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Cerebral vs. Talkspace: Read This Before Choosing
Mental Health

Cerebral vs. Talkspace: Read This Before Choosing

HR_author_photo_Edibel
Written by Edibel Quintero, RD | Fact checked by Fact checked by Rosmy Barrios, MD check
Last update: March 24, 2023
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13 min

Online therapy is a popular alternative to traditional in-person therapy, but choosing a provider can be difficult. We look at two popular online therapy platforms in this review to help you find the right product for your needs.

cerebral vs talkspace
Health Reporter edit

Prioritizing your mental health can be beneficial, not just for your psychological well-being but also for your physical well-being. The mind and the body are connected, and keeping one healthy can keep the other in good shape, too.

Finding time for therapy sessions in this chaotic world can feel overwhelming, especially when you factor in the travel time, cost, and everything else that comes with mental healthcare. Fortunately, mental health apps have become much more popular in recent years, opening us up to the feasibility of online therapy.

Both Cerebral and Talkspace are online therapy platforms that put you in touch with a variety of therapy services suitable to your needs. In this article, we’re going to take a look at both of these online therapy apps to find out which is the best choice.

Which Is Better: Cerebral or Talkspace?

While Cerebral is a useful therapy app, there are too many drawbacks, including the federal investigation and lack of services in some states, which make it our second choice in this review. 

With a wider variety of services provided across the country, a more robust medication management service, and better flexibility with subscription packages, users get more from the Talkspace app. On top of this, Talkspace also fares better in terms of user reviews and is more highly rated by our team.

Our team has reviewed both apps and concluded that the Talkspace app is the best choice of these two mental health apps.

About the products

Cerebral is a therapy app that offers to put users in touch with licensed therapists suited to their needs. They also offer a medication management service where users can have their medication prescribed and delivered to their doors. Cerebral has recently been involved in several scandals that make it a less-than-stellar therapy app.

Talkspace, like Cerebral, is an online therapy platform that offers services throughout the US and Canada, and like Cerebral, you can sign up for a medication management subscription, too. Talkspace covers a broad range of mental health conditions and allows users to communicate via live messaging as well as video conferencing.

Below, we have looked at the main benefits, pros, and cons of both apps to help you get to know them better.

Cerebral

Cerebral
  • Online therapy sessions
  • Medication services
Our rating:
3.8
Learn More

The Cerebral therapy app offers a convenient way to access psychological health services. However, the cons of the app may outweigh the pros. We have taken a look at the main benefits, pros, and cons of the Cerebral app below to help you get to know it better.

Pros
  • Quickly pairs with a therapist
  • Can be used across devices, including phones, tablets, and desktops
  • Easy communication with therapists
Cons
  • Currently under federal investigation
  • Reported for unethical prescription services and treatment of minors
  • Doesn’t accept all forms of insurance
  • Limited therapists to choose from
  • Most sessions are evening or weekend sessions
  • Video sessions have been reported as glitchy

Talkspace

Talkspace
  • Therapy sessions for a variety of conditions
  • Flexible subscription package
  • Medication delivery and management
Our rating:
4.2
Learn More

Talkspace offers flexible mental health services to users and is an effective alternative to in-person therapy. It helps treat many mental health conditions and offers medication management and delivery. Below are the main benefits, pros, and cons of the Talkspace app.

Pros
  • Options for medication services
  • Psychiatry services available
  • Accepts a wide range of insurance
  • Offers couples therapy and teen therapy services
Cons
  • Doesn’t offer a free trial
  • Can’t see any therapist matches until you subscribe
  • Therapists don’t always offer live sessions
  • Slow response times reported from some therapists

What Is the Cerebral App?

The Cerebral app is an online therapy space that offers mental healthcare to adults over 18. It offers both therapy sessions and coaching to users and covers a wide range of mental health conditions, including anxiety, depression, insomnia, ADHD, postpartum depression, bipolar disorder, and more. It is important to note that some of these mental health services can only be accessed in certain states.

The recent controversy surrounding the prescription practices at Cerebral has led to a major shift in the way things are being done in this app. They have altered the medications they can prescribe after knowledge of their unethical prescription practices emerged and have stopped prescribing controlled substances like benzodiazepine and amphetamines.

How does it work?

