How Affordable Therapy Can Help You

Medically reviewed by April Justice, LICSW
Updated March 23, 2024by BetterHelp Editorial Team

Did you know? Experts estimate that over 41.7 million US adults went to therapy in 2021, and the number continues to rise. However, as stigmas around mental health decrease, the option to receive support and life-changing tools is thought to be increasing over time. With or without a mental health diagnosis or concern about specific difficulties, therapy may help empower you to live the life you want, foster better habits, and improve your health through sleep hygiene, self-care and unique coping mechanisms.  

Barrier to care: cost of therapy

The opportunity to address mental health concerns in therapy can significantly improve our lives. However, despite the benefits available through counseling, many individuals find that the $100 to $200 a session cost of in-person therapy makes receiving mental health services, like grief counseling or treatment for mental illness symptoms, unavailable (or at the very least, difficult to pay for over time). In these cases, finding low-cost therapy services that fit your financial needs and are convenient can benefit you and allow you to receive the support you seek. Read on to learn more about availing affordable counseling.

Don’t let money problems keep you from getting therapy

How to proceed if you’re struggling to afford therapy

A financial event like losing a job, experiencing divorce, or losing a sum of money can cause stress, and you may worry that you won’t be able to afford to receive therapy due to it. In these cases, low-cost counseling or targeted financial aid may be an option.

Financial worries may cause stress—and cause individuals to feel unable to receive support due to therapy costs. Socioeconomic conflicts may also cause mental health symptoms in certain circumstances. 

Below are a few ways you can proceed if you determine that you cannot afford therapy services. Although not all options are a replacement for professional therapy, they may help you find resources or helpful information in your area. 

Research mental health and self-care 

While the internet can contain misinformation, it may also provide helpful and legitimate tips and advice—such as how you can find a therapist in your area. You can target your searches to the condition, symptom, or conflict you’re experiencing. For example, you might find advice specifically for people who have panic attacks or individuals living with eating disorders. Or you may be searching for healthy ways to parent a young child. You may find a local foundation that offers financial support for mental health needs and services. You may even find free or low-cost self-help print books or eBooks online to help you reduce stress. 

Some authors create workbooks with standard therapy practices that can be used to reduce anxiety, worry or stress. You may also be able to find these resources for free at your local library. If you don’t know where to start, look for recommended books or start with bestsellers. You may also choose to read advice articles or seek information on the website of a relevant organization. For example, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration provides information on various disorders through its What is Mental Health? page. If you’re looking for scientific studies, students may have entry through university libraries, or you can consider browsing a search engine like Google Scholar.


Listen to podcasts and watch videos

You may be able to gain knowledge from licensed mental health professionals via podcasts and videos. Consider watching TED Talks by psychologists or videos related to your symptoms. Often, these materials are motivational and can offer short-term tips and tricks to cope with various concerns. 

Talk to someone you trust 

Consider talking to a significant other, family, friend, mentor or someone you trust. If you cannot find someone within your immediate support system, you can also look for support groups and clinics near you. If local groups do not meet face-to-face, you may be able to find communities online. Group therapy for mental health conditions and other concerns can also be an option. For example, group therapy for anger management provides participants with the opportunity to connect with people who are experiencing similar challenges. 

These areas may offer more affordable therapy cost options because support groups and clinics are live sessions often moderated by licensed mental health professionals or peers experiencing similar symptoms, with multiple clients receiving treatment at once. Some support groups may be free to attend. 

Rework your budget 

If you’re spending money on items you don’t need, you can try to cut those costs to save up for therapy each month. For example, a five-dollar coffee daily can add up to $150 a month, which could be spent on one or two therapy sessions. Assess your spending priorities to decide if therapy is feasible for you.

Find a sliding-scale therapist 

Many traditional therapists offer a sliding scale fee structure at their jobs, meaning they budget according to an individual’s income and financial ability. They may be able to provide cheaper sessions for those with a lower income. These methods, as well as others, may help you find and pay for affordable counseling alternatives.

Guidance versus counseling

To decide on the type of therapy you want to pursue, you may benefit from knowing the difference between guidance and counseling. Guidance is advice from an authority or subject matter expert. Your superior at work, a nurse, a career coach, or a religious leader may provide you with guidance. Guidance is often sought to resolve a problem negatively impacting your schooling, work, or family life. 

Conversely, counseling is generally considered to be a service provided by a licensed professional to support personal or psychological concerns. Unlike guidance coaches, the providers offering counseling generally have a master’s or doctorate degree, clinical hours of experience, and an up-to-date license to counsel in their state. These professionals offer therapy, whereas those offering guidance may offer life coaching. 

Further financial support for mental healthcare

Regardless of your financial situation, support may be available. Before making a choice, contact your primary care physician to enlist their help in finding a counselor to add to your healthcare team. They might be aware of programs in your community that are affordable. Your doctor may refer you to a specialist within your budget or help you find case management to get you signed up for government benefits or health insurance. Many states offer complete health insurance coverage through government plans like Medicaid or Medicare to those who qualify. If you have a disability, a low income or are over a certain age, you might qualify for admittance to a program that can help. Talk to your local health services office to inquire about your eligibility for affordable in-person therapy options.

If you have health insurance, you may consider calling your health insurer to ascertain your coverage and any limitations involved. You may be asked questions about your employment, your income, or if you are unemployed. These questions may determine the number of times you can meet with a counselor per year. Many workers can also offer a limited number of therapy sessions for free through their employee assistance program.

Don’t let money problems keep you from getting therapy

Hotlines and resources

There are also free and affordable clinics that can direct you to a therapist or counselor. Various online groups sponsor affordable support groups as well, such as the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), the American Group Psychotherapy Association (AGPA), and the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance. 

If you are in crisis or are contemplating suicide or self-harm, please consider reaching out to one of the hotlines below. The people who monitor these hotlines can give you appropriate resources and support for crises: 

You may also consider contacting the following nonprofit resources for guidance: 

  • The US Department of Veterans Affairs 
  • The International OCD Foundation
  • The National Hospice and Palliative Care Association (NHPCO)

Affordable counseling through online therapy

If you seek a licensed therapist to treat mental health symptoms, stress or other life concerns, the costs of traditional therapy may represent a significant barrier. In these cases, online therapy may be hundreds of dollars cheaper per month than in-person therapy. For example, platforms like BetterHelp for individuals and Regain for couples cost $65 to $100 (based on factors such as your location, referral source, preferences, therapist availability and any applicable discounts or promotions that might apply) to have sessions with a qualified therapist. You can also apply for financial aid through both platforms. 

Despite the lower cost, online therapy platforms can provide licensed, trained, experienced and vetted therapists in a convenient way for many. This form of treatment has also been clinically suggested to deliver the same results in effectiveness as face-to-face options. 

You can schedule communication through phone, video or live message chat sessions with your therapist—and you can utilize resources like journal prompts, worksheets and potential webinars through the app.


Finding low-cost therapy can be challenging. However, there are many forms of mental healthcare support available. If you’re struggling to find an option in your area, you might consider online therapy, support groups or life coaching. If you want to learn more about how much online therapy may cost, you may consider reaching out to a therapist for further information and guidance. BetterHelp can connect you with an online therapist in your area of need.
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