Talkspace Anonymous Therapy App

Talkspace is a popular text-based therapy app which provides anonymity to patients seeking help.

Demand for this kind of therapy has been significant. Talkspace claims to have 1,000 therapists and 300,000 active users (although several therapists The Verge spoke to indicated that many of their paying clients at any given time were "radio silent," that is, paying without using services). Talkspace competitor BetterHelp claims to have 1,000,000 sign-ups in total.

Last spring’s $15 million Series B funding round brought the company’s total funding up to $28 million. The future looks bright for the startup. The only admission that Talkspace might not achieve #worlddomination, as co-founder Roni Frank tagged her Facebook post about Talkspace’s billboard in Times Square, is in its terms of use, which isn’t linked to from the homepage of the website. There is, however, a link to the terms in tiny, hard-to-see print when you first sign into the app. The policy reads, in part:

"...In some cases, Talkspace's offered services may not be completely substitute (sic) for a face-to-face session by a licensed Therapist. You should never rely on or make health or well-being decisions purely on use of Talkspace. Never disregard, avoid, or delay in obtaining medical advice from your doctor or other qualified healthcare Therapist, or by traditional face-to-face appointment; (sic) because of information or advice you received through Talkspace."

The informed consent statement provided by therapists directly to users as of late August 2016 reads, "Although risks are rare, I am aware that there are possible risks which include that the information I am able to give may not be sufficient for a diagnosis...If my therapist believes I need additional or other services, they may refer me to another specialist or type of care." It never mentions that patients shouldn’t rely, or make decisions purely based on, Talkspace therapy.

This service is similar to another idea floated by John Brunner in his 1975 classic The Shockwave Rider. In the novel, desperate people could call a number that guaranteed anonymity and connected them to a person who would listen to their story without judgement.

Stonkered or clutched or quite simply going insane, someone reaches for the phone and punches the most famous number on the continent: the ten nines that key you into Hearing Aid.

And talks to a blank though lighted screen. It's a service. Imposing no penances, it's kinder than the confessional. Demanding no fees, it's affordable where psychotherapy is not. Offering no advice, it's better than arguing with that son (or daughter) of a bitch who thinks he/she knows all the answers and goes on and on and on until you want to scream.
(Read more about John Brunner's Hearing Aid)

Via The Verge.

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