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

By Joy Youell|Updated August 2, 2022
CheckedMedically Reviewed By Erika Schad, LCP, CWLC


When you're experiencing a mental health condition or distress of any kind, it's important to seek the help of a qualified mental health professional. When it comes to your mental health needs, a counselor or therapist can provide insight, guidance, and emotional 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 free counseling options.

Psychologists Can Help You Strengthen Your Mental Health.

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

Free Counseling? 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 concerns. 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 counseling 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 counseling services, there are resources you should consider.

Where To Get Free Counseling And 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 experiencing mental health disorders. While these organizations typically do not provide therapy services like counseling, they can tell you about local support that fits your financial needs. Nonprofits can also answer basic questions about your mental health 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.

Employee Assistance Plans

Many employers, especially corporate employers, have 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 these 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 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 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 PhD in psychology, but they will likely be skilled at helping people through struggles. Your priest or rabbi will not be able to diagnose mental illnesses, 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.

Psychologists Can Help You Strengthen Your Mental Health.

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 different forms of free online therapy options. However, some of these counseling services are more legitimate than others, so be sure to carefully research the counselor’s or psychologist's qualifications and the mental health resources delivered by a free online therapy service before signing up. If you are okay with receiving support with your concerns from someone less qualified, there are numerous free online support communities for mental health disorders where you can find friendship, resources, counseling, and encouragement that can lead to better mental health. 7 cups of tea, for example, is a great free online platform that will connect you to compassionate listeners who are ready to offer emotional support.

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 concerns. 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. Immediate assistance is available for free at 1-800-273-8255, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. If you're unable to call for help, an online chat option is available, too. If you or someone you know is experiencing abuse or may be in danger of experiencing abuse, reach out for help through the National Domestic Violence Hotline. The hotline can be reached at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) and is available 24/7. If you are living with a substance abuse disorder, consider reaching out to a drug dependency hope line. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration offers a helpline that’s available 24/7 at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).

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 licensed therapist. While there are numerous reputable online therapy 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, as you may be in danger of fraud through certain sites.

If you are struggling to access affordable treatment, know that you are not alone. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA), as many as two-thirds of those living with anxiety do not seek treatment. The cost of therapy, for many, is the main barrier to access. 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 may also help cut down on the expense of traveling to and from an office for in-person therapy.

Help With BetterHelp

If you're looking for convenient, affordable therapy, BetterHelp is an online therapy platform that can connect you with a licensed therapist who will provide informed professional advice. BetterHelp makes mental health care accessible, allowing you to participate in online therapy sessions from the comfort of your own home. When you sign up, you'll be matched with a licensed mental health professional who can give you the help you need. Your qualified mental health professional will be matched with you from a team of licensed professional counselors, licensed clinical social workers, licensed marriage and family therapists, and psychologists. 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 likely want to help you financially if there's no other way for you to get treatment.


Some people may seek free online therapy services 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 likely want to help you financially if there's no other way for you to get treatment.

Many people ask the following questions about similar services:

How much does BetterHelp actually cost?

Many people who are looking for online therapy with a qualified mental health professional through BetterHelp wonder how much it’s going to cost, even asking, “Is BetterHelp free?” While BetterHelp is not free therapy, the platform does offer affordable therapy, particularly when compared to traditional counseling. With BetterHelp, online therapy costs $60 to $90 per week (billed every 4 weeks). Online counseling with BetterHelp gives you access to helpful mental health resources and the informed professional advice of licensed therapists.

How much does BetterHelp charge per month?

Even though BetterHelp is not free online therapy, it is an affordable option for online therapy. Online therapy memberships through BetterHelp cost between $60 and $90 per week (billed every 4 weeks). Given that therapy costs an average of $100 to $200 per session, online therapy through BetterHelp is an affordable option.

Is BetterHelp worth using?

BetterHelp is a versatile affordable platform that provides online therapy services, including access to a licensed therapist and helpful mental health resources delivered straight to your phone, laptop, or other device. Unlike with in-person therapy, you can participate in online therapy sessions virtually: phone calls, messages, live chat, and video sessions. BetterHelp makes mental health care easy to access, allowing you to receive informed professional advice and support with your concerns from the comfort of your home.

In addition to participating in online therapy sessions, you can also explore BetterHelp’s extensive archive of informational and self-help articles. You can look for the top categories related articles are separated into and, if you find a topic you’re interested in, read a previous article about the subject. If you click on one of the top categories, related articles will show up, and you can browse until you find a more or less previous article that you think will help.

While BetterHelp is not free online therapy, it can be well worth the membership cost.

Is BetterHelp counseling legit?

Online therapy through BetterHelp provides access to licensed mental health professionals whose credentials have been thoroughly vetted. In addition, online therapy with BetterHelp is secure and private, with state-of-the-art technology and infrastructure that protects client information. As the largest online therapy platform, BetterHelp has developed a reputation for providing legitimate counseling services at a reasonable cost.

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