To begin with, you have to sign up for your prescription on the Cerebral website, and the app simply loads with a login page. You can choose from the therapy-only, medication and care, or the therapy and medication plan.

You first have to create an account, and then you will be asked more information about why you are accessing mental health services and what symptoms you are experiencing. From here, the app will provide a list of therapists for you to choose from. You can read each of their bios to get to know them better and decide if they suit your needs.

The therapist’s bio will list whether they accept insurance and what their specialties are, but they do not have extensive information on the kind of services they offer. This limited information can be frustrating since you cannot contact the therapist for further discussion. Once you book an appointment, you are stuck with that person, and changing the therapist takes a little more effort than on other online therapy platforms.

What Is the Talkspace App?

Talkspace is a mental healthcare platform that brings therapy to people over 13. It also offers psychiatry services and other mental health guidance, along with medication therapy subscriptions.

The app has a number of communication methods, including live video sessions, live messaging, and a mix of both, which users can choose for their weekly therapy sessions. The healthcare providers on the app are trained in a range of conditions, including anxiety, depression, childhood trauma, parenting, and eating disorders.

They use cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), and other tried and tested methods of improving mental well-being and work with users in their weekly therapy sessions.

How does it work?

Like with many other mental health apps, Talkspace begins with a survey where you answer questions about your symptoms and other aspects of your mental health. You will also need to create an account and sign up for one of their subscriptions.

There are a few different subscription services on Talkspace, including psychiatry services, insomnia services, and talk therapy services. You will be directed to the best therapist for your condition through a matching process and can easily switch therapists if you are not happy with the one you are given.

Types of Services

While both these apps are mental healthcare services, their specific services differ slightly. We have looked at both of them below.

Cerebral services

Cerebral has two types of mental healthcare services on its app. The first is the therapy sessions it offers to users. You can sign up for a therapy-only plan, which involves matching with a licensed professional for weekly therapy sessions. After recent changes, this could also include coaching sessions, but it is important to note coaches are not held to the same professional standards as licensed mental health professionals, nor do they need any qualifications.

The other service that Cerebral offers is medication therapy. This involves having professionals prescribe medication that will better support your mental health and can be used alongside their therapy sessions. It is important to take into account recent changes to the medication that Cerebral can prescribe after the investigations earlier this year.

The services offered on this mental health app cater to a range of conditions, including bipolar disorder, ADHD, anxiety, depression, and postpartum depression. However, some services may vary from state to state.

Talkspace services

Talkspace offers therapy sessions to users, catering to a range of conditions. Users are matched with therapists whose practice suits their needs. They specialize in everything from couples therapy to therapy for teens to individual talk therapy.

It also offers medication services as part of its psychiatry subscription. This subscription plan allows users to get both therapy and medication from the app. The medication is delivered to your local pharmacy, and a psychiatrist monitors your ongoing progress.

The mental health app allows for a number of different communication methods, with both live messaging therapy and live video conferencing being a part of their subscriptions. This means that users can get help for their mental health in a way that they feel most comfortable with.

Cerebral vs. Talkspace Pros

Both of these platforms have pros that make them useful for improving your mental well-being. Take a look below to learn more about them.

Cerebral pros

Cerebral has some pros that could make it an effective mental health app for you to try, including low-cost prescriptions and insurance coverage. We have taken a closer look at each of the pros of this app below.

#1 Low-cost prescriptions

Cerebral offers users a low-cost way to manage and receive their medication. The plan ensures your medication is delivered directly to you or a local pharmacy for pick up. This can make mental well-being more accessible and affordable for people.

#2 Insurance coverage is available

Cerebral accepts insurance policies, which means that there are no out-of-pocket costs. While not all insurance plans are accepted, you can check to see which therapists on the online therapy platform accept insurance before starting. In this way, Cerebral may be more accessible than traditional therapy and could help those seeking treatment to get the help they need.

#3 All-in-one approach

Cerebral’s medication therapy makes this app an all-in-one approach to good mental health. It means that users can access the therapy plans that best suit them all in one place and don’t have to use lots of different services to ensure they are in good health.

Talkspace pros

The pros of the Talkspace app that make it an effective online therapy tool include flexible plans and insurance coverage. Each of the pros of the app is explored in more detail below.

