How Low Cost Counseling Can Help You
By: Sarah Fader
Updated February 26, 2021
Medically Reviewed By: Audrey Kelly, LMFT
Everyone experiences mental health issues, and can use the support of others. Whatever you’re going through, therapy can be a powerful ally to help you improve your well-being. With or without a mental health issue, it can help empower you to live the life you want, foster better habits, and even improve your quality of sleep.
Financial worries and woes can be a leading cause of stress for individuals. Socioeconomic issues can go hand-in-hand with mental illness. In some circumstances, a financial event like losing your job or going through a divorce can spark a snowballing cycle of mental health issues. This is where low-cost counseling can help you.
An integral reason some people do not seek therapy is that they believe it is too expensive. It either will drain their bank accounts, or they have a preconceived notion that therapy is costly. If you worry about the cost of traditional counseling with a therapist or another method, here is how low-cost counseling can help you:
Read All You Can About Your Disorder
While the internet can be a cesspool of invalid information, it can also provide helpful and legitimate tips and advice. Target your searches to your particular mental health issue. For example, if you have a social phobia every time you deal with a new situation, then research anxiety and social phobias. Low-cost self-help print books or eBooks can also be a great place to start. You will likely be able to access these resources for free at your local library. If you don't know where to start, then look for recommended books or start with bestsellers. You may also choose to talk with a local therapist, read advice articles, or seek information on organizations' websites.
Listen To Podcasts And Watch Videos
There's a wealth of knowledge available from licensed mental health professionals via podcasts and videos. Check out TED Talks or something else related to your particular concerns. Often, these materials are motivational and give you the tips and tricks you need to cope with the symptoms of your mental health disorder.
Talk To Someone About Your Issues.
This could be in the form of a significant other, family member, friend, mentor, or someone else you trust. If that is something that doesn't work for your particular scenario, then look for support groups near you to discuss problems and solutions. If local groups do not meet in-person, you will likely be able to find communities that get together online. Group therapy can also be a good option. Often, these offer more low-cost counseling options because support groups are moderated by licensed mental health professionals or peers going through the same things as you.
Rework Some Of Your Expenses So You Can Afford Low-Cost Counseling And Other Forms of Help
If you're spending money on things you don't need, then try to cut some of those costs so you can put some money toward therapy. Most of us incur little expenses throughout the week that can add up to large sums. It could take the form of an extra cup of coffee in the afternoon, daily fast-food runs, and more. Assess your spending priorities and see if therapy is something really valuable to you.
These methods, as well as others, will help you find low-cost counseling alternatives that won't add additional financial stress and will give you the help you need.
To decide the kind of counseling you want to pursue, it is essential to know the difference between guidance and counseling. Guidance is advice from some authority or subject matter expert. Your superior at work, a nurse, or your religious leader, for example, can provide you with guidance. It is usually sought to resolve a problem or find an alternative to a difficulty you are having regarding relationships you are encountering that are interrupting or negatively impacting your schooling, your work, or your family. Counseling, on the other hand, is given by a professional to help you with personal or psychological problems. These problems do not necessarily involve anyone except yourself, how you feel emotionally, and how you can conduct yourself in various situations, regardless of whether others are involved.
Regardless of your financial situation, you can always find help in some form. The first contact you should make is with your medical doctor. They have access to various programs in your community that you can contact. Your doctor can refer you to a specialist and, with this referral, the costs will almost always be covered by your government health care provider. Your medical doctor cannot prescribe psychiatric medications. Some programs, however, like the Partnership for Prescription Assistance, can give you financial assistance for psychiatric medications that you cannot afford. You can also ask to be given a generic version of the prescription, which is almost always less expensive. The Mental Health Parity Act and Addiction Equity Act of 2008 requires health insurers to guarantee benefits, and coverage is not unduly restricted. You should contact your health insurer to ascertain the coverage you have and the 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 per year you can visit the counseling service.
There are also free or low-cost clinics that can direct you to a therapist or counselor. Take advantage of online platforms like BetterHelp. Here you can find confidential sessions over your phone or laptop. The cost for a subscription of this type of service will undoubtedly be cheaper for you if you don't have behavioral health insurance. Various online contacts sponsor affordable support groups as well, such as the National Alliance for Mental Health, the American Group Psychotherapy Association, and the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance. There are also many crisis hotlines in almost every city if you need to talk to someone immediately. The people who monitor these hotlines are trained to give you appropriate information and to point you in the right direction to get help. You can also contact NeedyMeds, which will help you find an assistance program so that you can more easily afford your medications and healthcare costs.
Besides depression and anxiety disorders, there are other specialized associations you can contact for low-cost or free resources. These include AllTreatment, the Department of Veterans Affairs and U.S. Vets, RAINN (for survivors of sexual assault), the International OCD Association, The National Hospice and Palliative Care Association (grief counseling), GriefShare (group sessions), the National Eating Disorders Association, and Andrea's Voice. Almost all associations of this type also have hotlines.
Many pharmaceutical companies offer patient assistance programs to lower prescription costs for people who do not have insurance. These include companies like AstraZeneca, Forest, Lilly, Pfizer, and Takeda. When your doctor prescribes a specific medication, ask if he can give you a sample, as pharmaceutical companies regularly supply physicians with samples as a promotion. You can then contact the pharmaceutical company and ask for information and application forms for their Prescription Savings or Assistance Program.
All U.S. citizens who have a low income can also apply for Medicaid, which covers mental health treatment. Persons who are 65 years of age or older can apply for Medicare, which includes hospital costs, medical insurance costs, and prescription drug coverage.
Medications have to be approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Before the approval is granted, pharmaceutical companies have to do clinical trials or research studies. You can apply to participate in a clinical trial, but you must be aware of the possibility of serious side effects. Not everyone who agrees to participate in a clinical trial will find an effective treatment. Clinical trials are listed on the ADAA website.
If you need to see a therapist or think you do, you might be surprised as to how affordable online counseling is with BetterHelp. The platform grants discounts in service to people who fall below certain income levels. Especially in bigger cities, therapy from BetterHelp is significantly less expensive than in-person care. This fact may lead you to believe that online counseling is lower in quality than in-person treatment. But in reality, online therapy has routinely been shown to deliver the same results as face-to-face options. Multiple meta-analyses have confirmed this fact.
Besides the lower costs, there are numerous other benefits that online counseling offers. With BetterHelp, you will have a high degree of flexibility when it comes to how you get in touch with your therapist. You can choose to communicate via chat, call, or videoconference. This can all be done from anywhere you have an internet connection. Read what others have to say about their experiences with BetterHelp below.
“Ronnie has clearly studied up on what she does. Her calming tone and understanding have definitely cleared up a lot of things in my life. Talking with her has been well worth the expense.”
“I worked with Kerry for over 2 years. The only reason I’m stopping is because I moved to another state out of her scope of practice. I tried a therapist before using BetterHelp and it was so expensive and not worth it. It wasn’t a good fit. I’m lucky BetterHelp paired me with her. From the beginning she taught me how to look at things I was dealing with and figure them out. She gave me worksheets and activities to do to help me actively work on learning new habits. She consistently checked in to see how my progress was going. She was always responsive timely and if she was busy she’d let me know when she’d be able to respond. I worked with her on anxiety, panic, child abuse, relationship issues, etc. she helped me through so much! I HIGHLY recommend working with her. You won’t be disappointed.”
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