Is A Free Psychologist A Real Thing? (And Where to Find Free Therapy Online)

By Joy Youell

Updated March 16, 2020

Reviewer Erika Schad, LCP, CWLC

Introduction

When you're suffering from a mental health condition or distress of any kind, it's important to seek the help of a qualified professional. A counselor or therapist can provide insight, guidance, and support. However, the cost of this support can sometimes be prohibitive. If you're in need and you're concerned about the cost, know that it's sometimes possible to find a free psychologist.

Wondering Where You Can Find A Free Psychologist?
We're Here To Help - Click To Get Started With A Free One-Week Trial.

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There are many reasons why someone would want to find a free therapist. Free and low-cost therapy options are available, but it may take time and creativity to find them. Even if you cannot find a free psychologist to treat you, there are still many free or low-cost mental health resources that you can use. Here's what you need to know about finding a free therapist and other mental health resources.

Free Psychology? If You Have Insurance

If you need mental health treatment, the costs can add up fast. With any luck, a robust health insurance plan should cover most of the expenses associated with mental health conditions. However, rising copay and prescription costs mean that you'll likely have to pay something out of pocket. Plus, if you have some kind of insurance, it may be difficult to take advantage of free services. Most facilities will limit you to either paying full price out-of-pocket or using your insurance for treatment, and insurance might not cover everything.

If Your Insurance Plan Does Not Cover Mental Health Services

Even discounted out-of-pocket payments may become expensive. Most therapists treat patients over multiple visits, and there are usually copays and fees for each appointment. Free and low-cost payment plans are typically used to help individuals who need financial assistance, but there are often income requirements and application processes. For some individuals, even a low-cost payment plan is too much of a financial burden, but this does not mean that someone who lacks funds must go without treatment. If you need free mental health services, there are resources you should consider.

Where to Get Free Psychological Help

Social Services

Social service departments can direct you to free or low-cost community resources for mental health. They may also be able to qualify you for Medicaid or similar affordable healthcare. As an added bonus, social services can support the wellbeing of your entire family while you're taking care of your mental health. Your local social services department will have resources to help with a variety of issues, including substance abuse, paying for groceries and utilities, caring for children or elderly family members, and finding employment. Getting support with other bills may free up funds for mental healthcare.

Nonprofit Organizations

Some organizations, such as the National Alliance on Mental Illness, make it their goal to educate and support individuals suffering from mental health disorders. While these organizations typically do not provide psychotherapy services like counseling, they can tell you about local support that fits your financial needs. Nonprofits can also answer basic questions about your symptoms and treatment options at no cost to you. This saves you from having to spend money on a therapist for the same diagnostic information.


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Employee Assistance Plans

Many employers, especially corporate employers, have something called Employee Assistance Plans. This benefit covers many different services and may include free access to a mental health expert, usually for a short-term mental health problem or an emergency situation. Although it's not typically used for long-term care, the professionals you speak with may be able to help you find continuing treatment options that fit your budget. It's also important to know that Employee Assistance Plans are confidential, which means your boss, your HR representative, and your coworkers will never know that you sought assistance.

A Primary Care Physician

When in doubt, speak with your primary healthcare provider about finding a free or low-cost therapist. 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 you can save money on specialty healthcare fees. If you do not have health insurance or a primary care provider, free clinics or community health centers can give you access to a physician for basic mental health services.

The Local Church

Most clergy members will not have a Ph.D. in Psychology, but they're skilled at helping people through struggles. Your priest or rabbi will not be able to diagnose a mental health condition, but they can listen, advise, and point you toward the tools you need. Additionally, various churches have certified counselors on staff to provide low or no-cost therapeutic services to church members and the local community. Some churches are also able to offer financial assistance to those with high medical expenses, and others have even begun to provide their members with low-cost health insurance sharing plans.

Wondering Where You Can Find A Free Psychologist?
We're Here To Help - Click To Get Started With A Free One-Week Trial.

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Local Students

Before a psychologist treats patients on their own, they have to work under an experienced teacher through their educational institution. Therefore, colleges and universities near you may offer free clinics or low or no-cost sessions with one of these students. This free treatment option not only helps your wallet, but it also improves the skills of a future mental health professional.

Self-Help Books

There is no shortage of self-help literature. Books that cover a wide range of mental health issues are available and offer resources for many types of disorders. In fact, there are endless approaches to understanding mental health in the self-help genre. You can read about 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. Purchasing multiple books may be costly, but if you have access to a local library, you may not have to spend a penny.

Online Support

The internet has many websites that offer a form of free counseling. However, some of these resources are more legitimate than others, so be sure to carefully research the counselor or psychologist's qualifications before signing up. If you are okay with receiving support from someone less qualified, there are numerous online support communities for mental health disorders where you can find friendship, resources, counseling, and encouragement. 7 cups of tea, for example, is a great platform that will connect you to compassionate listeners who are ready to offer (completely free) emotional support.


