Talkspace raises $9.5M for smartphone-enabled therapy sessions

By Aditi Pai
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TalkspaceNew York City-based startup Talkspace, which offers therapy sessions via the web and mobile devices, has raised $9.5 million in a round led by Spark Capital, with participation from SoftBank, according to TechCrunch. Existing investors Metamorphic Ventures and TheTime also participated. This brings the company's total funding to at least $13 million.

Talkspace's app, available on iOS and Android devices, aims to remove some of the social stigma associated with therapy. Consumers who sign up for Talkspace receive a free consultation with a therapist, and after a preliminary assessment, they are paired with a therapist. The company then offers unlimited chat and mobile messaging with the therapist for $25 per week or one 30-minute video therapy session for $29. Talkspace also offers couples therapy.

The company explains that Talkspace is not an alternative or competitor to in-person therapy, but rather a "doorway for dealing with real life issues that may be an element in our lives, but may not necessarily require [the] full clinical psychiatric process". 

Consumers also have the option to participate in Talkspace’s free therapist-led forums. There are currently 141 forums that serve 105,685 users, according to the company.

This week, Talkspace announced that they had partnered with IBM's Watson to analyze customers’ text messages and attempt to draw insights about their personality that will help match them to the best possible therapist on the platform.

"Watson's technology will allow us to deliver better mental health care treatment to millions of people," Nicole Amesbury, head of clinical development at Talkspace, said in a statement. "For the first time, therapists will have access to powerful tools that can analyze and extract key insights about a client's mental state. This is transformative for the way therapy is practiced today and we are excited to work alongside Watson to help people lead happier lives."

Talkspace raised more seed funding at the beginning of the year. At the time, the company said it would use the funds to help the direct-to-consumer company build out a new b-to-b channel for its service: employers.