Talkspace and Being Non-verbal
Talk therapy in the most literal sense is something I physically cannot do. I have cerebral palsy, which for me means I use a power chair to get around and I am non-verbal so I use a letter board and a laser to spell out what I want to say. My communication system is very fast and easy to learn, but in the constraints of a 50 minute session it is limiting. I was lucky to be raised where therapy did not have the stigma it often has. My parents are very open about them being in therapy at various points of their lives. Throughout my teen years I did try face-to-face therapy, but it did not really work for me.
Last year at 33, I wanted to give some kind of therapy another try. I had heard about Talkspace and figured that would be a good place to start. I chatted with one of the matching therapists and told her some basic information — that I was queer, disabled, and do not like therapists who coddle me. She took all that information and a few days later she found me a match.
I was matched with a therapist named Keli and when we first started chatting I honestly thought she could be a robot because her questions were so generic. But we kept chatting and over the first 2 weeks we developed a good rapport. She has a sense of humor, which none of my other therapists had. I use my offbeat sense of humor a lot in my daily life and in my therapy, so it is super important that my therapist gets it. She asks me thoughtful questions and is not afraid to tell me what she thinks. Even though we have never met, she is genuinely interested in my life and is enthusiastic in her responses.
Talkspace is the most accessible therapy program I have ever used. Because I am nonverbal all my communication is written in one form or another. So that made online therapy not seem any different than any other kind of therapy. I also have a huge network of friends all over the country so I mainly communicate with them online. I know some people might feel weird adjusting to Talkspace but for me it felt very natural.
I have energy issues so being able to choose to write Keli whenever I have the energy is very nice. Also, I don’t have to get everything out in one message because we message 5 times a week, 2 times a day. Before I used Talkspace, I tried email therapy. My therapist and I would email 3 times a week, but she would write super long emails with lots of questions and I would have to spend at least an hour replying. Because Talkspace is more like chatting, Keli doesn’t need to ask me 5 million questions at once, and I can write shorter replies so I don’t feel overwhelmed, although you can write as much as you want.
With Talkspace I don’t feel like I have to discuss a major crisis every time Keli and I talk. While we do work on big things it is also nice to just update her on the day to day. With my prior email therapist, because we did not talk every day and because her emails were full of questions, I did not feel like I had the time or space to talk about my daily life. I feel that’s important for a therapist to know about, as well as the bigger issues.
For people with disabilities who find typing difficult you can send voice recordings to your therapist, or vice-versa. I obviously don’t because I am non-verbal, but Keli has sent me voice recordings before, which I enjoy. Also, you can send pictures and videos, which I find fun, and it gives Keli an idea of what the people in my life look like.
Unfortunately, at this time insurance does not cover Talkspace, but because it is cheaper for one month than most therapists charge per session, it is well worth it. I am more centered and grounded because of my work with Keli and knowing I can write her at any time definitely helps. I would recommend anyone who feels the need for a therapist to give Talkspace a try!