The Benefits Of Getting Sliding Scale Therapy And Reduced-Cost Therapy Online

Updated October 30, 2020


Have you been wondering, "How does sliding scale therapy work? If you've ever heard someone say that they are getting reduced cost therapy, low-cost therapy, or therapy that is based on their income, they're most likely talking about sliding scale therapy.


Once you understand that sliding scale therapy can offer you a discount on therapy services, the next question you're likely to ask is "What is sliding scale therapy" and "How does sliding scale therapy work. In this article, we answer these questions and give you details on how sliding scale therapy works for today's mental health professionals.

Let's start with an explanation of how sliding scale therapy works.

Sliding Scale Therapy Explained

When clients use sliding scale therapy, it entitles them to receive the same quality of service as clients that pay full-price. The amount of the discount applied to sliding scale therapy is determined by the therapy provider, practice, therapy group, or therapy platform.

The average cost of getting in-office therapy in the United States ranges between $65.00 - $200.00 per session. This cost doesn't account for additional fees related to transportation, medication management, time off work, or childcare that are often associated costs.

Sliding-fee scale therapy takes all of these factors into account when determining your cost of therapy. Alternatives to getting sliding-fee therapy are reduced cost therapy options provided by subscription-based online mental health platforms. In the next section, we talk about how to get reduced-cost therapy online.


Get Low-Cost And Reduced-Cost Therapy Online

Online therapy platforms offer clients access to high-quality mental health services at a discounted and affordable rate. Weekly therapy sessions with BetterHelp platform providers that include psychologists, licensed professional counselors, licensed clinical social workers, and marriage and family therapists start at just $40.00 per week.

Clients on the BetterHelp platform have a 24-hour a day access to the online platform and have the ability to schedule therapy sessions with their provider online at any time of the day or night - that is convenient for both parties' schedules. The most that clients on the pay for therapy services is $70.00 per week for expanded therapy options that include unlimited messaging therapy.

Therapy sessions conducted on this reduced-cost online therapy platform are conducted via SMS messaging, face-to-face-video chat, and audio sessions by phone. When clients use the BetterHelp platform for subscription-based therapy, they gain access to thousands of licensed and board-certified mental health professionals to choose from.

BetterHelp requires that its clients choose a therapy provider that is licensed in your state of residence to comply with legal regulations and to provide an uninterrupted continuum of care. Additional services that online mental health clients may need to supplement their online sessions are offline sessions with a psychiatrist or primary care physician to request and fill mental health-related prescriptions, offline group therapy extensions, and other recommended offline support options that help clients achieve their mental health goals faster.

Sliding scale therapy is a traditional therapy provided at a discounted rate to people who meet or are beneath a certain income threshold. Therapists set sliding scale fees in private practices and groups that have agreed to offer therapy and mental health-related services for a lower cost to income with lower household incomes.

Factors that determine the amount that a client will pay when using a sliding fee scale are total net income after taxes, the number of household dependents, household expenses, and other important factors. Once your therapist determines the amount of discount you're entitled to based on the therapists sliding scale fee requirements, they will notify you, and this will be the rate you pay for therapy.


Why Sliding Scale Fees Exist

Now that you understand what sliding fees are, you may wonder where they came from. Sliding fee scales are available in many healthcare industries that include mental and physical health. These low-cost therapies and medical fees are designed to level the playing field for mental health care and medical care related services.

Sliding fee scales make it possible for everyone to get therapy and medical care regardless of their location, insurance status, or income. Services like psychotherapy have been considered luxuries in the past to improve the lives of people who can take advantage of these services. Improved mental health affects physical health and vice versa. Having access to a variety of public health services helps to improve the quality of life for US citizens and also serves as a public good by providing everyone with equal access to services that provide an opportunity for an increased likelihood of wellness.

Mental health awareness programs are helping people to understand the value of getting psychotherapy and mental health-related services. Mental health-related issues are having a larger impact on society as we realize how many people are suffering from mental health issues. Forty-three million people in America suffer from mental health issues annually. This has an impact on our world.

