New therapy apps bring mental health services to rural areas

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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - In traditional therapy, people have to drive to their therapist or doctor for care, but the world of mental health care is changing and new professional services are being offered online.

Topeka based Licensed Clinical Social Worker Kathleen Levy is one of 4000 therapists providing care through the new Talkspace app and website.

"It's a wonderful thing for a lot of people who can't get out.” Levy said.

Through Talkspace patients can have 24/7 access to messaging their therapist, so they could hear back several times a day compared to waiting until their next office visit. Patients can correspond online via direct messaging or through video chatting.

A patient simply creates an account for a small fee and is matched up with different licensed therapists for patients to choose from based on their expert field.

It’s especially helpful for folks living in rural areas like in western Kansas who don't have drivable access to therapy.

"It is life changing because for the first time they can reach out to someone who can help," Levy explained.

And using the therapy app can even help protect your privacy.

“The really neat thing about it is the anonymity,” Levy said. “You can be anywhere, no matter who you are, and have access to this on your phone, on your tablet, on your computer."

Levy currently has 18 patients through the platform and says she thinks it can be even more effective than in-person therapy.

"I have time to think about things that they've said to me before I reply and I think that may make the quality of my responses better," Levy recalled.

You can subscribe to Talkspace starting at $49 a week, but for folks looking for a free option, there's another app called Woebot, that provides similar services backed by Stanford research.

Levy explains many of her patients don't want to be seen going into a therapist office.

“They don’t want to be seen even in the parking lot,” Levy said, “You know and there’s good reason for that, especially in small towns where everybody knows everybody."

Levy believes it’s all about finding what works best for you and your schedule.

You can find the Talkspace ( target="_black">iOS/Google) and Woebot (iOS/Google) apps in the in the Google Play and Apple App Stores.

Talkspace is also available online at www.talkspace.com

In addition to their apps, Woebot is available via Facebook Messenger