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Services Put Therapists a Text Away

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Video conferencing with a mental health professional gave patients more access to therapy. Now, another trend is shaking up the industry, NY1's Shazia Khan looked at texting your therapist and filed this report.

23-year-old Danie Crofoot has seen a therapist on and off for years, but never with just her fingers doing the talking.

"Access to a therapist whenever we might need one, I think is really a great step forward," says Crofoot.

Talkspace is one of a new crop of digital services offering therapy via text. The company recently set up a display dome in the city to let passersby try out their service.

"To see a therapist or a counselor is just as intuitive as to go see a general practitioner," says Owen Frank, co-founder and CEo of Talkspace.

Oren Frank cofounded Talkspace to make therapy more affordable and accessible.

"You can be anonymous and you can be remote, because you do it in messaging which makes people open up much quicker," says Frank.

Talkspace offers unlimited text therapy for $25 a week. Within minutes of signing up online or with an iOS or Android app, users enter a secure chat room with one of more than 200 licensed therapists.

"If I had a bad meeting today, I can just write to my therapist on the spot and I'll get an answer in a few minutes or a couple of hours," Frank says.

He says more than 70,000 people have accessed Talkspace since its launch in 2012. Its therapists have tackled issues such as anxiety, abuse, stress and depression.
Once you have established a relationship with your therapist and want to pick up the phone or perhaps meet face to face, that could be an option.

Chris Griswold, who is bipolar and suffers from depression, gave Talkspace a shot. He says while texting a therapist is cheaper and more convenient, the person-to-person setup is best for him.

"It's such a personal thing and you're typing it to somebody that you can't see, so I don't know how you can ever actually get the full benefit out of it,” he says.

Frank sees it differently.

"If the therapist is a real professional, just like any other profession, you might as well communicate with them in smoke signs."

In the next Health and Medicine report, we’ll take a look at what you should consider before you text for therapy.

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