Can I Afford To See A Counselor? How Much Does Therapy Cost?

By Sarah Fader

Updated August 14, 2019

Reviewer Kimberly L Brownridge , LPC, NCC, BCPC Counsel The Mind, LLC

Is Online Therapy Affordable?

Paying for therapy or mental health services can be a major challenge for many people. Several mental health professionals provide therapy. And it can be difficult to choose which one to see. You may be used to the concept that traditional face-to-face is the only option. But there are many different types of mental health treatment and countless practitioners who provide therapy. Naturally, you're worried about paying for therapy. You may be considering whether or not to see an online therapist, and one of the factors is cost. You want to see a counselor, but can you afford it? It's is an understandable concern. And you may be surprised at the answer.

There are many different therapy practices, whether they are in-person or online. Whether you are using CBT, DBT or psychoanalysis (to name a few) each of these is a great way to help your wellbeing. With several different options available, online counseling is exceptionally affordable. Depending on the plan you choose and how many sessions you sign up for, there are ways to make it work for your budget. Our online counselors here at BetterHelp provide therapy that supports your wellness. We want to make online counseling affordable. Despite the type of therapy practice, each one helps you grow as a person. BetterHelp strives to make online counseling a pleasant and affordable experience. The costs range from $35 to $50 per session and are billed monthly. In comparison, going to see a counselor in-person costs an average of $75-$150 per session. You can browse the therapists profiles and find one who works for your needs. Once you've selected the online counselor for your needs, it's up to them to determine if you're a client they can service.

Therapists choose the clients they service, depending on their needs.

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It's important to note the costs listed above are averages based on many different counselors and their experience. There is no one definitive answer to, "How much does therapy cost?" We encourage you to access potential therapists' websites so you can see real-time rates. While this involves some time and effort, you will get the therapy you need at a price you can afford.

Therapists typically charge a sizable amount of money per session in a private practice. Generally speaking, it's difficult to find traditional or face-to-face therapy that is as affordable as the online therapists at BetterHelp. You can get therapy at a reduced price by choosing online therapy. If you don't have insurance, you face an added challenge. You may have to go to a low-cost clinic or get on a waitlist to see a therapist. It's not easy. Online therapy is a great alternative, and it's convenient-you can benefit from the tools and guidance of a professional without leaving the comfort of your home.

Getting Help Can Be Affordable and Convenient

You may be afraid of going to therapy, and not know where to find health resources to locate a provider. One of the issues with finding a therapist is locating one who takes your insurance. Many providers don't take insurance and claim that they accept out-of-network benefits, and you can get reimbursed after paying upfront. That's not an ideal situation for many people who can't afford over $150 per therapy session. It's not always feasible to pay an upfront fee and wait for the reimbursement. Not everyone has that luxury. Getting help for your mental health shouldn't be an added stressor. You want therapy to be a pleasant experience rather than one that makes you feel more anxious. Online therapy is an excellent option for people who care about their mental health and want to preserve their budget. This article will cover reasons behind why counselors charge different prices for their mental health services. We'll look at various health resources to support you on your journey to mental wellness.

Therapists Charge Different Amounts

The search to find a therapist can be challenging. There are many factors involved including the cost of therapy. You may not realize it, but counseling can be pricey. The cost for traditional face-to-face therapy varies. There is no specific fee that therapists are required to charge. How much a session costs depends on a variety of factors including the type of credentials the therapist has and the cost of running their office. The best way to find out how much therapy will cost you is to ask the provider. Depending on where you live, sessions can range from $50 to $250 per session. It could cost more or less depending on the type of treatment you're receiving and if the therapist is in a private practice or a part of a low cost clinic. Insurance companies cover different types of therapy. Some plans have higher deductibles than others. Remember, when it comes to health insurance companies, it's best to ask your provider what mental health coverage they offer and don't make assumptions. Different types of therapy, the location where treatment is taking place, and insurance coverage can all affect the cost of therapy. It's crucial to do your research and find out what type of therapy is right for you. Then you can call clinics and inquire online about the cost per session. The insurance company will be candid about your behavioral health coverage. When you call to ask about your plan, make sure you are as specific as possible An insurance company can provide you with the most accurate information if you give them a list of what your therapeutic needs are.

