How Much Can A Therapist Cost On Average?
Depending on where you live, the social stigma surrounding therapy, and your schedule, attending regular therapy sessions can be more or less expensive. For some, going to weekly counseling sessions means taking paid time off of work and paying more for gas money to make a commute to the practitioner’s office.
In the last few years, at least four in ten U.S. adults have experienced recent high levels of psychological distress, and over a third of U.S. high school students report experiencing mental health challenges. However, high costs and insufficient health insurance coverage are two of the main reasons people cannot or choose not to pursue mental healthcare.
If you’ve been feeling overwhelmed by the search for an excellent and affordable therapist, know that there are options for everyone. You deserve support for yourself and/or your family, and it is available both in-person and online.
How Much Does Therapy Cost?
There is no fixed price for a therapy session. You can look it up online and see how much it will cost, but you’re only going to find ballpark figures such as $100 to $200 per session. The overall cost of therapy will depend on many factors, including the location, type of therapist, length of sessions, frequency of meetings, and insurance coverage.
If you live in a small, rural town, for example, the cost of therapy may be much less due to the cost of living. That said, there are likely more options for therapy services if you live in an urban area, while living in a rural area may mean you have to travel to attend in-person counseling.
The amount of money you make can also determine your bill for a therapy session. Some therapists use what is called a sliding scale to charge people based on their income. Additionally, a therapist who is more experienced will likely charge more than a counselor who is just starting to practice or is somewhat new to the field.
Where To Find Free Or Affordable In-Person Counseling
There is no direct answer as to how much therapy will cost you. For each of the outlets suggested below, know that your health insurance may be able to cover some of your counseling. Talk to your health insurance provider and see which counselors accept your insurance and the cost of your copay – doing so can help you narrow down which options may be the best for your situation; some insurance companies may even cover the entire cost of the session!
Many colleges that may have counseling for free for the public. It’s worth it to go to your local college and see what they have to offer. On a college campus, it will be easier for someone to schedule therapy sessions around their courses or part-time jobs, since there is a wider network of counselors available to work with students.
Maybe you don’t need therapy for yourself, but you’re interested in booking counseling sessions for your child or teenager. If they’re in public school, counseling services are usually provided for no cost, and the American School Counselor Association (ASCA) recommends that schools have one counselor for every 250 students – this means that your child will generally have options if they attend a larger public school.
The potential drawback to this route is that your child will likely be pulled out of class in order to attend their meetings. Whereas this may not be an issue for some, other students struggling with mental health may be behind on schoolwork and feel nervous about missing more classes. Others may not prefer the attention they get from leaving or re-entering a classroom among their inquisitive peers; however, it is certainly possible to maintain discretion.
Your primary care doctor can usually provide various types of mental health care services. Often, they will have established relationships with other local practitioners and can make quick referrals based on your description of symptoms. Medical doctors, like psychiatrists, are also able to prescribe medications, which can be taken as a stand-alone treatment or in combination with talk therapy.
Individuals seeking personal therapy or counseling for their children can schedule appointments with their family provider to screen for various conditions like anxiety or depression. It is important to be completely honest when speaking with your family doctor; this is especially important when advocating for a child or teenager, who may not be able to articulate their experiences as clearly as an adult. Your doctor is not there to judge you, and by being honest with them, they can make the best fit recommendation for you or your child.
If you don’t have a family health provider or child in public school, consider checking out the resources available at a local mental health clinic. Depending on your area of residence, these clinics may be more or less prevalent. If you need help now, you may want to look elsewhere, but if you can wait or find an opening, local clinics may be worthwhile.
To find one in your area, you can conduct a simple online search and look up reviews from people who have utilized the services at these locations.
Pro Bono Opportunities
A pro bono session is free and typically reserved for those who cannot afford the standard cost of therapy.
In conducting your search for therapists, feel empowered to ask each practitioner you interview about pro bono or sliding scale opportunities. The worst thing they can tell you is that they do not offer those options; however, it is likely they know another counselor who does offer pro bono work. There is no shame in asking for help, especially if it is available!
Did you know that therapy tends to be priced lower than individual therapy? This is because a counselor is spending less time counseling multiple people. There are both pros and cons to group therapy. Some people like the aspect of community and being able to speak to multiple people about their issues. Sometimes, you may be able to produce the solution to your problem by speaking to multiple people who have endured what you have or are currently going through the same challenges.
Group therapy is a popular and effective option for people living with conditions like substance use disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and even attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. Discretion may be more or less important to certain people.
If you have a certain religious affiliation, your pastor or religious leader may be able to provide counseling from that denomination’s perspective. Religious counseling is not for everyone, but it can help you find spiritual guidance and get you closer to your answers if you’re religious. These services are performed for the community, so they’re usually free. Many religious counselors may use traditional psychology approaches; even if you don’t consider yourself religious, religious counseling may be worth a try.
Is Online Counseling Right For You?
No longer does one have to travel far for a good counselor; instead, you can use online therapy platforms like MyTherapist to meet with a licensed therapist from your own living room!
What are some other advantages of online counseling? First, it can fit around your schedule. If you work long hours or are just busy all the time, you may not be able to fit into a traditional counselor’s schedule. It is also helpful for people who live with motor disabilities or trouble speaking, as online counseling helps by eliminating the need for a commute letting you type a text or email.
Finally, online counseling is viewed as a more affordable option compared to traditional face-to-face counseling. Online therapy platforms like BetterHelp enable participants to make sliding scale payments, just like many in-person practitioners.