With such a large amount of the population affected by mental health disorders and related conditions, this isn't a public health concern that we can continue to ignore. As awareness of the impacts of mental health (or lack thereof) become more widely known, more programs and services are being created and opening up to address this large-scale need. People with mental illness don't have to suffer in silence anymore. Mental health issues are losing their stigma as more people open up about their battles with mental illness, as represented by the increase in the number of mental health-related services in the United States.

Mental Health Awareness, Statistics, And Facts

Now that you have a better idea of how many people are affected annually by mental health in the US, let's look at a few more related statistics and facts.

According to the National Institute for Mental Health (NIMH), over 40 million Americans struggle with mental health issues in the US annually. The top complaints about mental health sufferers are anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and eating disorders. With 40 million Americans identifying as having mental health issues. Mental health awareness is becoming an important discussion when it comes to the topic of public health.

In 2008 the US government passed the Mental Health Parity Act that requires certain health insurance providers and employers to provide affordable mental health care services for their employees. Employers who have over 50 employees, who provide health insurance on the federal health insurance marketplace, and state insurance programs like Medicaid are required to provide their clients with equivalent medical care and mental health coverage.

The Mental Health Parity Act now requires these providers to offer mental health care plans and services that offer comparable mental health services and benefits as medical health care plans for diagnosis, treatment, prevention, and awareness for mental health-related conditions.

We consider mental illness just as serious as physical illness. People who suffer from symptoms of mental illness often suffer the same debilitating effects as people who are suffering from medical symptoms. Symptoms of mental illness can cause tension, rapid heart rate, clenching, and other physical stress responses in the body. If left untreated, mental health conditions can affect the overall physical health of the body.

General Benefits of Therapy

Counseling and therapy have benefits for mental health. It helps in overcoming a specific mental illness. Many people are concerned about the cost of therapy, especially when they think to pay out of pocket. Fortunately, there is affordable therapy or affordable counseling for people with low resources. Affordable therapy enables clients to pay lesser amounts for their mental wellbeing. For instance, they can help with issues relating to eating disorders, post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and more. Eating disorder is a complex mental health condition that usually requires the intervention of mental health experts.  Eating disorders are characterized by irregular eating habits. Fortunately, they can also be treated.

For this reason, it's important to find a therapist to provide support. Therapists can also help make clients make crucial decisions like continuing education and many other crucial choices. As little as continuing education may sound, it's a crucial decision to make for certain people.

Many health care providers make use of sliding scale therapy to overcome a mental illness. Sliding scale therapy is a fee structure that is very helpful for anyone with a low-income range. During times when you're confused, counseling serves as a weapon against psychological problems. In other words, it is helpful in conditions like grief, anxiety, and depression. When you speak about your thoughts and feelings, it helps you see them from a different perspective. 

With the help of trained therapists, you may have a cathartic experience from therapy. A cathartic experience is beneficial to your mental health, and it occurs when you have a release of your feelings or thoughts that you have kept to yourself for so long. Besides, during a counseling session, you need to face your feelings. Daily, people go in and out without ever giving time to how they feel. However, with individual or group therapy, you have a good chance of facing your thoughts and emotions and directly dealing with them. Thus, it's crucial to find a therapist when you feel confused or when you don't have a clear mind.

In therapy, the expert uses different techniques to figure out the best line of treatment. Besides mental health conditions, therapy is great at helping people with relationships and providing support through hard times. Group therapy or therapy through a support group is efficient for helping people with a range of mental health conditions. You can call this type of therapy a support group. Group therapy, through a support group, usually takes place in various locations like mental health clinics. If you find yourself in a hard place, try to speak to a trusted loved one. Opening up your thoughts can be very helpful to your mental health. You may also reach out to a therapist to provide help through your challenges. If you are worried about a therapy center session's cost, ask if they offer sliding scale therapy.

How To Get Started With Therapy

Whether you choose an online of the offline option for getting mental health services is completely up to you. However, we recommend that if you're suffering from debilitating symptoms of chronic mental health disorders like depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), or bipolar disorder (BPD) that you get help.