#1 Flexible plans

The flexibility of the therapy plans on Talkspace is what makes it such a good replacement for traditional therapy services. There are options for phone or video sessions, as well as live messaging and psychiatric services. Essentially, you pick the option that is most suitable for your therapy journey and most suited to your budget.

#2 Can be covered by insurance

Talkspace does accept some insurance, making it an affordable option. Prices differ for each different subscription plan, but if you have insurance, you may be able to get your therapy paid for. This makes the mental healthcare offered by Talkspace more accessible to people.

#3 Ability to switch therapists

If you get set up with a mental health professional that just isn’t working for you, it is relatively easy to switch to another one on the Talkspace app. There might be schedule conflicts, or you find your therapist does not do live sessions – whatever it is, Talkspace makes it easy to change.

#4 Ensures anonymity

Anonymity may be very important to some users, and Talkspace can ensure that. This is particularly important if users are speaking about sensitive topics or disclosing experiences they do not want to be shared.

Cerebral vs. Talkspace Cons

As with any therapy plan app, both of these products have drawbacks that may make you think twice before downloading them. Take a look below to find out more.

Cerebral cons

The Cerebral app has a few cons that may make you think twice before downloading it, including the price increase and limited therapy services in some states. Each of the cons is explained further below.

#1 Individual counseling only at this time

Since the scandals earlier this year, Cerebral has severely diminished the services they provide. This means they no longer offer any form of couples therapy, group therapy, or family therapy, meaning that if you want to access these services, you need to look elsewhere.

#2 Price increases after the first month

While a starting offer can entice people to a service, the price of your therapy plan going up after your first month is less than ideal and could be off-putting for many users. It makes psychological health services less accessible to people.

#3 Therapy is limited to 35 states

Due to licensing differences, some services are not actually offered in every state. This means that where you live can dictate whether you get help from the Cerebral app. Many other apps offer live therapy sessions across every state.

Talkspace cons

As with Cerebral, Talkspace has some drawbacks that could change your mind as to whether it is the online therapy app for you. The cons of the app have been explored more closely below.

#1 Might feel impersonal

Some of the subscription plans on the Talkspace app may feel a little impersonal. For example, an unlimited messaging plan means you never actually speak to your therapist and only communicate via text. This may make the whole process feel impersonal and uncomfortable.

#2 Short live sessions

Some of the live sessions on the Talkspace app are only 30 minutes. This is a short amount of time to speak with a therapist per week, especially in comparison to traditional forms of therapy, where sessions are usually at least one hour.

#3 Not available for teenagers

Teens may only use Talkspace for therapy and are not allowed access to the psychiatry aspects of the app. In addition, nobody under 13 will be treated via the Talkspace app. This means that if you’re looking for services for your children, you may need to look elsewhere.

Special Features

In our Talkspace vs. Cerebral review, we’ve covered the services of each app, but now we’re going to take a look at the special features that make each app stand out. Take a look below for more information.

Cerebral features

The Cerebral app offers some additional features which users can access. It includes educational content of therapy formats like CBT, and users are encouraged to check out this content in-between sessions and in weeks when they may miss therapy.

Talkspace features

Talkspace offers Talkspace Insomnia, a dedicated 8-week course for people struggling with sleep problems. It is a specialized course that uses cognitive-behavioral therapy to help people change the way they think and get better quality sleep.

In addition, Talkspace also operates a service for businesses that allow employees to access each of their subscriptions and offers therapy to them. The service may differ depending on the size of your company, but it is a good way to ensure your employees are operating at their best and getting the help they may need for their mental well-being.

Cerebral vs. Talkspace Price

The price of the products we review is really important to us. We believe everyone deserves access to good health, so products that are extremely expensive tend not to be rated well by us. Below, we have summarized the pricing structure of both Cerebral and Talkspace.

Cerebral cost

The therapy plans at Cerebral range from $99 to $325 per month, depending on your chosen plan. We have summarized each of the plans below.

  • Medication and care counseling – $99 per month
  • Therapy – $259 per month
  • Medication and therapy – $325 per month

Talkspace cost

Talkspace offers many subscription plans, meaning the price can vary significantly. We have summarized the pricing plans for Talkspace below.