Treatment Length - Cost

Every mental health counselor is different. Depending on the type of therapy you choose, it will determine the length of the treatment. One mental health counselor many see a patient for three months and another will see their client for years. Another factor is if a person has mental illness or a chronic mental health condition. Some types of conditionsThe length of counseling services has a huge impact on how much you will spend. People go to therapy to treat particular mental health issues. Some of those concerns are chronic, such as bipolar disorder or depression. Others see a therapist to deal with a life challenge such as the death of a loved one. There are varying amounts of time you could see a therapist for, depending on the reason you're seeking treatment. Additionally, you can choose to continue therapy even when the primary issue you're there for is manageable. You might decide to keep going to therapy because it adds value to your life. If that's the case, remember to factor the cost for therapy into your budget.

Keep in mind that some practices might have a maximum number of sessions that you can have in a week, month or year. These time limits impact the cost of therapy. You could be seeing a psychoanalyst.

Types of Therapy

The type of therapist you need will vary depending on what you are hoping to get from your therapy session. This also can affect the cost of therapy per session. Remember that all therapists need to be licensed and have liability insurance. Here are some types of therapists and what they specialize in:

  • Group therapists: Group therapists see a collective of people who benefit from learning from one another. The therapist serves as a leader, and facilitates a discussion. The group talks through their issues with one another while the group therapist monitors the conversation. The therapist uses their knowledge to insert themselves in the conversation when necessary. The cost for group therapy varies, but it's typically much lower than individual therapy.
  • Support groups: here's a great way for people to come together who have had similar experiences or challenges, be empathetic and provide guidance to each other. Support groups give people with similar life challenges the opportunity to provide insight for individuals who are going through what they experienced. They differ from a group therapist setting in that they allow others, not only the person leading the group, to actively help. Support groups allow people to speak up and create a non-judgmental environment. They can have a positive impact on a person, and reduce their stress levels. These groups are usually free or a low-cost alternative to traditional therapy, since they can be run by your peers.
  • Couples therapists: Couples therapy or marriage counseling helps those in a relationship resolve interpersonal conflict and can profoundly improve relationships. These therapy sessions typically happen with both parties present, however they can be continued individually or even a combination of both. Any couple can benefit for therapy. Your relationship doesn't have to be in jeopardy to seek mental health treatment. Couples therapy can help you and your partner achieve a deeper understanding of one another. The cost for couples' therapy can vary from $50 to $250 per hour.
  • Therapists for children: A children's therapist treats youth who are 17 years or younger for mental health issues. They practice therapy that's specific to the child's age group and centered around particular issues that may arise during this developmental time. Pricing for this type of counseling varies, however it ranges from $45 to $200 (in New York) for one-hour sessions.
  • Psychologists: Psychologists work to understand behavior and how your environment and how you interact with your surroundings. This study of behavior can help to identify why you have reactions and emotions to the things around you and the place that you currently are in. Most psychologists will charge around $75 to $175 per hour, but this can also depend on location.


Your therapist's education and credentials

Maintaining a license to practice therapy requires a lot of additional training. For example, the industry standard for supervised hours if you are an LMFT is 3000 supervised hours in the state of California. It's not a bad idea to consult someone in the mental health field for professional advice when seeking a therapist. Maybe a friend or loved one know about therapy or works in the area. They can help you determine what kind of things to look for in a therapist. When you consult with a potential therapist, you can ask them about their education and background. Many mental health providers invest in continuing education to keep up to date on their knowledge of the field. When you consult with an online counselor, you're welcome to ask about their degree and what continuing education coursework they've completed. Some academic courses count toward experience hours, which many therapists have to achieve as a part of their certification. A therapist can tell you about their internship and how many supervised hours they've completed.