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Mental Health Bloggers

Many psychologists, therapists, and mental health experts have started using the internet to share their thoughts and expertise. It's important to research the legitimacy of the writer, but a blogger worth following will usually:

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

As you can see, there are many ways to get free help with mental health issues. Finding creative ways to get the help you need may be the first step toward feeling better.

How to Get a Free Therapist Right Now

Sometimes free or low-cost mental health clinics are overwhelmed with patients. Do not let this deter you from seeking treatment. If you're experiencing a mental health emergency, get immediate help. Suicide prevention and mental health hotlines are staffed 24/7 and will not charge you for immediate assistance. If you're unable to call for help, an online chat option is available, too.

Things to Keep in Mind

If you decide to find a free therapist or a low-cost mental health professional through one of the resources above, there are a few things you should keep in mind.

Treatment Is A Priority

Untreated mental health disorders can escalate into emergency situations with little notice. Do not put off getting treatment if you cannot immediately find free resources in your area. Most mental health professionals offer discounts or sliding scale payment plans upon request. Although it may require strict budgeting, saving toward counseling is a long-term investment in your health.

Be Careful Online

Not everyone online is who they say they are or has the expertise of a credentialed therapist. While there are numerous reputable websites that offer free counseling, remember that these sites typically 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. Make sure it's an active and positive environment, and always stay far away from websites that request your personal information, especially your social security number or banking details.

Help With BetterHelp

If you're looking for a convenient, affordable option, BetterHelp can connect you with a licensed therapist who provides therapy online, so you can meet with them from the comfort of your own home. When you sign up, you'll be matched with a counselor who can give you the help you need. Read below for some reviews of BetterHelp counselors who have worked with people in similar situations.

Counselor Reviews

"I was in a very bad place when I started counseling with Vanessa. I was drowning in my negative thoughts, especially about moving into a new place. Vanessa helped me face these thoughts, counter them. It isn't easy, but I am training myself and getting better at it. She helps boost my confidence in all aspects. In Vanessa, I found guidance, empathy, open-mindedness and a good listener. Vanessa will never fail you!"

"Kathleen is a great source of support. When I went through a particularly rough ordeal she set some extra time aside to respond to me and take my phone call. She continues to help me make important strides and never makes me feel guilty if I go through down periods in my mental health. She's really been so helpful and is one of the reasons why I recommend better help to friends when they're looking for flexible/affordable therapy."

Do Not Be Afraid to Reach Out

Some people may seek a free therapist because they do not want their friends, family members, employers, or community to know they're receiving treatment. Others are unable to financially commit to regular treatment and don't want to ask loved ones to help them pay for it. However, having a strong support network is an important part of recovering from or living with mental health disorders. Do not be afraid to involve people who care about you in your struggle; your loved ones will most likely want to help you financially if there's no other way for you to get treatment.

In the meantime, there are resources available to support you with your mental health issues, and you can get creative about meeting your needs. BetterHelp offers new members with immediate access to a one-week FREE TRIAL. During your free trial take advantage of free online therapy sessions with board-certified psychologist who can provide therapeutic advice. Getting started with your free trial of online therapy is easy. Register for your free therapy account on the BetterHelp therapy platform using your valid email address. You and your therapist will use your email address to communicate about therapy appointments, notes, and sharing files. Once you've registered for your therapy account, you'll have immediate access to the full range of therapy services available on the platform. Be sure to take full advantage of your 7-day therapy session by taking part in free sessions with a board-certified therapist online. If you're ready to get started working with a BetterHelp counselor, take advantage of your one-week FREE TRIAL today.

FAQs

Can I talk to a psychologist online for free?

If you want to speak to a qualified psychologist, it can be difficult to find one to speak to completely free, especially online. While you can talk to anyone online and receive advice, if you want to speak to a licensed psychologist online, it's going to cost you. Some therapy websites to have a free trial. Most insurance doesn't cover online therapy, but double-check and see if it does.

Is seeing a psychologist covered by Medicare?

Medicare Part B covers seeing a psychologist. This form of Medicare centers around mental health, or any services that you visit outside of a hospital. Besides seeing a therapist or psychologist, these can include some forms of partial hospitalization and helping to manage your medication. Always check your Medicare plan if you want to double-check your plan and make sure everything is covered before beginning.

How much is a psychologist visit without insurance?

One of the more frustrating parts of healthcare in America is not knowing how much you're going to pay if you don't have insurance. How much you need to pay can depend on what therapist or psychologist you're seeing, where you live, and other factors. Per hour session, the national average is about $90, but it could be less or more. Always talk to your therapist to see how much you're expected to pay.

