Talk therapy: Can/Should you find a therapist online? An INTERVIEW with Talkspace

Can online therapy help you deal with your addiction problems? Is it possible to chat with a therapist from your home? More about how you can find and talk to a therapist online, here.

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Q: Can talk therapy work for addiction problems?
A: Absolutely!

In fact, cognitive and behavioral therapies (among other evidence-based practices) are STANDARD practices in addiction treatment. Based on scientific research since the mid 1970s, talk therapy should form the basis of any effective treatment program.

Goals of addiction treatment include:

  • getting to the root cause of psychoemotional problems
  • modifying attitudes and behaviors related to drug use
  • increasing healthy life coping skills
  • persisting with other forms of treatment, such as medication
  • Still, finding the courage to talk about an addiction problem(s) is not easy, but it is not impossible either. What if
  • therapy could be anonymous, simple and affordable? Would you be willing to try it?

Can online therapy work for you?

In order to understand online therapy and its usefulness when facing addiction problems we have invited Katherine Glick from Talkspace to share her perspective with us. In this interview we’ll explore the purpose of Talkspace, how it works, and the opportunities it provides. For any additional questions about the services of Talkspace, please feel free to use the section below. We always try to answer personally and promptly to all legitimate inquiries.

A mobile app for online therapy?

As a brief intro, Talkspace is a web and mobile app that connects people with addiction issues and licensed therapists. With the help of this app, once registered, you can talk with your therapist 24/7 and get the help you need.

ADDICTION BLOG: Talkspace, thank you for joining us! For a start, could you introduce our readers with the purpose of online therapy? What exactly is online therapy?

TALKSPACE: Online therapy is very similar to standard inperson therapy, except that the services are provided through an online format where the communication with the therapist can be textbased, videobased, or through phone calls.

ADDICTION BLOG: What is the difference between talking with a friend or talking with a therapist? When should people seek professional help when dealing with addiction problems?

TALKSPACE: In casual friendly conversation, the focus of the discussion usually shifts back and forth from one person to the next, so each person is sharing equally from their experience. A therapist, on the other hand, is trained in empathic strategies so that they can fully understand someone else from THAT PERSON’S perspective, seeing the world as they would see it. In that process, the focus stays on the client, and the therapist helps that person navigate through their personal process in an effort to understand themselves better and make changes.

In terms of addictions problems, having contact and talking with friends is equally as important as seeking professional help. Friends offer personal experiences and can make you feel less alone. A therapist is going to help you maintain focus on yourself in an effort to promote selfawareness, understanding, and positive personal change.

ADDICTION BLOG: What does a typical Talkspace session look like? What can users expect?

TALKSPACE: Talkspace’s format is actually very flexible, so each client can have a voice about how their therapy is structured. If they chose to have live video sessions with the Talkspace app, then they can have a realtime, facetoface conversation with their therapist at a time that’s convenient. If they choose the textbased format, the “session” is ongoing throughout the week, with the therapist coming into the room 12x day to respond to the user’s posts.

ADDICTION BLOG: Are people choosing their therapist on Talkspace by themselves? How can users know they’ve chosen the right therapist? Is it possible to change a therapist when needed?

TALKSPACE: Clients are personally matched to their therapist based on their presenting concerns and the characteristics they are looking for in a therapist. Clients can also choose their own therapist by going onto the Talkspace website and reading through therapist profiles and choosing one that practices in their state of residence.

ADDICTION BLOG: Who SHOULD NOT use Talkspace? Are there clinical limitations and when should people seek help in facetoface treatment settings?

TALKSPACE: Sure, there are always limitations when it comes to any clinical approach. Not every approach will be appropriate for everyone.

People who are struggling with active suicidality are encouraged to seek inperson assistance from a 24hour crisis service, or their local hospital, to ensure their safety.

Individuals who require an intensive level of care because of high severity of mental illness or addiction symptoms should indeed seek those services in person, and can use Talkspace as an additional support service.

ADDICTION BLOG: How many sessions or how much time does one need to commit to talk therapy when dealing with addiction? About how long can/should a course of online therapy take?

TALKSPACE: The appropriate amount of time required really varies depending on the person, as well as the type & severity of the addiction. Generally speaking, the research on behavioral change indicates that 36 months is an appropriate minimum amount of time to really make a significant change and integrate it fully into our lifestyle (without reverting back to old habits).