The Type of Therapy You Choose Determines The Cost

It's rare to find therapy that's free of charge. Free therapy is hard to find, and usually only exists as a trial offer. A person who gets mental health care for free is lucky. In the United States the majority of people have to pay for counseling. Free therapy is like finding a needle in a haystack. Most counseling sessions will cost something unless you have medicaid or state funded insurance. Finding counseling that's low cost or free of charge is hard. However, there are companies that provide free or discounted therapy one time, and then you will have to pay for sessions moving forward. Another factor to consider is the number of sessions you are going to use throughout the year. Not only does the type of therapy you need affect the cost, but the amount of sessions is something to consider as well. For example, if you are in couples' therapy and are having therapy sessions with your partner but choose to have sessions without them as well, it can add up the cost of therapy for you and your partner. The circumstances make a difference, and you should make sure that you know how much the therapy you need, costs. Remember that therapists don't get paid unless you or the insurance company is compensating them for their services. You're either paying them upfront and out of your pocket, or the insurance company is compensating them. There is also something called an Employee Assistance Plan, where a worker can ask for a limited amount of therapy sessions based upon a crisis situation or a need for therapy that is time-limited. Employers want their workers to be well.

Therapy for Students/Teens

The price tag for therapy can be high. Most teenagers don't have the access to finances required for continuing therapy. If you're a teenager looking for therapy, it would be beneficial to talk to your school counselor to see if there are any services that they can offer you for free or at a low-cost, and it's similar for those who are entering college. It's worth finding out if your campus health services offer support for mental health. If they don't have counseling at the health center, they may be able to find the care that you need and can afford.

Remember that not every therapist is right for each person. It takes time to find the right clinic or therapist for you. Your mental health is worth the search.

Sliding Scale Therapy

There is no set industry standard for sliding scale therapy. What that means is that therapists can give sessions for as little or as much as the client can afford. In many private practice settings, therapists can decide their rate for therapy. It's common for insurance to avoid covering or refunding costs for therapy. Some therapists will let a client have a sliding scale fee, which means that they give you discounted sessions based upon your income.

Getting insurance for therapy is possible, but sometimes there are limitations on the coverage. There may be a limit to how many sessions your insurance will cover. Mental health care in the United States varies from state to state, and can depend on the kind of insurance you have. If you have access to health insurance, you're extremely lucky. You can get a therapist who will care for your behavioral health. Mental health care matters, so you can take care of your overall well being. When you start to look for a therapist remember that there are many different types of therapy out there. It's important to remember that not every kind of mental health treatment is right for each person. It's a blessing knowing that there are different types of therapy so you can get the sort of counseling you need. When you have health insurance, it can be easier to get therapy then if you don't have coverage. Insurance that covers behavioral therapeutic services is extremely valuable. Some people have health insurance through their employer, others pay for it out of pocket if they are a small business owner, while others are insured through the government. Some therapists offer sliding scale fees, which may help with being able to afford therapy. Insurance billing can be complex when dealing with co-payments or deductibles, however therapists are used to dealing with insurance companies and know the ins and outs of it from a provider standpoint. There are low cost services available for therapy, including sliding scale, and it's worthwhile investigating these options. Call a therapist to get a sense of the cost.

Therapists don't get paid by the government, unless the client has medicaid or medicare. Then the state is compensating the counselor or therapist for their work. The amount you pay is based on your income and number of dependents. Sliding scale therapy isn't for people whose insurance covers at least a part of the cost. Instead, it's for those who don't have insurance or whose insurance doesn't cover the therapy needed.

Typically, when a therapist charges a fee, it's determined based on numerous factors. With sliding scale fees, you might pay a different amount for the therapy you receive than someone else who goes to the same therapist but has a higher income. Sliding scale is beneficial for patients with a low income. They can get the help that they need, and not have to worry about affording therapy. If you are looking for a therapist or a counselor that offers this type of fee structure, it may be best to speak to them before your first therapy session to work out a cost that is right for you.

