One of the more annoying aspects of America’s healthcare system is that it’s hard to figure out how much something costs. When you go in for an appointment, you may be given a ballpark figure, but odds are, you’re not going to know how much something costs until you get the bill in the mail.
It’s viewed as an expensive procedure for people to talk about their issues when it comes to therapy. This assumption could not be further from the case; therapy is meant for everyone, especially in a country where mental health is a great concern. However, many people may not go to therapy because of all the stigma because they think it costs a lot of money. So how much is therapy? If it’s expensive, are there cheaper ways to get therapy? Let’s dive in.
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. You’re probably not going to find completely accurate figures. It’s all going to depend on many factors, such as location or the therapist you’re seeing.
For example, in private therapy, you could pay $50 or $250 a session, depending on the therapist’s location and education. In therapy, you’re going to need more than one session, so this can add up, especially if your therapy is in the latter end. When it comes to therapy, some factors may determine the cost, like:
There is no direct answer as to how much therapy will cost you. There are ways you can get therapy for cheap or even free. Here are a few options.
Go To Your School
If your child needs therapy and they’re in public school, counseling services are usually provided for no cost. For students in college, it’s usually the same deal. There are even 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.
Talk To The Family Doctor Or Your Psychiatrist
A general doctor is often too busy to talk about your problems and will instead prescribe medication. However, they could recommend another therapist to you, and the medication they prescribe can help treat the symptoms. With that said, a therapist can help you treat the cause, which is more beneficial to you in the end.
Local Clinics Can Help
If you go to a local government clinic, they can help you find low-cost options. Your local hospital may be able to help as well. With that said, local clinics may be overbooked, and it may take a while for you to get the help you need. If you need help now, you may want to look elsewhere, but if you can wait or find a close opening, local clinics may be worth it.
Sliding Scale Payments
As mentioned before, some counselors will charge you based on a sliding scale of your income. If you make a certain amount of money, they will charge based on that. Anyone who pays on a sliding scale should afford it if they can manage their money. Talk to your counselor and see what they can do for you.
Many community services may provide you with counseling for no cost at all. Talk to one of them and see if they are available to help you.
Some counselors offer pro bono slots, which are free counseling slots designed for the community’s help. The problem is that there aren’t too many of these slots available, but with that said, it’s worth it to call in and ask.
Group therapy tends to be cheaper than normal, 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 community and being able to speak to multiple people about their issues. Sometimes, you may be able to come up with the solution to your problem by speaking to multiple people who have been there and done that.
Your health insurance may be able to cover some of your counseling. Health insurance is finicky, so it all depends on what kind of health insurance you have and what kind of counselors you want to see. Talk to your health insurance provider and see which counselors accept your insurance and how much your copay is. Some insurance companies may even cover the entire cost of the session.
If you are religious, your pastor may be able to provide counseling from a religious perspective. Religious counseling isn’t 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 that religious, religious counseling may be worth a try.
Thanks to the internet, counseling is easier than ever. No longer does one have to travel far for a good counselor, but the services come to you instead. Here are a few ways online counseling can help.
Best of all, online counseling can be much more affordable than the traditional way of counseling. Sometimes, they may work for the online counseling site, and you may pay a monthly fee to the site itself.
Changing Your Lifestyle
While you wait for a good counselor or see one, some lifestyle changes can boost your mental health. These changes include:
Sometimes, changing your lifestyle is for the better, and you can reap many benefits from it.
Counseling is for everyone, and not just for the wealthy. As more and more people realize how beneficial counseling is, more affordable options have become available. You shouldn’t skip out on seeking help just because you think you can’t afford it.
A counselor can help you fix your mental health issues and get you on the road to great mental health. Find a therapist today and see what they can do for you.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Is therapy worth the cost?
Your health is always worth investing in, and therapy is an excellent way to treat mental illness and promote your overall well-being. From a financial standpoint, therapy may seem pricey, but think of it this way: when you can manage your stress, feel motivated each day, and avoid the drag of fatigue and depression, you will 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’s no excuse 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. Note that 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).
And unfortunately, some 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. Unfortunately, many therapists are unable to accept insurance because they are not reimbursed enough by the insurers! This drives 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. For example, many university students can access counseling at their infirmary, and many workplaces offer Employee Assistance Programs with limited counseling.
You can also look into an online therapy provider. If you need regular sessions, you may quickly max out your allowable appointments. Online therapy typically doesn’t 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 and veterans and survivors of domestic violence in many areas. 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 keep it up or engage with your therapist. 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 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, from as low as $60 to as high as $300. It largely depends on where you’re located, what types of therapy you’re seeking, and whether the therapist is private-practice or part of a health organization.
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.
Your community also may have a psychotherapy collective in which therapists pool their resources to provide more affordable therapy.
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. Don’t forget to reach out to your local community organizations for guidance, especially if you are a vulnerable group member. You may qualify for free therapy.
You can also search for a local psychotherapy collective or a sliding-scale therapist online. 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. You can also look for a local psychotherapy collective that provides lower-cost treatments.
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’re able to afford the initial few sessions but struggle to continue, work with your therapist to obtain the right tools so that you can self-direct your therapy. This is more effective for the cognitive behavioral therapy and other therapies where you have a lot of homework anyway. This will be crucial to your success (and often, more affordable). And 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.