If you're considering going to therapy but are concerned about
how much a therapist costs, you're not alone. How much you pay for therapy can depend on many factors, including what kind of therapy you choose, your insurance coverage, the qualification level of your therapist, and even where you live. A therapist's fees may also be too expensive at first, but a conversation with them could lead to a set-up that fits your needs and financial situation.
Asking for an adjusted rate can feel scary, but a good therapist should be able to work with you on pricing.
Lauren Korshak, MFT, a therapist, tells Bustle, "My full fee is on the higher side because of location, specialty, niche, and expertise, but I keep at least 30% of my spots as lower fee spots available to those in financial need. This includes students and people whose income would not allow them to pay the full fee." She explains that therapists are trained to talk about finances with their clients, and that if they don't have slots available themselves, they'll often be willing to give referrals to people who can fit a person's financial requirements. "I'm always willing to discuss people's financial concerns and want to work with them to find a solution that supports them," she says.
Bustle spoke to nine people about how much they pay for therapy. Their answers reveal a lot about therapy types, fee structures, and what options you might have to get cheap or free support.
Kara, In Her 20s
"I am currently in therapy and have been for the last year and a half. I pay $30 (with insurance covering a portion) each session and FaceTime with my therapist twice a month. Her fees are $175 for the initial session and $150 after that.
"I moved states and did not want to lose my therapist so have stuck with her. The rate did not change, despite my insurance now being active in NY (instead of FL)."
EMDR therapy and talk therapy and also send my 14 year old to therapy. I pay $180 for 60 minutes for EMDR and $100 for 60 minutes for my son. I have not tried to negotiate. They do run it through my insurance, however my insurance doesn't cover any of it." Anna, 31
"At one point I was spending $220 per session on a therapist (I'd been with her for four years and her price more than doubled in that time). She didn't take insurance. I finally couldn't afford it any more, and found a new therapist who was covered by my insurance who only costs my co-pay ($40).
I know therapists have to make their money too and I value their time and guidance, but I got to the point where I thought, 'If I don't make every second of this count and get actionable takeaways I'm wasting money.' It was even more pressure, leading to more anxiety. I think it's important for people to know there are other options and that even though you've built a relationship with someone, sometimes starting over or seeing a new therapist is incredibly beneficial (financially, and to get other perspectives)."
"I am currently in therapy. It was hard finding someone who took our insurance. I have a copay of $45, and my visits have recently been dropped to every two weeks. If I want extra I pay the full cost. I am fortunate to have insurance that covers a good part of it. They pay for 45 minutes, and I pay the difference plus the copay, so I get an hour.
"I have been seeing my therapist for about 20 months. I started twice a week, which I ended up paying a lot for as only one week was allowed, but no one told us about that until almost three months had gone by. When the insurance company finally contacted my therapist, I know she felt bad for me, but obviously she can't afford to give free sessions. So we paid a large lump sum and I dropped to seeing her less often."
"I'm currently in therapy via
Doctors on Demand [a virtual medical service]. Using my insurance my therapy appointments are free.
"I heard about Doctors on Demand from my insurance. Before using it I used
Talkspace. I don’t remember what it cost at the time; I believe around $100 a month." Heather, 37
"I currently pay my therapist $250 per session out of pocket. However, there have also been times in my life where I've seen a therapist on a sliding scale and paid anywhere between $125 to $175.
"I've never used insurance to cover these costs. To me, therapy is an experience I highly value because it's helped change my life in so many ways and I've found that when I show up and commit to investing in the process and myself big shifts happen."
Jenna, In Her 20s
"I’m a sexual assault survivor who has gone to three different therapists. I've been seeing a therapist in Toronto for the last two years. I was lucky to have all therapy costs covered by my workplace at the time to help me during this emotionally draining experience, but since becoming a new entrepreneur, it’s been a struggle to see my therapist as often as I’d like."
"I pay $45 per session, and it does not go through my insurance. This is a sliding scale fee, based on my income. It is near the lower side of the sliding scale; the lowest fee they offer is $35 per session. This is for talk therapy, with a student who is getting her hours for her license."
"I see a psychologist for my general and social anxiety, and have been going for a little over a year now. I’m currently doing weekly therapy sessions that cost $200, but because of my insurance I only pay a $20 copay.
"I also went to a different psychologist back in 2013, and that cost $150 but I still only paid my copay of $20."
having trouble finding affordable therapy, you might need to put in some legwork, but it's definitely possible to get low-cost options.
"There are quite a few scholarship programs for inpatient or intensive outpatient treatments, including
Project HEAL and 10,000 Beds," says Alicia McElhaney, founder of the feminist personal finance community SheSpends. " There are also quite a few nonprofits or government-funded groups that offer mental health services for people on Medicare or Medicaid and who are uninsured." She also recommends checking out group therapy: the National Eating Disorder Association , Alcoholics Anonymous, and other organizations offer free support groups that can be helpful.
You can also chat to local therapists about sliding scale rates, and investigate programs like Talkspace,
BetterHelp, or OpenPath, which use flexible pricing structures and subscriptions to access therapy. If you or someone you know is seeking help for mental health concerns, visit the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) website , or call 1-800-950-NAMI(6264). For confidential treatment referrals, visit the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration ( SAMHSA ) website, or call the National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP(4357). In an emergency, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK(8255) or call 911.
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