Is 7 Cups of Tea free?

7 Cups of Tea, also known simply as 7 Cups, is a therapy and online community website. It gets its name from 9th century poet Lu Tong, who wrote a poem about the meditative effects tea has. If you want to speak to the online community and its chat rooms, it's free. Speaking to a licensed therapist from 7 Cups is going to costs you, with the fee being around $150 a month, which is quite good if you're using it a lot.

Does Talkspace cost money?

You can expect to pay money when you choose Talkspace. The benefit of Talkspace is that it has many plans to choose from. You can view its website for more information, but in summary, here is what you are expected to pay from it:

  • Basic unlimited messaging. You can send video, text, or voice messages to your therapist, and the therapist will respond to them daily, 5 days a week. This plan is $65 every week, and is billed monthly.
  • Premium unlimited messaging. This plan costs $79 a week. What warrants the extra $14? You get one free session every month with your therapist. No having to wait for a response. Many people like sending messages, but some people may prefer a one-on-one conversation as well.
  • The ultimate therapy plan. This goes for $99 weekly. While it's pricey, you get four live sessions every month, plus the unlimited messaging.
  • Couples therapy. This is $99 weekly, and you can choose a 3-month plan for $89.

Talkspace is one of the more expensive services out there, but it's high quality and may be worth it if you or someone you know needs help.

How much does BetterHelp cost?

The price of BetterHelp, just like any other online therapy service, is weekly and can range from $40-$70.

Do you need a doctor's referral to see a psychologist?

In most cases, you won't need a doctor's referral. You can contact the psychologist's office and go from there. However, a referral from a doctor could help your visit be covered by insurance, and your doctor could recommend you a psychologist who is right for you.

With that said, you will need a referral if you are seeing a psychiatrist. Make sure you have one ready.

When should you consult a psychologist?

There are many situations where seeking the help from a psychologist may benefit you. Here are a few reasons why you may want to talk to a psychologist.

  • You feel beyond stressed and anxious. Occasional stress is a part of life, and can be good for you, but too much can lead to a miserable, unproductive life. A psychologist may help you with your ability to manage stress.
  • You cannot move on from your loss. While everyone is going to have a family member or friend die, and you are not going to "get over" it, if you're depressed, don't know how to cope, and don't know how to move on, you may need the help of a psychologist.
  • You're suffering from chronic depression. Experiencing sadness, even for no good reason, is a part of life, but many people who are depressed can end up in a cycle that's tough to break.
  • You have an addiction. Whether to smoking, drinking, hard drugs, or a unique addiction, a psychologist can help you. There is no shame in admitting you're addicted, and seeking help is a smart move. A psychologist may be able to help you by giving ways to overcome your addiction, such as cognitive behavioral therapy or mindfulness.
  • You have irrational phobias. Everyone fears something, but some phobias can hold you back in life. For example, if you want to travel, but fear flying, that can be a challenge. Some phobias can be outright dangerous, such as if you fear drinking water. A psychologist can get to the bottom of year fear, gradually expose you to your fear, or teach you ways to cope.
  • You're dealing with relationship issues. Whether it's your friends, family, spouse or someone else, this can be a challenge, especially if you feel like the other person isn't listening. A psychologist can teach you how to communicate with people better, and they can work as a group. If you're having arguments with your spouse, a psychologist can help you find common ground.
  • You want to improve your mental health. Whether you want to improve your performance, your clarity, or anything else, a psychologist can help.
  • You have any other mental disorder that you need treated.

Conclusion

Some people may seek a free therapist because they do not want their friends, family members, employers, or community to know they're receiving treatment. Others are unable to financially commit to regular treatment and don't want to ask loved ones to help them pay for it. However, having a strong support network is an important part of recovering from or living with mental health disorders. Do not be afraid to involve people who care about you in your struggle; your loved ones will most likely want to help you financially if there's no other way for you to get treatment.

In the meantime, there are resources available to support you with your mental health issues, and you can get creative about meeting your needs. BetterHelp offers new members with immediate access to a one-week FREE TRIAL. During your free trial take advantage of free online therapy sessions with a board-certified psychologist who can provide therapeutic advice. Getting started with your free trial of online therapy is easy. Register for your free therapy account on the BetterHelp therapy platform using your valid email address. You and your therapist will use your email address to communicate about therapy appointments, notes, and sharing files. Once you've registered for your therapy account, you'll have immediate access to the full range of therapy services available on the platform. Be sure to take full advantage of your 7-day therapy session by taking part in free sessions with a board-certified therapist online. If you're ready to get started working with a BetterHelp counselor, take advantage of your one-week FREE TRIAL today.


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