Israelis Create Therapy ‘Bubbles’ In The Heart Of New York City With ‘Talkspace’

By Maya Yarowsky, NoCamels November 17, 2014 Comments

A city of 8.4 million residents and endless possibilities, it would be an understatement to call living in New York City ‘overwhelming.’ That’s one of the reasons why the Israeli-founded startup Talkspace created a convenient solution for New Yorkers to consult with a psychologist in the heart of the city. At Talkspace’s #PopUpTherapy installation on Fifth Avenue and 23rd Street, passersby are able to receive a quick, free 15-minute consultation with a therapist, and find out about the startup’s psychology solutions for the modern age.popuptherapy5

Raising awareness, and treatment levels

Roni and Oren Frank

Roni and Oren Frank

Talkspace was founded in 2012 by Israelis Roni and Oren Frank after one of Roni’s friends committed suicide as a result of years of untreated depression. Armed with a master’s degree in psychology, Roni set out to “democratize psychotherapy,” aware that nearly 60 percent of individuals with a diagnosable mental health disorder never seek treatment. This, Roni points out, is due to the fact that physically showing up at a therapist’s office takes a good deal of emotional strength, something that individuals suffering from depression and other mental conditions may be lacking.

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The Talkspace application and therapy platform allows users to receive mental health support from licensed therapists online and via text, in real time. The installation in the heart of New York, #PopUpTherapy, began last Wednesday in order to raise awareness about Talkspace’s services and to make the needs of mental health patients more transparent. That’s why the Talkspace therapist is housed in a transparent bubble, designed by Alon Seifert, in the middle of the urban jungle—to assure New Yorkers and the international viewing public that someone, somewhere is there to hear their problems out.

It all begins with a text

Unlike the run-of-the-mill blood test or psych evaluation you may get as a new patient at a conventional therapist, Talkspace begins with texting. The new user receives a free texting consultation that can last anywhere from 15 minutes to an entire day, according to Roni. Then one of the 100 licensed therapists employed at Talkspace will assess the new patient’s status and pair him or her with a specialist for their disorder, or just a friendly therapist for them to reach out to. When it comes time to pay for the services, the options are just as flexible. For $49 a month, the user can engage in weekly text or video sessions with their therapist, $25 for monthly and $19 for four times a year. Though Talkspace doesn’t accept traditional medical insurance, it is a lot cheaper than in-person therapy sessions.

And while the idea of texting your therapist may seem unsettling, the accessibility and informality of the digital relationship is already answering the needs of many Talkspace users. According to one, “It’s really like texting. It’s easier to write out my feelings, rather than when you’re sitting in a room with someone and it’s hard to explain things. This gives you time to think about what you want to say, and really think about what they’re saying.”

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popuptherapy4With so many traditionally in-person services going online, it was only a matter of time before the Internet got Freudian. A number of online therapy services are popping up, like Blah Therapy, 7 Cups of Tea and more, but Talkspace is the only platform to offer the texting option, and to go out of their way to raise awareness about untreated mental conditions with the #PopUpTherapy installation. This past May, the startup raised $2.5 million in seed funding from Spark Capital and SoftBank and has already begun expansion of its services outside of the US to locations like Turkey, Iran, England, Canada and more.

Photos: courtesy

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