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Your Therapist Will See You Now … On Skype

“Even Google cannot answer every query.” That’s one of 10 reasons the new online platform TalkSession gives for why a teletherapy session with one of its mental health professionals could be good for you.

And the fact that the Affordable Care Act will soon give tens of millions more Americans access to mental health insurance coverage is one of the top reasons this business idea to match patients with therapists online stands a chance.

Also in the startup’s favor, according to a SmartPlanet article published today:

“TalkSession was recently chosen by GE Ventures and Startup Health Academy to participate in their three-year accelerator program. [The founders have] gathered their first round of seed financing with funds from a variety of investors and are set to launch in beta version soon.”

In an interview with SmartPlanet’s Audrey Quinn, TalkSession CEO Melissa Thompson says that:

“When the psychiatrists and psychologists have to respond to the Affordable Care Act, they will also have to put their records on electronic medical records systems. So what we’re doing in advance of that is trying to streamline the technologies and the business of mental health care so therapists ultimately will have more time to do what they do best, which is therapy.”

Today TalkSession features just 26 psychiatrists and psychologists, but claims its “double-peer referral system and strict selection criteria is designed to attract a diverse range of experts in their fields.” An anonymous questionnaire aims to eke out potential patients’ interests and needs in order to find a compatible therapist by area of expertise, preferred appointment time, and geography (even phone therapy is restricted by state licensing laws).

Quinn compares the TalkSession matchmaking algorithm to OK Cupid’s but explains that other back-end features are more complicated: “Teletherapy over traditional video chat platforms like Skype goes against HIPAA guidelines (Skype technically owns conversations over its server). TalkSession will have its own HIPAA-compliant server to host the remote video therapy sessions.”

Still, it’s the simplicity of the idea that appeals. The TalkSession website asks visitors, “What if you could get expert guidance or a professional reality check from the comfort of your own home? …Or, what if talking to a therapist were easier, more accessible, and more acceptable?” Thompson says she hopes offering those options could make going online for self-improvement as common as going to the gym for a workout.

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