Chat with a licensed therapist online by taking advantage of free consultations and trials offered by leading therapy sites like Getting started with online therapy is as easy as registering for an account, selecting a provider, and logging in to your sessions. People who attend therapy online also have the option to remain anonymous. This is a benefit for people who want to remain anonymous for reasons of celebrity, safety, or others who have other privacy concerns.

For offline options near you, perform a Google search for free, low-cost, or reduced-cost therapy options near me." Your search may direct you to therapy options that provide low-cost or sliding-fee scale therapy in your region. If you live in a rural area and don't have any local providers - contact your local public health department or your local department of children and families for referrals and resources.

If none of these resources are giving you the results you need, contact your local United Way 211 service that can provide you with a listing of local resources for free and reduced-cost services in your region.

Final Thoughts

Now that you have the answer to the question, "What is sliding scale therapy?" you can feel more confident when making your selection of an online therapy provider. The national average for getting therapy in the United States can cost as much as $200.00 per hour.

Subscription-based therapy platforms are providing rural, low-income, and other mental health seekers with realistic options for getting affordable therapy online. Today's online therapy subscription-based therapy services make it possible for everyone to have equal access to talk therapy options.

If you're ready to get started with affordable subscription-based therapy with a licensed and board-certified mental health professional in your area, contact a BetterHelp therapy expert online now to get started!

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

  • What is a sliding scale in therapy?

A sliding scale is a kind of structure where people with low resources are supposed to pay a lesser fee for their mental health, including behavioral health. It's a structure that is often used in the health care or mental health care sector. Sliding scale therapy is very helpful for anyone with a low-income range. It's one of the mental health services that is based on income. However, the specific amount that the patient should pay for a sliding scale fee depends on his or her income. In other words, the lower the income, the less they pay to see a therapist or social worker for your mental health. 

The sliding scale structure goes beyond online therapy for your mental health; other medical health providers like dentists use this technique. Outside the health care and mental health care industry, a sliding scale is a fee structure that is useful for people into legal services.

Interestingly, the employee assistance program is available for some clients. With employee assistance programs, you can get some additional support in therapy. Besides, please note that the sliding scale fee is not a discount or sale strategy that can change later. Moreover, the amount you pay for the counseling services via sliding scale therapy is all based on your income. Generally, the sliding scale comes with various health care or mental health care benefits for clients. You don't have to meet a deductible for the sliding scale technique. In other words, you begin to pay a low sliding scale fee from the jump of online therapy. With the sliding scale, there is a greater level of privacy. As long as you're not dealing with insurance, you don't need to worry about your medical records being handled outside the online therapy room. So, you won't have your mental health sessions reported to an insurance company. 

Please note that since the sliding scale doesn't contribute to your deductible, you may have higher upfront costs before your insurance coverage starts. Generally, a sliding scale is very beneficial, and it is advisable for affordable therapy. If you are worried about a therapy center session's cost, ask the therapist or social worker if they offer sliding scale therapy.

  • How are sliding scale fees for therapy calculated?

The method of calculation of sliding scale fees may appear a little complicated for online therapy. However, it should be easy to figure out how to go about the calculation of sliding scale fees for online therapy with a close look. Remember that the amount that you pay for sliding scale therapy or online therapy is all calculated by your income. Sliding scale therapy is very helpful for anyone with a low-income range. There are no exemptions to what sliding scale therapy covers. They are beneficial, even for family therapy. With family therapy, the members of the household can improve communication and resolve conflicts. It is not just calculated based on your income, but also the national poverty levels in the United States of America. In other words, the amount any mental health client pays may be directly and strongly related to a specific income number, or it's relative to a client's income as to the Federal Poverty Levels in the US. If a therapist or social worker charges $300 hourly for your mental health, people with an income level at or lower than 100% of the Federal Poverty levels may need to pay a fee that the therapist predetermines or chooses. Whereas those with an income above the Federal Poverty Levels may pay more, depending on the percentage rate of their total income. If you are worried about a therapy center session's cost, ask if they offer sliding scale therapy.

