Dr. Jacob Santhouse
4 Places to Find Affordable Therapy
Finding affordable therapy is really all about knowing where to look.
One of the most common barriers to getting counseling is the cost. Let's face it, counseling is not particularly cheap, and that can make even the idea of pursuing it daunting. The truth is that if you know where to look, therapy doesn't have to break the bank.
So when you are in search of cost-effective therapy, where can you look?
Private Practices with Sliding Scales
Most therapists who run private practices reserve some slots in their schedules to offer lower-cost services. If you are in financial need (i.e., not spending $6 a day on Starbucks) and you are willing to put effort into looking, you can likely find a therapist you can afford. This option would probably take the most effort to find a therapist who has availability and is a good fit for you and what you're working through – but the result is worth the effort. Of the four options listed here, I would recommend this as the first option.
Community counseling centers
In many urban areas, you will find community counseling centers and even food banks that offer low or no-cost counseling services to their communities. This option tends to be a hit or miss in terms of whether or not they have any immediate availability to work with you. Community counseling centers are known for being highly booked, and as a result, you may have to spend some time on a waitlist.
College/University counseling centers
Graduate schools that train mental health professionals pretty much all have a training counseling center that serves their local community. These centers are staffed by master's level counseling interns supervised by fully licensed clinicians. They typically offer services ranging from free to low fee rates per session. This option will likely get you on the schedule reasonably quickly (assuming it isn't the end of the academic year); however, this may not be the best option if you hope to work with the same therapist for an extended period. The interns who staff these centers are typically only there for a year before graduating and moving on.
I am hesitant to mention these platforms as options because, in reality, they are not great for mental health professionals – but they can still benefit people. Not only that, there are more and more online platforms like Talkspace and BetterHelp popping up every day. These platforms typically offer moderately cost-effective services, but their most significant offering is convenience. Signing up and connecting with a therapist through most of these platforms is straightforward. The biggest downside is that these platforms don't have a great track record of caring for the clinicians who work for them, resulting in burnout and leaving the profession.
An honorable mention that didn't make the above list is that most health insurance plans offer mental health coverage. If you have health insurance, I recommend looking into the coverage available through your insurance plan. Not everyone has access to this option, but if you do, it is worth looking into.
Do your best not to let cost be the reason you don't get the counseling you deserve. There are cost-effective ways to get quality mental health therapy out there – you just need to know where to look to find them.