Flexible Scheduling

Inform the therapists you're wondering how often you'll need to come in for a session. If money is a problem for you, flexible scheduling might be the right solution. Therapists don't get paid if you don't show up, unless there's a cancellation policy. Then you may need to pay for a missed session.The therapist may agree to see you once every other week, instead of every week. They might offer half-sessions so you can touch base for a short time and let them know what's going on with you emotionally. Therapists can also offer you a set number of sessions for a set fee and then re-evaluate the number of sessions needed again to help with therapy costs.

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If a therapist is unwilling to work with your schedule or budget, it might be worth considering looking for another clinic or counselor. Therapy sessions are your time to work through your mental health issues. You shouldn't have to worry about whether or not you can make it on time or afford the session. Be upfront with a potential therapist so you can save time and money. You deserve to get mental health care regardless of your financial status.

Where You Live Matters

The availability of mental health care depends on where you reside. Therapy can cost more or less depending on your geographical location. For example you may find that counselors in the Midwest charge less for their services than those on the east or west coast. It can also make a difference whether you live in a rural community or a large city. Counselors and therapists in remote areas typically charge less to accommodate patients with lower incomes because therapy needs to stay affordable for their patients. Online therapists may have lower costs of doing business, which can impact their fees considerably, making counseling affordable to many more people. Online therapists can help more people and be readily available at hours that traditional therapy sessions might not be around to provide counseling, which offers a huge benefit to both the therapist and the patient.

Community Mental Health Clinics and Private Practice

Mental health care is divided into A therapist in a private practice nearly always charges more for sessions than community mental health clinics. Some clinics are only open to many people with low incomes, so their fees are lower as well. Find out by contacting the clinic to find out if they do charge less, and what your therapy costs will be.


Reasons to Prioritize Therapy

Mental health care matters because your wellbeing is important. When you need therapy, the cost may not be as important as starting sessions right away. Without the help you need, your mental health can deteriorate rapidly. Choosing to talk to a therapist, on the other hand, can help you feel, think, and behave in healthier, adaptive ways. Putting therapy as a top priority can help you take charge of your mental health. Prioritize your mental health and make sure you have the support that you need.

Many people choose to put a high priority on therapy. Through counseling, you can learn to cope with work issues, communicate more effectively, and improve your self-esteem. You will notice that you're more successful in your career. If your focus is on creating a happier and more peaceful relationship, your home life may become more enjoyable. Also, if you deal with a mental health issue before it becomes severe, you can avoid the cost of hospitalization and downtime at work. For example, if you are struggling with work, it might bleed into other areas in your life and affect your relationships or your physical health as well. Your mind is worth investing in, when it can help you in so many different ways in your life. The happier you are, the happier your life can be and you will slowly start to see things change for the better.

Budgeting for Therapy

Anyone can choose to improve their mental health through therapy. If you don't qualify for sliding scale therapy or therapy at a community mental health agency, chances are you can squeeze enough money from your budget to take this important step. Sit down and go over your budget for anything you can cut to make room for it. Remember that if you are having a short-term or situational problem, this will be a temporary item in your budget.

You should also consider that therapy might be worth continuing after the reason you started services is resolved. It can be nice to have continued support with someone who understands what you have been through; and this should be worth considering when budgeting for counseling services (ongoing or not).

Practical Considerations

When you see a therapist in your local community, you also have to cover the costs of going to therapy. For example, there is a cost for transportation. If your counselor or therapist is far from your home, you may also have to eat away from home. You may have to miss work, which typically adds up to at least two hours' pay if you work by the hour.

However, with online therapy, you bypass these costs. You can have a session with your therapist wherever you are, as long as you have an Internet connection - even in your own home, thus eliminating the transportation costs. You can schedule therapy sessions at a time that's convenient for you and doesn't cause you to take any time away from work. This might not just save you money, but also save you time, for which there is no dollar value. It can also be beneficial to be in contact with your therapist or your counselor whenever you desire. You have the convenience factor of reaching out when you need to reach out, instead of a dedicated time per week. The amount you pay for the sessions is the cost of getting therapy only if you choose an online platform such as Better Help.

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