  • How much should you pay for therapy?

Your mental health is worth a whole lot. Hence, it may not be easy to directly put a price to therapy in the health care or mental health care system. Fortunately, some people rely on health insurance to lower the overall costs. However, you may not have an insurance company that covers individual therapy or group therapy sessions, which begs the question, "What should you pay for online therapy?" Please note that therapy sessions in a therapy center are beyond the amount; it's all about your mental health and wellbeing. However, it's crucial that you find a way to figure out the price range for online therapy in the health care or mental health care system to be on the safest side. Averagely, online therapy in a therapy center costs between $60 to $120. You may find some that are lower than those upper and lower limits. Mental health professionals may charge per hour or session. Some utilize the sliding scale, a fee structure that helps you pay according to your income. Sliding scale therapy is very helpful for anyone with a low-income range. There are so many things that influence online therapy; they include the number of sessions you book, your present location, and your insurance provider. Aside from all of those factors, your mental health state also means a lot. Overall, the amount you pay for online therapy in a therapy center depends on many factors. Hence. You may pay a different amount based on your income level, and someone next to you may pay another amount. Please note that insurance is a great step to cutting down costs. If you are worried about a therapy center session's cost, ask if they offer sliding scale therapy.

  • How do you set up a sliding scale?

If you're running a mental health practice or a therapy center, you may need some knowledge on setting up a sliding scale for counseling services. Sliding scale therapy is very helpful for anyone with a low-income range. Most mental health professionals follow certain steps to setting a sliding fee scale. Sliding fee scales are available in many healthcare industries that include mental and physical health. It is very beneficial for patients unable to afford individual therapy for their mental health on a normal day due to their income level. Besides, it allows patients to afford other mental health services as well. Generally, the steps to create an appropriate sliding scale for counseling services may be a little complex. However, it doesn't take so much time ultimately. Before you create a sliding scale structure, begin by determining the whole cost of running your practice. The next step you should take is to add up your expenses. In other words, you need to make a proper list of all the expenses that it takes to run your medical practice for twelve months. While doing this, it is advisable to add up the hard and soft costs as well. After listing your expenses, take the next step to plan your sliding fee scale. Ensure to take time planning the sliding fee scale so you can get all the crucial numbers right.

Moreover, it's crucial to determine the general customary sliding scale fee for health services around your location. Please note that the statistics can vary from different parts of the country. If you are worried about a therapy center session's cost, ask if they offer sliding scale therapy.

  • How do I ask my therapist for a sliding scale?

Before starting online therapy, it's important to have a good discussion about your therapy sessions, including sliding scale therapy. If the therapist or social worker discusses a full fee unaffordable, you should speak to them and figure out whether they provide a sliding scale. Sliding scale therapy is very helpful for anyone with a low-income range. Besides, if they offer a sliding scale, tell them what you can afford for therapy services. When you discuss your income, they should take steps to accommodate you within the sliding scale they offer for online therapy. There's no cause for alarm. You don't need to worry about speaking to a trained professional. Therapists also have emotions, and they are very emphatic while offering therapy services, so they may understand your worries and support your way through online therapy. If you ever have fears, remember that the therapists have had the same discussions with many other patients. Hence, they are well-experienced at handling similar situations. 

  • How are sliding fee scales implemented?

The sliding scale fee is primarily meant for mental health patients who don't have enough money to cover online therapy completely. Sliding fee scales are available in many healthcare industries that include mental and physical health. Due to the structure, mental health clients can pay the amount that correlates with their income. Sliding scale therapy is very helpful for anyone with a low-income range. In other words, the fee is less expensive for those with low income and vice versa. After you're done setting up a sliding scale fee, it's important that you implement what you have created for online therapy. Ensure that you create a written policy for sliding scale therapy. In your application, the mental health client will see how to qualify, rectify, and other crucial documents, including the sliding scale fee schedule. It's crucial to make this paper easy to understand for mental health patients. Moreover, it's also crucial that you establish a policy for patients who use insurance.

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