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Ditch the couch. Online therapy might be just the virtual support you need.

My apartment floor has sprouted a giant crack like a vortex into the underworld, my daughter’s day care will be closed indefinitely for renovations, I’m working on three back-to-back projects as BUST’s events manager, and my narcissistic mom is making for some not-so-happy holidays. This typical barrage of stressors makes having a licensed therapist a necessity. But after trying one-on-one, in-person therapy, I found out there’s an app for that, which suits me way better. 

My first go at finding a therapist was traditional: I searched in my area, making dozens of calls until I found a doctor who took my insurance as well as new patients. But the rigid time commitment of face-to-face therapy was an added stress. And by the time my evening appointments rolled around, I was exhausted and so was my therapist (which gets real old real fast at $65 an hour). So I decided to try Talkspace (talkspace.com). The online service/app matches you to a licensed therapist that you can chat with on an unlimited basis through text, audio, and video messaging. And though it doesn’t take insurance, at $32 a week it’s much more affordable. For $43 a week you also get a live session, via phone or Skype; $69 a week gets you four live sessions. Talkspace not only gave me a coping tool that I can utilize as needed, but it also facilitated a powerful bond with a rad and brilliant lady—my virtual therapist. 

The process begins with a free assessment by a licensed therapist, who asks for basic information like gender identity, culture/ethnicity, as well as how you felt about your past experiences with therapy and whether you have any special requests in order to match you with a compatible therapist. (This is also helpful because your reasons for wanting therapy and the things you’re challenged by are logged so your future assessor isn’t reliant on their first impression or handwritten notes.) It was important to me that my therapist be a fellow feminist, and the Talkspace match was perfect: my therapist minored in women’s studies, has her own practice, and is a mom to boot. During our first week of chatting, I was tickled to learn she also dabbled in the occult, and we’ve even used tarot in some of our sessions. Though we both live hectic lives, the app facilitates a continuous conversation flow so I feel like I have 24/7 support and we schedule Skype chats that can vary weekly. One evening, when I was feeling extra lonely, my therapist Skyped me for a late appointment with her infant in tow. There she was, frazzled with a wide-awake baby at an “oh hell no” hour, and all I could do was laugh and feel so very not alone seeing this veritable badass trudging through familiar trenches. Ironically, the options for access, the time flexibility, and the quality of Talkspace’s therapist roster have made my virtual therapy experience much more human.

By Jules Abraham

Art by Nicole Xu

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