The course of online therapy is similarly individualistic. If there is a simple problem that can be solved using a brief, solution focused approach, then that can be as few as 34 sessions.
If there are deeper issues present, however, then the person should start with a commitment of at least 3 months so they give themselves some time to settle in and get used to the process.

ADDICTION BLOG: What is the general or average cost of one therapy session on Talkspace? Does it vary by hour, counselor, length or problem issue?

TALKSPACE: Our basic monthly plan is $128/month, which gives you unlimited messaging with your therapist. The user also has the option of purchasing a plan that includes video sessions, or they can purchase video sessions as needed.

ADDICTION BLOG: What’s the average cost per treatment episode for addiction?

TALKSPACE: The average cost of a treatment episode for addiction varies depending on the level of care the person needs and varies widely. Anywhere from $50 to $700 per day/episode.

ADDICTION BLOG: Addiction is often characterized as a “family disease”. Is Talkspace intended only for individual therapy? Is there a chance for couples and family therapy related to addiction issues online?

TALKSPACE: Talkspace definitely provides couples counseling and we have had many happy users! It can be really challenging for multiple family members to coordinate their schedules to all go to a therapist’s office. With the Talkspace platform, couples can share a therapist and communicate via text or phone/video. Clients can also have family sessions via video if they choose.

ADDICTION BLOG: Do you collaborate with addiction treatment centers? Is there an opportunity to refer patients to a treatment facility?

TALKSPACE: If a client has another mental health provider, the therapists can request that they sign an authorization for a release of information so they can collaborate with that other provider. If a client requires a higher level of care, the therapist can assist the client with locating local options and can facilitate the referral.

ADDICTION BLOG: Does Talkspace guarantee confidentiality? How does this app regulate privacy issues?

TALKSPACE: Talkspace takes confidentiality very seriously. Our tech team has worked for years to develop a level of encryption that exceeds HIPAA standards, so both the textbased AND video components are encrypted and confidential. Therapists also are required to adhere to their Code of Ethics regarding privacy and confidentiality. Onboarding therapists receive training regarding confidentiality when they join the platform, and our Quality Assurance/Compliance team have polices in place to ensure that confidentiality standards are adhered to.

ADDICTION BLOG: How is Talkspace different than other talk therapy services? What makes it unique?

TALKSPACE: Talkspace’s services are completely online, while others are inperson. Also, the flexibility of format and structure really makes Talkspace unique. Clients can choose the setup that works best for them and can fit therapy into their lives in a way that is convenient for them.

With regular talktherapy services, the client usually has to adhere to whatever structure/format that therapist or program uses. Another thing that sets Talkspace apart is that the room the client and therapist share is always open to the client, and the conversation can be reviewed at any time. With regular inperson therapy, it is often difficult to remember what was talked about, or the specific strategies that the therapist recommended. With the Talkspace platform, the user can scroll up whenever they like and revisit past conversations in order to refresh on those topics.

ADDICTION BLOG: What are the disadvantages to using online talk therapy services? What are some barriers that might get in the way of the treatment process? Can these be minimized?

TALKSPACE: This is a good question, and one that is asked by many. There are certain disadvantages to using textbased therapy, specifically, and those limitations revolve around the fact that you are unable to see/read body language and other subtle communications that can only be communicated when you are physically in the same room as someone else. There is also the possibility of MIScommunications while using textbased services, as both therapists and clients alike can potentially misread or miss the meaning in what is written.

The therapists here at Talkspace are trained in specific online engagement and communication strategies so they are able to accurately communicate with their clients and continually build upon the therapeutic relationship. Other barriers that may get in the way of the treatment process mirror those in regular facetoface therapylack of readiness on the part of the client, lack of time/resources (Talkspace breaks down those barriers by providing affordable and accessible services), lack of insight about what being in therapy really means, etc.

ADDICTION BLOG: Is there anything else you would like to share with our readers?

TALKSPACE: When it comes to people struggling with addiction, Talkspace can be a GREAT resource. To have the ability to have ongoing conversation with a therapist throughout the week (as opposed to just one hour once per week) is a great tool in terms of having ongoing support and accountability in making changes.

About the Interviewee: Talkspace is an online and mobile therapy company based in New York City. It was founded by Oren and Roni Frank in 2012. Talkspace users have access to licensed therapists through the website or mobile app on iOS and Android
About the author
Lee Weber is a published author, medical writer, and woman in long-term recovery from addiction. Her latest book, The Definitive Guide to Addiction Interventions is set to reach university bookstores in early 2019.
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