When I told my wise, older male friend Paulo that I was getting married, the first thing he told me was to sign-up for couples therapy — stat.
“I’ve been through a few marriages and it’s best to get it at the beginning, before you need it,” he had said.
Well, co-founders of therapy app Talkspace, Roni Frank and Oren Frank, have similar ideas about marriage and therapy. That’s why today, in honor of Valentines Day and newlyweds, they’re launching couples therapy for Talkspace.
To drive home the importance of investing early in couples therapy, Talkspace is throwing a big event at city hall in New York City, where they’ll shower 25 random marrying couples with an array of prizes — including, of course, a free trial for couples therapy on Talkspace.
Roni says that the inspiration for the app, a digital counseling session held in a mobile chat room, is very much seated in her own experiences with marriage counseling.
Nine years ago Roni and her husband Oren were on the verge of divorce. Before filing the necessary paperwork to draw the relationship to a close, they decided to seek counseling. That’s where, she said, she and her husband began to learn how to communicate with one another and learn what they needed from one another going forward.
“Couples these days are incredibly busy. Oftentimes the stress from a day’s work makes couples avoid talking about the relationship,” says Roni.
And for many, there are a lot of barriers to seeking outside help. It can be hard to find time when you and your partner are both available during the day to head to an office and talk for an hour and a half — especially if you have kids. Plus, therapy is costly enough without adding in how much you have to pay a babysitter.
Talkspace is $150 a month for unlimited texting with a licensed therapist; you can also purchase a quarterly plan for $399. Your therapist won’t necessarily respond to all your texts immediately, unless they’re urgent. But you can text to your chat room as often as you like and your therapist will respond at an agreed-upon time. Clients can also set up an hour session once a week if that’s what they prefer.
“It’s not like one thing for everyone. Some people need an intensive level of care. Some users are doing real time sessions,” says Roni.
As far as “intensive therapy” goes, it’s important to note that Talkspace will not treat everyone. The service doesn’t accept teenagers as clients, nor will it treat people could potentially be harmful to themselves or others. If a patient appears suicidal, Talkspace will make sure that person is taken to a local hospital emergency room for further help.
Roni has studied at the New York Graduate School of Psychoanalysis, a school of therapy based on Sigmund Freud’s principles, and while she did not graduate and is not herself a licensed therapist, she says she has a heavy respect for the field of mental health. While she has aspirations to be a therapist herself, her background in computer science pulled her in another direction.
If you’re curious, as I was, to find out if there’s any difference between traditional in-person therapy and text-baed therapy, studies show that online therapy is just as effective as traditional face to face therapy.
Perhaps the idea just takes getting used to for me, but Talkspace has already signed up 80,000 users. It seems that offering therapy at a relatively affordable price and within a millennial modality may be the right way to position the app as a key tool for the modern marriage.