What Does Therapy Cost?

Updated January 03, 2020

Medically Reviewed By: Aaron Horn

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Therapy is commonly seen as an expensive way to treat yourself. We may imagine middle-class or people sitting on the therapist's chair, but we never imagine the poor talking about their problems. Is therapy that expensive? If so, are there cheaper alternatives? It's hard to answer because our health care system is so inconsistent, but we will try to make as much sense out of it as we possibly can.

The Cost Of Therapy

It's hard to figure out the exact cost of a session because it depends on the therapist and what you're looking for. You may be able to get some ballpark figures, but like a baseball, those figures can fly out of the park at times.

Let's just say you need therapy for depression or a similar disorder. Your average session may end up costing anywhere from $50 to $250 per session. This is a large range, especially because you are going to need more than one session to deal with your problems. Say you need five sessions. You may be paying $250 in all, or end up paying over a grand. This is enough to raise an eyebrow for sure. Many factors alter the cost, including:

  • Where you are. Some places will charge more for therapy, especially if you live in a place where the cost of living is higher. A rural community will charge less, but will unfortunately have fewer options compared to a more expensive urban area.
  • How much you make. Some therapists charge rates based on a sliding scale, which means you pay what you can afford. This can be a good way for anyone to afford therapy regardless of income.
  • How experienced the therapist is. Someone who has more experience and more acclaimed may charge more than an intern or a newcomer.
  • Where you're getting your services from. Some therapists may charge less if they're public than private. Your local community clinic may provide services for free, or for a low general cost.

In the end, the only way to figure out how much therapy will cost is if you call the therapist and see how much they charge. With that said, if you can't afford therapy, how can you be able to receive the health care you need? Here are a few ways.

Look At School

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If your child is in school, you can probably get them a school counselor for no cost. If you're in college, there should be counselors available for you to speak to. Some universities may have counseling available to the public at a reduced rate. It doesn't hurt to ask someone if they offer public services. Plus, you're supporting your local counselors and people who are starting in the profession.

Speak To Your Family Doctor Or Psychiatrists

A family doctor is no substitute for therapy, and with a general doctor, they are often too busy to listen to everything you have to say. They may be able to help you, however, by recommending a therapist for you. Also, doctors can prescribe medications to treat your symptoms. However, you should focus on the cause of those symptoms, which is what a counselor can help you with.

Look At Clinics

A medical clinic or a hospital may be able to provide low-cost therapy to you to treat your mental health issues. Talk to your local hospital and see what they can provide.

The problem with a local clinic, however, is that they are often overbooked, and it could take a long time to get service. This may mean that you won't be able to have the healthcare needed until it's too late. However, if you can wait, or if you get lucky and find an opening, it can be a great option.

Sliding Scale

We mentioned this before, but we will mention it again. Many counselors offer a sliding scale payment system, where you pay a rate based on how much you earn. Talk to a counselor and see if they offer, or will consider, sliding scale payments. It could save your life.

Look To Community Agencies

There may be community services that can give you counseling for little to no money. These local agencies are there to provide help for the people. So speak to one of them and see what they can do for you.

Look To Group Therapy

Group therapy is when a counselor talks to multiple people at once. Because they are able to treat multiple people at once, it usually costs less. Some people may feel that with group therapy, they are less concentrated on. However, there are others who like having more people who have similar problems. Many people often find that a group helps people discover their own answers.

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Your Insurance

If you have health insurance, counseling can be covered by them. It all depends on who your provider is and what services are available in your area. To figure out what is covered, talk to your insurance provider or go to their website. You should be able to find a list of counselors nearby. Your insurance should pay some, if not all of your costs. It just all depends on where you are, who your insurance provider is, and who you want to see.

If you don't have insurance, you can always do some research and see what a local office can provide for you. You may be surprised.

Go To A Church

If you are religious, your pastor can be a counselor as well, providing your guidance from the perspective of your faith. Religious counseling is quite popular, and a good religious counselor will use a science-based approach in addition to faith-based. Their services are usually done for the good of the community, meaning they're free to the public. Give them a shot if you are religious.

Try Online Counseling

The Internet has made many aspects of our life much more affordable. How we shop, how we consume media, and many other parts of our lives have been simplified thanks to the Internet. One form of life that is also becoming more affordable is counseling.

Online counseling has become the rage recently, and there are many good reasons. Here are a few of those.

  • Counseling at any time. Someone who works long hours or is busy in general may not be able to make it to a traditional therapist's office.
  • For those who have disabilities. If you have a disability, it may make it harder for you to commute. Online counseling allows you to access therapy from any location.
  • For those who have trouble speaking. You can talk to a therapist through text if you want to. While body language and tone may be lost in translation, it allows more people to be able to voice their concerns. Alternatively, if you're on a commute and need to speak to a counselor now, you can type your concerns without talking in public.
  • Because technology has advanced, it's much easier to have video chats from any place at any time, with a personal connection that can still be strong.

Finally, let's talk about the affordability of online counseling. Most online counselors are private, and they charge less than a counselor who communicates traditionally. This is due to the work from home aspect of counseling. A traditional counselor will usually have a clinic outside their home they have to pay for, but an online counselor may work from home, and thus have fewer bills. This makes online counseling worth a shot.

Lifestyle Changes

While this is no substitute for speaking to a counselor, there are lifestyle changes you can make to improve your overall mental health. These include:

  • Healthy dieting. Some fatty foods can make you feel worse. Eating healthier foods can improve your overall mood.
  • Exercise releases feel-good chemicals in the brain and just feels better for you overall.
  • Eliminating the source of your stress. Is your project making you stressed? Finish it!

Making lifestyle changes can make you feel better until you can get the help you need. So make that change and see what it can do for you.

In Conclusion

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Is counseling for the rich? As mental health awareness has increased, more people realize that counseling is for everyone. Just because you don't have much money doesn't mean that you shouldn't seek counseling. Sometimes, your mental health problems may even be preventing you from advancing in the world. Many problems can prevent you from seeking the career of your dreams, such as the lack of confidence, lack of motivation, or anxiety. All of which a counselor can help you to fix. Your mental health is important, so don't waste it.


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