Medically reviewed by Katelyn Hagerty, FNP
Written by Our Editorial Team
Last updated 8/1/2021
Whether you’ve been diagnosed with depression, an anxiety disorder or simply want to talk to a professional about the issues that are bothering you, therapy can be a valuable tool for gaining control over your mental health and improving your life.
According to the American Psychological Association, it may require anywhere from 15 to 30 or more sessions for many people to experience noticeable benefits from therapy.
Because taking part in therapy is usually a long-term commitment, the total cost of treatment is a common concern.
The cost of therapy can vary based on a number of factors, from your location to your insurance coverage and the type of mental health professionals you choose to work with.
Below, we’ve explained how much therapy costs, as well as the numerous factors that affect the price of therapy. We’ve also shared some methods that you can use to make accessing therapy more affordable.
Since therapists and other mental health providers are free to set their own pricing, there isn’t a precise cost of therapy throughout the country.
In general, pricing for therapy can vary pretty wildly — from under $100 per hour to literally hundreds of dollars per hour — for their services.
In large cities such as New York City or Los Angeles, it’s far from uncommon to pay more than $200 per session for a therapist’s time and expertise.
Several factors affect the cost of therapy, including:
The therapist’s training and background. Becoming an experienced therapist is a costly, demanding process. Like other professionals, highly trained therapists charge significant fees due to the amount of time and effort they’ve invested into developing their skills.
Demand for the therapist. Well-known, in-demand therapists may need to charge more for their services.
Specialized skills and qualifications. Therapists who specialize in certain mental health conditions or types of therapy may be more expensive.
Your location. As we mentioned above, it’s common to pay more for a therapy session in NYC and other large cities. These areas tend to have high costs of living, meaning it’s often more expensive to run a private therapy practice.
An easy way to get a general feel for local therapy pricing is to contact several therapists in your area, then compare their per-session fees.
Many health insurance companies provide mental health coverage for some services, including therapy.
In fact, under the Affordable Care Act, all health insurance plans purchased through the Health Insurance Marketplace are required to give coverage for mental and behavioral health services such as psychotherapy and counseling.
If you have employer-sponsored health insurance, you can find out about your plan’s coverage for mental health services by contacting your company’s human resources (HR) office.
Your insurance provider may pay for the entire cost of therapy or require a copay for each visit you make to a therapist.
Most health insurance providers have certain requirements that you’ll need to follow in order to use your coverage.
For example, you may receive a mental health diagnosis before you’re able to access coverage for therapy, or have a referral from a healthcare provider.
You may also need to visit a therapist within your health insurance provider’s network of mental health providers (referred to as an “in-network” provider).
If you have health insurance, you can contact your insurance company directly to find out more about your level of coverage and any specific requirements you’ll need to follow to access your plan benefits.
If you don’t have insurance that covers therapy, there are still several things that you can do to make accessing therapy more affordable.
Some therapists offer “sliding scale” pricing -- a pricing system that adjusts the cost of therapy based on your income.
If you have a limited income, visiting a sliding scale therapist can make accessing therapy a far more affordable option.
You can find sliding scale therapists locally by searching for “sliding scale therapy” followed by the name of your city or region.
In order to qualify for sliding scale fees, you may need to show proof that you have a limited income, financial responsibilities or dependents.
Some therapists may request a W-2 form, tax return or other document showing your income.
Sliding scale pricing can vary from one therapist to another, making it best to check with several therapists to make sure you’re eligible for an acceptable rate.
Some employers offer Employee Assistance Programs that include therapy and other services to help you maintain your mental health.
If you have a mental health issue or other problem that’s affecting your workplace performance, your employer may provide therapy or counseling.
You can find out more about these benefits by contacting your company’s HR department.
Many state and municipal governments offer free or low-cost mental health services for people in need.
These services are often provided by student psychologists and other mental health providers, usually in a community clinic setting. They may also be provided by hospitals, medical centers and other facilities.
While you may still need to pay for this type of therapy, it’s usually less expensive than talking to a private practice therapist.
You can find local mental health services by contacting your city or state’s health department, or by contacting your local National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) organization.
If you’re a college or university student, you may be able to access free or low-cost therapy via your campus’s health center.
Many campuses provide one-on-one access to therapists, counselors and other mental health providers, as well as support groups and other mental health services. You can find out about these services by contacting your campus’s health services center.
Group therapy (or online group therapy) involves meeting with a therapist as part of a group, usually of between five and 15 people.
Taking part in therapy as part of a group can feel unusual at first, but it can also provide unique benefits that aren’t always available with other forms of therapy.
For example, you may find that discussing things as part of a group helps you to put your unique issues in perspective.
Since group therapy involves one therapist and a group of people, it’s generally more affordable than individual therapy.
Finally, one of the easiest, most convenient ways to access therapy at a lower price is to take part in online therapy.
Online therapy gives you the same access to a therapist as in-person treatment, only it takes place online via chat or video.
Instead of traveling to see your therapist, you can talk from the comfort of your living room, bedroom or any other private, comfortable space.
This type of therapy can be particularly cost effective if you live in a large, expensive city such as NYC or LA.
We offer individual therapy, support groups and a large range of other online mental health services.
Therapy ranges in price from $75 to $200 or more for each session, with factors such as your location and choice of therapist affecting the total amount you’ll need to pay.
If you have health insurance, your provider may offer coverage for therapy that helps to lower your cost per session.
If you don’t have health insurance, you may be able to reduce the cost of therapy by working with a sliding scale therapist, consulting your campus’s mental health services, taking part in group therapy, or by taking part in therapy online.
You can also use tools such as our online mental health resources and content to start taking control over your mental health and making progress on your own.