Can I Afford Therapy?
The short answer to the question, “Can I afford therapy?” is yes, you probably can. This is a common question among people new to therapy services. There is a common misconception that therapy is exorbitantly expensive.
People likely perceive therapeutic services as being expensive because of its relation to healthcare in general. Mental Health Therapy Sessions and other diagnostic and treatment services are typically reimbursable or covered by healthcare insurance plans. So, they are lumped in with other medical services and, therefore, are typically perceived as just as unaffordable as other healthcare costs.
While Mental Health services are not always cheap, they are typically a flat cost. When compared to other healthcare services, such as a visit to your primary care physician, Therapy does not have other costs that build on top of the appointment itself, such as labs, x-rays, medication, etc. Because of this, what you are quoted by your therapist for a session rate is typically exactly what you can expect to be billed for.
Covered by Insurance
As mentioned before, Mental Health Therapy services are typically reimbursed by healthcare insurance plans. This means that if you start to see a therapist, your insurance may pay for a portion, or even all, of the costs if the therapist is in network with, or bills, your insurance. If you are seeing a therapist, such as myself, that accepts only private pay, you may be able to send your bill and proof of payment to your healthcare insurance provider and receive reimbursement for some or all of the costs of services.
Some therapists, such as myself, also have what we call “Sliding-Scale Fee” spots available. These tend to vary from therapist to therapist, but it is essentially a way for a therapist to charge a lower session rate to those in financial need. If you have extenuating circumstances and are need of mental health services, please do not let finances serve as a barrier to getting help. Contact the therapist you are interested in seeing and ask if there are sliding fee spots or discounted rates available.
Making Other Arrangements
Some people are surprised at just how affordable working with a therapist can be. Even if you pay out of pocket for the full costs of sessions, a therapist can work with you on how often those sessions occur, and how long they need to continue. Some therapist offer block-scheduling or bundling options where you can pay for a block of multiple sessions all at once, ahead of time, at a lower rate.
Cost of NOT Getting Help
One other aspect of weighing the cost of therapy is considering the cost of not seeking help. If you're dealing with significant difficulties that are impacting your relationships, work, quality of life, school, or other things, it may be worth the short term costs of seeking help with those problems. It may make more sense to pay for several sessions with a therapist now, rather than damage relationships, lose a job, or worse in the long-run.
So if you’re interested in working with a therapist, don’t let costs stand in your way. You can probably afford the sessions. I would encourage you to call the therapist and explain the situation and see what kind of arrangement can be made, or options you have, so you can access the help you need.