Traditional therapy comes at a high cost, which unfortunately keeps a lot of people from seeking it out. Many people also don’t know how to use insurance to pay for rehab or mental health care — or even that it’s possible. Fortunately, many major insurances do cover a portion of these expenses.
One study on therapy costs found that 33% of people find the expense of therapy to be the main obstacle in seeking out mental health care. An average therapy session can run anywhere from $50 to $300 depending on the city and therapist, with initial consultations running even higher.
Even people with health insurance that covers addiction and mental health can struggle to cover the costs of copays and deductibles. However, there are some other options available for people who can’t shell out hundreds of dollars a month on therapy. It may take a little more effort to seek out alternatives, but your mental health is well worth the effort.
- Sliding Scale Therapy
Many therapists, psychologists, and psychiatrists who offer traditional therapy also offer sessions at a reduced cost that’s tailored to your income. This is called a sliding scale. Some therapists prefer patients who pay out of pocket so they can avoid the hassle of filing claims with insurance, and they may be willing to work with you and offer their services at a lower rate.
There are some online directories for finding therapists that can help you locate a therapist at a rate that works for you.
- Talk to Your Employer
Talking to your job about your mental health can be intimidating and may not be an option for everyone, but many employers have programs in place to help offset the cost of therapy. There are three standard options:
- health savings accounts (HSAs)
- flexible spending accounts (FSAs)
- employee assistance plans (EAPs)
HSAs allow you to set aside money in a dedicated savings account that is meant specifically for healthcare-related costs and can be saved over a long period of time. Employer-sponsored FSAs help to reduce the costs of therapy and lower your amount of taxable income. EAPs are typically found in bigger companies with more resources for employees, and they may provide mental health counseling.
Your human resources department will be able to point you in the right direction if they offer any of these. They may be services offered internally through the company or referrals to a local mental health service.
- Low-Cost and Free Community Clinics
While it might take some extra effort to find a community clinic, it can pay off in dividends. These can range from professionally staffed community clinics to free mental health counseling offered by hospitals, state-run services, and even churches or synagogues. The latter options are a little more difficult to seek out, and you may need to try calling each of these places individually to see if they have any resources.
Community clinics are often able to reduce costs by bringing in students studying a range of mental health services who are supervised by professional therapists and psychologists.
These can be found via online directories or by asking your primary care physician for a recommendation. While they do sometimes come with the caveat of long waits, it can still be worth it to make an appointment if you have a non-urgent issue.
- Online Therapy Apps
Online therapy and therapy apps exploded in popularity during the pandemic, which also saw a sharp rise in people seeking out mental health services. It provides a lot of benefits that traditional therapy can’t, such as flexibility, lower costs, and therapy through phone calls and even texting.
Some therapy apps offer subscription services, which may charge anywhere from $60 to $100 a week. Depending on where you live, a full month of therapy can be significantly cheaper than a couple of in-office visits.
While online therapy has been shown to be just as effective as in-person therapy for common problems like depression and anxiety, it may not be the best fit for someone with more severe mental disorders like borderline personality disorder or PTSD. It’s important to have an idea of what will best suit you before pursuing this option.
- Support Groups
Support groups are an invaluable option for people seeking support and healing from things like addiction, depression, eating disorders, and PTSD. There are even support groups for people who have chronic or terminal illnesses. They provide a free community setting where people can share and connect with others who have been through similar challenges.
These groups can be found both locally and online. Some may charge a small fee, but many are free services. They may be open and unfiltered talk time or have a leader who keeps things moving in a specific structured direction.
- Colleges and Universities
If you are currently a college student, then there’s a good chance that your university offers free or reduced-cost counseling services to students. These can be great resources if you’re experiencing stress or depression due to your studies.
Even if you’re not a college student, your local school may still have some options for you. Much like free clinics, some schools will offer sliding scale sessions with graduate students in training to work in mental health services. They work under the supervision of their instructors and may offer sessions for as little as $1.
While these services are usually offered for limited periods (for example, you won’t likely be seeing the same graduate student for a year’s worth of therapy sessions), they can be very helpful to people with conditions like anxiety or post-partum depression.
If you’re experiencing a mental health emergency and don’t have time to wait for a therapy appointment, there are some 24/7 crisis hotlines that can help. There are hotlines available for depression, sexual abuse, and domestic violence. They are staffed by experienced professionals who can help you mitigate your emergency and get you in touch with more resources to help.
The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is one of the most prominent hotlines and has saved countless lives since its inception. If you or a loved one are in crisis, don’t hesitate to reach out.