Medically reviewed by Katelyn Hagerty, FNP
Written by Our Editorial Team
Last updated 7/14/2021
Making the decision to prioritize your mental health and wellness is always a step in the right direction.
To set you on the best path, options like mediation, yoga and mindfulness are commonly recommended.
However, one of the most tried and tested methods for maintaining psychological wellbeing is therapy.
In 2019 alone, almost 10 percent of adults in the U.S had received counseling or therapy from a mental health provider.
However, while effective, therapy isn't always the most affordable option.
If you've struggled with getting into therapy because of its cost, we'll be explaining why this treatment sometimes comes with a hefty price tag, and simple ways you can receive therapy at an affordable rate.
If you've done your research on prices psychologists, psychiatrists and other mental health professionals charge for their services, you may have come across certain fees that made your wallet shrink back in fear.
Depending on a number of factors, therapy can cost anywhere from $30 to as high as $250 per session without insurance coverage. Here's why:
Before knocking on a therapist's door, you should know that where you’re located can oftentimes play a big role in charges for therapy.
For instance, those in rural areas may be charged lower rates for their treatment, sometimes parting with as little as $40 per session.
Compared to more urban areas like New York and Los Angeles, where therapy sessions can reach up to $250 per session, this can feel like a bargain.
Like any profession, therapists tend to command a higher rate where they have more experience and certifications in their field.
When you meet with a therapist who has spent years honing their craft and dealing with multiple patients with wide-ranging challenges, they are most likely to charge higher than say, a therapist who is only just starting out.
In some cases, the condition you're looking to manage with therapy may be the reason you're charged so highly.
More common conditions like depression and anxiety will typically attract lower fees, but more complex challenges, such as postpartum depression or schizophrenia, can run the gamut in pricing.
This is generally because these conditions require specialized knowledge to be treated properly.
Your mental health is too important for your well-being to be determined or hindered by your income.
To make therapy more accessible to you, regardless of how much you bring home, here are a few options that can help with making therapy more affordable:
If your therapy charge comes to a figure that could put a big dent in your savings, you should consider the possibility of a payment plan with your therapist.
This could permit you to make payments in installments without attracting interest. You may also attempt a setup where you pay a portion of the fees first, before adding the rest to a tab you can clear off when you are more financially stable.
Ideal for people who don’t have health insurance, sliding scale therapy is an increasingly popular payment method being offered by providers.
Essentially, sliding scale therapy is a sort of “pay-what-you-can” way of getting treatment, where a provider bills you based on what you can afford according to things like your income and level of dependents.
It ensures that you get the help you need while paying only what you can absolutely afford to.
For an affordable alternative to one-on-one therapy sessions, group therapy, where participants with similar challenges meet for guidance and support, may be a preferred option.
Support groups are helpful for a wide range of conditions, like if you struggle with alcohol use, an eating disorder, a difficult medical condition, chronic pain, etc.
Groups are particularly helpful in situations that usually attract a level of stigma.
Another easy hack for getting therapy at a reduced rate is to receive treatment from local colleges or universities.
Free therapy may be provided to students or local residents who can’t afford it, and are not covered by insurance.
These services are usually provided by students, but before any fears about their abilities creep in, you should know that they are usually supervised by a licensed counselor to give you the right treatment for your condition.
Organizations like the National Alliance on Mental Illness are helping to ensure that mental health care is available to everyone, including those with limited finances.
Through local groups, these organizations offer everything from support meetings, to confidential group therapy sessions and courses for individuals suffering mental health challenges, as well as training to those interested in learning about mental health.
These services usually come at no charge or they may come in at subsidized rates.
In emergency situations where suicidal thoughts or cases of domestic violence require urgent attention, crisis hotlines can be reached for support and emotional care.
These helplines are manned by trained professionals who can get you through distress.
They may be reached at any time of day.
The internet provides the perfect intersection between affordable and accessible channels to therapy.
It can take different formats, from online chats and phone calls, to more intimate settings that allow for video conferencing between patients and their licensed therapist.
The best part about online therapy is its reduced charge.
If you're undecided about online therapy for your mental health, hers offers free online anonymous therapy.
In the future, you can try private sessions that come with subscription options to suit your payment preferences.
It’s hard to put a price tag on the value of sound mental health. This is why affordable access to therapy is so important for your overall well-being.
To side-step the often hefty costs of this care, discussing payment plans, speaking with a therapist about payment options, seeking out mental healthcare providers that offer sliding scale therapy or receiving treatment from colleges and universities are just some of the ways therapy may become more readily available.
For more about therapy, check out our guide on emotion focused therapy, a form of talk therapy that focuses on adult attachment and relationships.