Is A Free Psychologist A Real Thing? Where To Find No-Cost Therapy Online

Medically reviewed by Nikki Ciletti, M.Ed, LPC
Updated November 29, 2023by BetterHelp Editorial Team

When you're experiencing a mental health condition that's getting in the way of your daily life, you may wish to seek support from a mental health professional.  

A counselor, therapist, or psychologist can provide insight, guidance, and emotional or mental health support. However, the cost of this support may feel prohibitive. If you're in need and concerned about the cost, finding free online therapy services or affordable counseling may be possible.

Psychologists Can Help You Strengthen Your Mental Health

"Free" Counseling Through Insurance 

If you need mental health treatment, the costs may add up fast. In many cases, health insurance plans may cover most of the expenses associated with mental health concerns. However, rising co-pay and prescription costs mean you may have to pay a small fee out of pocket.  

If you have insurance, it may be challenging to take advantage of free online counseling services. Many facilities will limit you to paying the total price out-of-pocket or using your insurance for treatment. In some cases, insurance may not cover all costs of mental health care. 

Even discounted out-of-pocket payments may become expensive. Most therapists treat patients over multiple visits, and there could be co-pays and fees for each appointment. 

Free and low-cost payment plans may exist to help individuals who need financial assistance, but there are often income requirements and application processes. Even a low-cost payment plan is too much of a financial burden for some individuals.

However, this does not mean someone lacking funds must go without treatment. If you need free counseling services, there are resources to consider. 

What To Do If Insurance Doesn't Cover Counseling 

Social Services

Social service departments may direct you to free services or low-cost community resources for mental health. They may also be able to qualify you for Medicaid or similar affordable healthcare. In some states, Medicaid or government healthcare plans will cover the entire cost of a counseling visit with a counselor who accepts your insurance plan. 

Social services may also be able to support the well-being of your entire family while you're taking care of your mental health. Getting support with other bills may free up funds for mental healthcare.


Non-Profit Organizations

Some organizations, such as the National Alliance on Mental Illness, aim to educate and support individuals experiencing mental health disorders. While these organizations may not provide therapy services like counseling, they can tell you about local mental health services that can support you that fit your financial needs. 

Non-profits can also answer basic questions about your mental health symptoms and treatment options at no cost. This affordability may save you from spending money on a therapist for the same diagnostic information.

Employee Assistance Plans

Many employers and corporate employers have employee assistance plans. Although they may not be used for long-term care, the professionals you speak with could be able to help you find continuing treatment options with a licensed therapist that fits your budget. 

A Primary Care Physician

Consider speaking with your primary healthcare provider about finding low-cost or free options for counseling services. They may be able to give you a list of recommendations. 

In some cases, your primary care doctor may be able to perform some of the duties that a therapist would perform so that you can save money on specialty healthcare fees. For example, some doctors may prescribe mental health medications or refer you to a specialist.

Getty/Vadym Pastukh
Psychologists Can Help You Strengthen Your Mental Health

A Place Of Worship

Many religious leaders will not have a degree in psychology. However, they may be skilled at helping individuals through struggles. Your religious leader or counselor cannot diagnose mental illnesses, but they may be able to listen, advise, and point you toward the tools you need. 

Additionally, various religious locations may have certified counselors on staff to provide low or no-cost therapeutic services to the local community. 

Psychology Students

Before psychologists treat patients independently, they often work under an experienced teacher through their educational institution. Therefore, colleges and universities near you may offer low or no-cost sessions with one of these students. They may also provide psychological testing or clinic opportunities for a low cost.

A treatment option through a university may not only help your wallet but also improve the skills of a future mental health professional.

Self-Help Books

There are many self-help books available. Books covering a wide range of mental health issues offer resources for many disorders. There may be endless approaches to understanding mental health in the self-help genre. 

You can read everything from accounts that describe an individual's journey with mental illness to books about changing thinking patterns and lifestyles. Therapy-based books written by actual therapists are also available and can walk you through basic treatment plans. 

Free Online Support

The internet has many websites that offer different forms of free online therapy options. However, some of these counseling services are more legitimate than others. Consider carefully researching a counselor's or psychologist's qualifications and the mental health resources delivered by free online counseling services before signing up.

Suppose you are comfortable receiving support with your concerns from someone less qualified. In that case, there are online support communities for mental health disorders where you can find friendship, resources, and encouragement that may lead to better mental health. 

Mental Health Blogs Offering Free Therapeutic Advice

You may be able to find mental health blogs with helpful information online. Consider researching the legitimacy of a writer before taking their advice. Helpful bloggers may: 

  • Update their website regularly
  • Interact with their followers
  • Give their readers resources that will help on their mental health journey

How To Get A Free Therapist Immediately 

At times, free or low-cost mental health clinics are overwhelmed with patients. If you're experiencing a mental health emergency, get immediate support. Mental health hotlines are staffed 24/7. 

If you cannot call for help, an online chat option is also available. You can also text 988 to speak to the Suicide Lifeline staff, who are available 24/7 within the US. 

Things To Remember 

If you decide to find a free therapist or a low-cost mental health professional through one of the resources above, consider the following tips. 

Treatment Is The Priority

Untreated mental health concerns may escalate into emergencies with little notice. Many mental health professionals offer discounts or sliding scale payment plans upon request if you cannot find free resources in your area. Counseling may be a long-term investment in your health.

Being Careful About "Free" Resources Online 

Not everyone online is who they say they are or has the expertise of a licensed therapist. While numerous reputable online therapy websites offer counseling without any cost, these sites may rely on volunteers who wish to help others. These individuals may or may not have legitimate training as a counselor.

Before you join an online community, spend some time browsing the content in the comments section or discussion forums. 

According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA), as many as two-thirds of those living with anxiety do not seek treatment. If you are struggling with anxiety or depression and cannot afford treatment, the ADAA has more resources that might help

Aside from those resources, one affordable option may be online therapy. This option may also help reduce the expense of traveling to and from an office for in-person therapy.

Do Not Be Afraid To Reach Out To A Therapist

Some people may seek a free therapist because they do not want their friends, family, employers, or community to know they're receiving treatment. Others are unable to commit to regular treatment financially. 

However, having a solid support network can be essential to recovering from or living with mental health concerns. Try not to fear involving those who care about you in your treatment. Your loved ones may want to help you financially if there's no other way to get treatment.

Affordable Online Therapy 

For convenient, affordable therapy, you may consider an online platform such as BetterHelp for individuals or Regain for couples. These platforms can connect you with a licensed therapist who will provide informed professional advice without needing health insurance. 

Online therapy is often much more affordable than traditional in-person counseling, sometimes by hundreds of dollars. Studies have found that online therapy is often just as effective as in-person therapy for treating various mental health conditions. 

The National Center for Health Research, for example, explored dozens of studies on the efficacy of online therapy. They found that online therapy is just as effective at treating depression, PTSD, and anxiety as traditional therapy, with efficacy continuing even after therapy ceases.


There are potential methods to find support regardless of why you seek free or low-cost counseling options. If you need immediate support, consider reaching out to a low-cost online counselor or one of the support options listed above. You are not alone.

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The information on this page is not intended to be a substitution for diagnosis, treatment, or informed professional advice. You should not take any action or avoid taking any action without consulting with a qualified mental health professional. For more information, please read our terms of use.
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