Many studies have been conducted on the efficacy of online therapy as an intervention for various mental health conditions. A literature review of 17 studies affirmed online cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) as more effective in treating depression than face-to-face counseling. In a separate study, researchers found the intervention to be just as effective in treating panic disorder, PTSD, and specific phobias. As you can see, there are many conditions you or your loved one may be experiencing that can be treated by online counseling.
While you are in the process of searching for a great counselor, or even while you are in the process of collaborating with an exceptional therapist, you can engage in additional lifestyle changes to try and boost your mental health. These changes include eating healthier, exercising, and getting sufficient sleep. If your body is deprived of certain vitamins and minerals, that can certainly impact your mood. Exercising is also reported as the best way to alleviate stress, and there are many ways to have fun on your terms while also getting your heart pumping.
After learning about the different avenues for attaining therapy, we hope that you feel more empowered to pursue the healthcare you need and deserve. While a general online query of the cost of therapy can be overwhelming to some, there are plenty of ways to meet with a therapist without sacrificing other important priorities (like paying for utilities, groceries, and other bills).
It is also important to emphasize that the cost of therapy is not correlated to the quality of your practitioner, and many people take advantage of free initial consultations in order to determine which therapist is best suited to support them in achieving their mental health-related goals. If you feel that online therapy is the best option for you and your family, consider reaching out to a compassionate, professional counselor at MyTherapist. They have the training and experience to assist you or at least point you in the right direction.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Is therapy worth the cost?
Your health is always a worthwhile investment. Period. Therapy is an excellent way to treat mental illness and promote your overall well-being. From a financial standpoint, therapy may seem expensive, but think of it this way – when you can manage your stress, feel motivated each day, and stave off fatigue and depression, you may have more time and energy to pursue your dreams.
When you consider these benefits versus the costs of therapy, it essentially pays for itself. And now, with the availability of lower-cost online therapy options, there are few reasons not to seek help.
Is therapy covered by insurance?
Many insurance plans cover psychotherapy, CBT, and counseling services, but some therapists don’t accept insurance. Depending on your type of insurance, you may have limited options. Try to find a therapist who is in your network. For some specialty treatments, such as body psychotherapy or art therapy, therapy costs may not be covered (or you may need to cover more out-of-pocket).
Other health insurance providers do not cover services for which there is no clear medical explanation. That’s changing, though, as many insurers are now required to treat both mental health and physical health visits equally (assuming both are covered). Note that online therapy is typically not covered by insurance but offers much more affordable therapy.
Why is therapy so expensive?
As with any medical treatment, you are paying for the therapist’s expertise. The costs of their practice (the clinic’s operating expense, licensing fees, etc.) are also reflected in the price. Many therapists are unable to accept insurance because they are not reimbursed enough by the insurers – this can drive up the price because your counseling session is not fully covered, unlike your visit to your regular physician.
That said, there may be affordable options in your community. You can look into an online therapy provider, as well. If you need regular sessions, you may quickly max out your allowable appointments. Online therapy typically does not have these restrictions.
How much does a psychiatrist cost without insurance?
Psychiatrists’ fees vary, but you can expect to pay out of pocket for $100–300 per appointment if you visit them without insurance. If this is too expensive for you, look into free or low-cost offerings at your local health department, university health center, or even your primary care doctor. There are also special programs for low-income, vulnerable, and marginalized groups as well as veterans and survivors of domestic violence. They have qualified counselors who provide therapy specific to your needs. In short, don’t let the cost of therapy keep you from seeking help.
Is therapy a waste of money?
The only situation in which therapy would be a waste of money is if you pay for sessions but do not engage with your therapist, practice new skills, or take accountability. Many therapists will assign homework or conduct activities that help make your treatment effective. This is especially common in online therapy, so be sure to check in regularly. Trust the process, and you will likely get more out of your therapy.
How much does an hour of therapy cost?
A session with a licensed counselor or clinical psychologist varies widely in price, possibly exceeding $250. You may be able to get more affordable care by speaking with residents at a medical school who will perform low-cost or free therapy as part of their clinical rotations. These people have completed their degrees and are highly qualified to help you.
Finally, look into online therapy, where you typically pay a flat weekly or monthly rate for unlimited sessions and correspondence with a therapist. This is often a more affordable therapy option.
How often should I see a therapist?
Therapists typically recommend weekly sessions, but the frequency may be adjusted up or down depending on your needs. Whatever schedule you choose, try to be consistent. If you are using online therapy, you can often send messages whenever you like, then schedule appointments for a dedicated session.
How do I find a therapist?
If you have health insurance, begin by searching your insurers’ directory of providers. Cross-reference your findings with local reviews. Depending on your needs, your existing physician or psychiatrist can refer you. Do not forget to reach out to your local community organizations for guidance, especially if you are a vulnerable group constituent. You may qualify for free therapy. If you want a more convenient, customizable approach, look into virtual counseling and online therapy.
What can I do if I can't afford therapy?
You have options. Look into your local medical school to see if they have residents who provide free therapy as part of their training. Some mental health professionals also offer free therapy sessions on a limited basis.
If you are a veteran or a survivor of domestic violence, look into your local veterans’ relief groups and victim services (usually part of the public health department). Often, their on-staff therapists offer individual counseling as well as group therapy. And online therapy is generally a more affordable therapy option. You may even qualify for financial assistance if you’re concerned about the therapy cost.
If you can afford the initial few sessions but struggle to continue, work with your therapist to obtain the right tools to self-direct your therapy. This may be more effective using CBT and other therapies where you have a lot of homework. Following through will be crucial to your success (and often, more affordable). Of course, be sure to take care of yourself — exercise, hobbies, and healthy eating may not be cures for mental illness, but they can provide relief and keep the worst symptoms at bay.
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