.
I feel what i have read is helpful and people are being fair and honest, and no sour grapes, in their assessment and responses. Thank you all for taking time out of your busy schedules and lives to communicate about this kind of program.
It is keeping up with times in a sense. I do periodic SKYPE counseling with already established patients when I am away for a few weeks. It is only the client and me with no personal information shared with a third party and I keep my own notes. No taping of the session, etc. I am not comfortable with the company, "Talkspace, " sharing any of the conversations or responses with anyone! THis should be client and Therapist sessions only. If they want to have a Qualified, board certified therapist Case manager periodically attend a session to be sure therapist is being ethical and professional, that is different. But, who are these people using the dialog without names and why are they using them? Again, thank you all for your feedback.
N  20th of Jun, 2016 by  User  Agree Disagree +2 Votes
I am a Licensed Clinical Social Worker who has been forced to retire early due to my own physical health reasons. However, I am still very much qualified and able to provide therapy and have been looking into Talkspace and other sites. I am not sure if I want to try this due to the ethical questions I have and whether or not I will really be in control of my clients and their information and sessions. I am in favor of this type of therapy for clients who are not able to go into an office for traditional therapy but I feel the mental health issues being treated on line should be very limited and should not take the place of face to face interventions when needed. Sometimes the fact that someone is not "comfortable" in therapy should be part of the therapy itself. I am thinking of building my own website with safeguards and encryption so that I am the only one in control and with access to my clients personal information.
D  24th of Apr, 2017 by  User  Agree Disagree 0 Votes
I tried talkspace as a therapy tool. I found the platform terrible. The therapist had was poorly skilled. She did not seek so completely understand the situation. I frequently heard a baby crying in the background during her pre-recorded audio responses. So I am going to guess she was taking care of a baby while working so there was no time to really help me. This is really why I felt she did not serve me well. She would mis-quote my responses and go and on about other things that was not what I was seeking.

Complete fail. Do not use. Or if you do, use with extreme caution or else it will bite you in the end.

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