Ever since April 2020, I have been in what some people call “survival mode.” I lost my job, experienced a nasty break-up, and just generally had no idea what to do. In short, my mental health was in shambles. I even had to change my medication, because I had been taking Xanax at the time and it was not doing me any favors. However, changing my medication was not enough: my confidence and self-worth were shattered. It was the start of COVID, so in-person therapy was not an option. I did not have any health insurance, so either way it was going to cost me a fortune.
Fortunately, I had heard of Talkspace, one of the text-based therapy apps now available in the Middle East. (Others include Better Help and Talktime.official)
The cost of Talkspace is just under Dh1,000 per month, a fraction of what in-person or Zoom therapy can cost. However, if you listen to a podcast or podcast series that is sponsored by Talkspace, you are eligible for US$100 off, which brings the total down considerably. And if you are new to the app, you also get $100 off with a special promo code.
Online therapy can also be covered by insurance, with some insurance plans covering up to 100 percent of monthly plans. In addition, Talkspace also provides a money-back guarantee.
Once I got on the app, I was asked to reveal the issues I was dealing with, which included suicidal thoughts, relationship issues, financial worries, self-esteem, phase-of-life problems and anxiety. I matched with a therapist, Danielle, who turned out to be amazing.
One of the great benefits of text-based therapy is that you can message your therapist via text, video, or voice note, at any time, from anywhere. That means you can have a therapeutic discussion throughout the day, not encapsulated in one hour as is the case with traditional therapy.
You can even have a therapeutic discussion throughout the week, without having to wait until the next week to book your next appointment. It still is quite similar to traditional therapy, because the therapist will have to get to know you, get an idea of what brought you to seek help, and then determine how he or she can help you to meet some of your goals. Your therapist will then have regular check-ins with you, and you can decide together what to focus on.
I access my therapy via the Talkspace app. It is a simple process when communicating with a therapist via a chat room. You can even get on a video chat or live session with your therapist although there are extra charges; the first 10-minute session is complimentary.
I have been a client of Talkspace for two years now. I’ve found a therapist is always there and is quick to respond. It depends on how much time you can access the therapy, because it is all text and voice-note based. I’ve spent 20 minutes to half a day communicating in a week. Talkspace’s therapists are based in the US, but they still manage to work with clients from around the world. However, because they are mainly based in the US, there is a time zone consideration.
Another benefit of text-based therapy is that it allows you and your therapist to cut straight to the point. And it really helps deal with anxiety and discomfort at the thought of face-to-face conversations.
You might not be matched with your choice of therapist from the get-go, but that is okay, because the help and support teams are always there to help and provide other options.
When I first started with therapy, I was in a very tough spot mentally. Although it has gotten a little better, I still have more work to do. That is mainly because I am not where I want to be in life. And, that is why I am still in therapy. Between 2020 and 2021, I encountered plenty of setbacks in my life aside from COVID: financial trauma, phase-of-life issues, and struggling to make a name as a freelancer. Getting by on my own was extremely difficult (and still is) but the support has helped me tremendously. In particular, I do not feel as insecure as I did when I thought I was the biggest failure in the world.
The setbacks I encountered led me to having suicidal thoughts multiple times, but Danielle was there to help, reminding me that this is not going to last forever, everything happens for a reason, and I am exactly where I need to be. Not everything has fallen into place yet, but I just keep moving forward.