  • Unlimited messaging therapy – $69 per week
  • Live therapy – $99 per week
  • Messaging and live therapy – $129 per week
  • Psychiatry – $249 for the initial appointment and $125 for follow-up sessions

Comparison Table

Sensa
Cerebral
Talkspace
4.5
3.8
4.2

Completely personalized to every user

Educational content

Journaling space

Quick-Relief for moments of panic

Individually paced

Treats a diverse range of conditions

Quickly pairs with a therapist

Can be used across devices, including phones, tablets, and desktops

Easy communication with therapists

Options for medication services

Psychiatry services available

Accepts a wide range of insurance

Offers couples therapy and teen therapy services

No video or audio lessons

Currently under federal investigation

Reported for unethical prescription services and treatment of minors

Doesn’t accept all forms of insurance

Limited therapists to choose from

Most sessions are evening or weekend sessions

Video sessions have been reported as glitchy

Doesn’t offer a free trial

Can’t see any therapist matches until you subscribe

Therapists don’t always offer live sessions

Slow response times reported from some therapists

Brand
Sensa
Cerebral
Talkspace
Overall Rating
4.5
3.8
4.2
Pros

Completely personalized to every user

Educational content

Journaling space

Quick-Relief for moments of panic

Individually paced

Treats a diverse range of conditions

Quickly pairs with a therapist

Can be used across devices, including phones, tablets, and desktops

Easy communication with therapists

Options for medication services

Psychiatry services available

Accepts a wide range of insurance

Offers couples therapy and teen therapy services

Cons

No video or audio lessons

Currently under federal investigation

Reported for unethical prescription services and treatment of minors

Doesn’t accept all forms of insurance

Limited therapists to choose from

Most sessions are evening or weekend sessions

Video sessions have been reported as glitchy

Doesn’t offer a free trial

Can’t see any therapist matches until you subscribe

Therapists don’t always offer live sessions

Slow response times reported from some therapists

How We Tested

When we review products, we want to make sure our readers get the full picture. We assess each product in 4 categories: quality, effectiveness, price, and brand reputation. See below to find out more about what each of these means.

Quality

A quality psychological health app will help users get the help they need and improve their mental well-being. While both apps we have discussed in this review offer services that are known to improve well-being, including digital therapy services, Talkspace is of better quality because it offers a more consistent service across the country.

Effectiveness

Much research has been conducted into the efficacy of online therapy and has found that it is just as effective as in-person therapy. For this reason, both of these services could be considered effective methods of boosting mental well-being.

The effectiveness of Cerebral may be called into question by the recent investigation, and more information on the changes implemented at the company could clear up any doubts as to whether the app continues to be an effective method of boosting your mental well-being.

Price

While both apps are probably considered expensive for an online service, the difference in price between online services and in-person therapy is huge, making online services a much more affordable way to access therapy.

Brand reputation

The reputation of a brand is incredibly important. While Talkspace has an excellent reputation in the industry, Cerebral has suffered a major blow recently. For this reason, Talkspace is a more trustworthy platform to use.

A Word From a Psychologist

Mental well-being is an incredibly popular aspect of health at the moment, and as such, more and more people are turning to therapy. While in-person therapy can be incredibly costly, you can take advantage of many online and app-based services, which are much cheaper and thought to have the same effect.

Talk therapy, CBT, and other forms of psychotherapy have all been extensively researched and found to have a positive impact on many mental health conditions, and you can pair your therapy with other methods of boosting your psychological health to feel better overall.

Excellent methods of boosting your mental well-being include taking the time to exercise each week, getting out in nature with a morning or evening walk, eating a balanced diet, trying mindfulness and meditation, and journaling.

Your mental well-being plays an important role in your physical health, and as such, it is important to keep it in good health, too.

Conclusion

Talkspace and Cerebral both offer online therapy for users around the US. They share similar features and have both been found effective at helping to boost mental well-being. 

However, the Talkspace app fares better in the eyes of our team. It offers more services, has a more efficient medication management service, and has not faced any scandals like Cerebral.

HR_author_photo_Edibel
Written by
Edibel Quintero is a medical doctor who graduated in 2013 from the University of Zulia and has been working in her profession since then. She specializes in obesity and nutrition, physical rehabilitation, sports massage and post-operative rehabilitation. Edibel’s goal is to help people live healthier lives by educating them about food, exercise, mental wellness and other lifestyle choices that can improve their quality of life.
Fact checked by Rosmy Barrios, MD
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