How Low Cost Counseling Can Help You
By Sarah Fader
Updated January 15, 2019
Reviewer Audrey Kelly, LMFT
Financial worries and woes can be a leading cause of stress for individuals. And when the person is prone to mental health related issues, therapy could be out of the question. 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 actually 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. Purchase low-cost self-help print books or eBooks or get them for free at your local library. If you don't know where to start, then look for recommended books or start with bestsellers. Or 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 from licensed mental health professionals in 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 with 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 or online to discuss problems and solutions. 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.
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. Sometimes, we all have little expenses that add up. It could be that 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.
In order to make a decision about the kind of counseling you want to pursue, it is essential to know the difference between guidance and counseling. Guidance is advice from someone in authority, usually your superior. Guidance is usually sought to resolve a problem or find an alternative to a difficulty you are having in regards to relationships you are encountering that are interrupting or negatively impacting your schooling, your work, or your family. Counseling 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 are able to conduct yourself in various situations, regardless if others are involved.
Regardless of your financial situation, you can always find help. The first contact you should make is with your medical doctor. He or she has access to various programs in your community that you can contact. In fact, 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. However, the Partnership for Prescription Assistance is a program to give 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. 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 new apps, such as TalkSpace. 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. There are also various online contacts that sponsor affordable group support groups, such as the National Alliance for Mental Health, the American Group Psychotherapy Association, and the Depression and Bi-polar 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, for example, AstraZeneca, Forest, Lilly, Pfiser, 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 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 effective treatment. Clinical trials are listed on the ADAA website.