Therapy On A Budget

Mental health is different from having a cold or the flu, which means it can take some time to heal. Some studies have shown that it can take 5-10 sessions, and people will see their counselors weekly. Therapy is a commitment, and depending on your insurance coverage, it can be expensive. Unfortunately, having health insurance does not guarantee that you will not have to pay upfront for therapy. Plans with high deductibles will not cover the medical costs until deductibles have been met. Until then, you will have to pay out-of-pocket for your appointments. 

Most therapists charge between $75-$150 per session, depending on the area you live in. In expensive cities like San Francisco, Los Angeles, and New York, it can cost up to $200 per session. Here are a couple of cost-effective services available to help you get started.

  • Sliding Scale Therapists

Sliding Scale Therapists can include psychotherapists, psychologists, and social workers who will adjust their hourly fee to help make therapy more affordable for the client. These types of therapists are a good option if you have to pay out-of-pocket for counseling or if your insurance provider does not offer referrals to specialists. All mental health providers are trained to help treat anxiety, depression, and adjustment disorders, but not all of them specialize in addressing issues like postpartum depression, complicated grief, or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). You could use Psychology Today and to search for sliding scale therapists who practice in your area. Most of these therapists’ rates are determined by the provider and can range from $75-$160 per session. You can look for mental health professionals on a searchable database that is a more affordable option. Most of them charge between $30-$80 per session on Open Path Psychotherapy Collective

  • Free Or Low-Income Mental Health Services

For those that do not have health insurance and can not afford to pay out-of-pocket for mental healthcare, low-fee, or free community mental health clinics can be a good option. They are staffed by psychotherapists and psychologists but are often able to expand their services by the use of student psychologists, student mental health counselors, and student social workers that are supervised by licensed professionals. Their services are typically at no cost or at a highly reduced rate, and they offer services like individual and family counseling, medication management, and drug addiction counseling. You can find a clinic in your local area by contacting the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) HelpLine or visit

  • Therapy Apps

Apps like Talkspace and Betterhelp let you connect with therapists online or by text. Busy business and healthcare professionals, new moms, and students usually find teletherapy appealing because they can talk to a therapist from anywhere. Before signing up for online therapy, you will complete a mental health questionnaire, and based on the results, you get matched with a psychotherapist. Similar to in-person treatment, fees for online therapy will vary. Talkspace fees can be as low as $49 per week, while Betterhelp charges between $35-$80 per week. The American Psychological Association (APA) states that online therapy may be as helpful as in-person sessions, but this type of care isn’t for everyone. They caution those with more serious mental health concerns like schizophrenia, PTSD, and substance use disorder often need more care and attention then remote treatments. There are also mental health apps like Calm, Headspace, and Expectful that can help teach you daily habits of meditation, relaxation, and breathing exercises, which can help reduce stress. 

  • Local Support Groups

Those who are experiencing eating disorders, postpartum depression, alcohol and substance use disorders, and coping with grief or loss can benefit from attending a local support group. Support groups can connect you with others who are going through similar experiences and allows you to ask others for their opinions. It can also be healing to hear others share their stories to show you that you are not alone. This can be especially useful for those coping with illnesses like cancer or supporting loved ones with chronic health conditions or mental illness. Open-ended groups like new mom support circles can allow you to share at any time during the session. Structured groups, especially those that teach people a set of life skills like mindfulness, may follow a curriculum each week. Mental Health America has a list of different types of specialized support groups on their webpage. You can also get a list from hospital social workers for support groups in your community. Costs for support groups will vary, but groups like Alcoholics Anonymous are free of charge.

  • Crisis And Suicide Prevention Hotlines

Mental Health emergencies include suicidal thoughts, sexual assault, and domestic violence and require immediate psychiatric care and attention. There are hotlines are staffed by trained volunteers and professionals who provide emotional support and can connect you with resources that you need. If you think someone is in immediate risk of self-harm or hurting someone else please call 911 or your local emergency number, stay with the person until help arrives, remove any weapons, medication, or other things that may cause harm, and listen but do not judge, argue, threaten, or yell. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 800-273-8255. 

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