How Low Cost Counseling Can Help You

Medically reviewed by April Justice, LICSW
Updated March 27, 2023by BetterHelp Editorial Team

Over 41.7 million US adults went to therapy in 2021, and the number continues to rise. As stigmas around mental health decrease, the option to receive support and life-changing tools increases. With or without a mental health diagnosis or concern, 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. 

However, despite these benefits, many individuals find that the $100 to $200 a session cost of in-person therapy makes receiving therapy inaccessible. In these cases, finding low-cost counseling may benefit you and allow you to receive the support you seek. 

Don’t Let Money Problems Keep You From Getting Therapy

How To Proceed If You’re Struggling To Afford Therapy

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. 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 may be an option. 

Below are a few ways to proceed if you’re struggling to afford therapy. Although not all options are a replacement for professional therapy, they may help you find resources 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. Target your searches to the condition, symptom, or conflict you’re experiencing. You may find free or affordable 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 organizations’ websites. If you’re looking for scientific studies, students may have access 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 issues can also be an option. 

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 are free to attend. 

Rework Your Budget 

If you’re spending money on items you don’t need, 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 Therapy

Many traditional therapists offer sliding-fee scales 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 a service provided by a licensed professional to support personal or psychological concerns. Unlike guidance coaches, the provider offering counseling must 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 

Regardless of your financial situation, support may be available. Before making a choice, contact your primary care physician. 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 access to programs 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, 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. 

Don’t Let Money Problems Keep You From Getting Therapy

Low-Cost Counseling Options 

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, reach out to one of the hotlines below. The people who monitor these hotlines are trained to give you appropriate resources and support for crises: 

Consider also contacting the following nonprofit resources for guidance: 

Affordable Online Therapy Options 

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 $60 to $90 a session, paid every four weeks. You can also apply for financial aid through both platforms. 

Despite the lower cost, online therapy provides licensed, trained, experienced, and vetted therapists. This form of treatment has also routinely proven to deliver the same results in effectiveness as face-to-face options. You can schedule to communicate 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, consider reaching out to a therapist for further information and guidance. 

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