How to afford therapy

How to afford therapy

When times are tight, dedicating money to something like therapy can seem like a luxury. But you are your most important resource, and therapy is an investment in yourself. While affordability is often the most frequent reason people give for not seeking mental health treatment, therapy can help you learn skills and coping mechanisms that you can use to nurture your mental health and wellbeing for the rest of your life. So how can we budget for therapy and get the mental health care we need?

How much does therapy cost?

Like any investment, therapy calls for a financial and emotional commitment. Practitioners who work with MyWellbeing offer therapy at rates between $80 to $300 per session and the average cost of a therapy session in NYC is $150 to $200 per session.

It’s easy to write therapy off as “too expensive,” but when we start to break down the hard costs, we’ll begin to see how we’ll be able to invest in ourselves.

How long will I be in therapy?

At a minimum, we suggest that you plan to be in therapy for 3 to 6 months, or at least 12 sessions, and many people will want to commit 6 months to a year. Some people engage in therapy for many years. Other people go to therapy, leave therapy, and return to therapy at different points all throughout their life. Not only does it take time to get the hang of new things, you will also want to give yourself and your therapist time to create a strong therapeutic bond.

What is your budget?

Do you know how much you spend on utilities per month? Food? Subscriptions? If you don’t know what you already spend versus what you earn, it can be hard to determine how much more you can spend on something like therapy.

How much can you spend on therapy?

Once you get a better idea of what you’re spending overall, you’ll be able to figure out how much you’re able to spend on therapy. If you realize you already have enough, that’s great. If there isn’t room in the budget right now, see what else you can do. Is there something you can cut out? Is there an amount you can begin to set aside every week? We know how much therapy costs and you have an idea of the time commitment you’d like to start out with, so see where there is room in the budget for this investment.

Taking care of your mental health is like preventative brain maintenance that can help keep issues from growing into more serious—and expensive—problems down the line. And research shows that alleviating psychological distress through psychological therapy could be at least 32 times more cost effective than financial compensation—that’s right, therapy will make you happier than money will.

We tend to spend money on things we value. If you value therapy and getting mental health treatment, you’ll feel more comfortable spending money on it. If you have enough in your budget to pay the full cost out of pocket, you’re ready to go! If not, there are a few things you can do.

Figure out if your insurance will help cover the cost of therapy

Call your insurance company to learn the specifics of your plan and coverage (this information is free, private, and will not affect your rates). Ask your insurance provider:

What is your copay for mental health? This is what you would pay a therapist per session if they accept your insurance plan in-network. Copays hover around $20 per session; some more, some less.

What are your out-of-network benefits? Often, insurance plans will reimburse you a percentage of your monthly session fees. Through this method, you may see a therapist who accepts out-of-pocket payment and file with your insurance company to receive a percentage of what you paid back to you monthly.

Insurance is complicated and can be scary to deal with. If you need more of a breakdown, we’ve got you covered.

Ask your therapist if they have a sliding scale fee

During your phone consultation with a potential therapist, ask if they have a sliding scale fee, which means they’re willing to treat patients who couldn’t otherwise afford it for a lower rate. Talking about money or negotiating rates can be intimidating, so try to be upfront with the therapist about what you can afford per weekly session by going back to the budget you made, taking the monthly amount you set aside for therapy, and dividing by four. The therapist will tell you if that fee is too low for them and be able to clarify their range, then you can see if you’re still able to make it work.

Seek out lower-cost alternatives

You can also try group psychotherapy, a special form of therapy in which a small number of people meet together under the guidance of a professionally trained therapist to help themselves and one another. Typically, group therapy is about half the price of individual therapy and you’ll get to meet and interact with people as the whole group learns to work on shared problems.

However you decide to seek therapy is up to you and depends on many factors, including your budget

By understanding how much therapy costs, where there is room in your budget to pay for it, and how to make a plan to get started, you’ll be on your way to getting the mental health care you deserve.

How to afford therapy

Therapy can be life-changing. It can give you a safe space to work through mental health struggles and provide you with the skills to cope. It can help you heal from pains in your past, increase your confidence, and send you on your way feeling stronger. Going to therapy can be a fantastic tool to help lead you to a happy, fulfilling life full of clear goals and strong relationships.

Sounds simple, right? Not so fast.

Yes, therapy can be an amazingly positive experience. But the cost of an average session can be anywhere from $75 to $200. For some, that cost just isn’t realistic. If you don’t have insurance, or if your insurance doesn’t cover mental health services, you may not know what to do next. We believe therapy is a resource that everyone should have access to, and luckily, other people do too.

Here are five reasonably priced ways you can work therapy into your life.

Does This Thing Slide?

Ask your therapist about their sliding scale options.

A sliding scale is an option that you can address before or during your first session with a therapist. Many therapists will adjust their hourly fee to match your income or base it on the financial resources you have to put towards therapy. You just have to ask.

It can also be an option if you’ve already been seeing a therapist and need to reevaluate your spending.

Imagine you’ve found your dream therapist. Everything’s going great: you’re comfortable, the sessions feel productive, and you’re truly benefitting from their help. But suddenly your life takes a U-turn and you find that your finances are in a tough spot. You can’t afford their services anymorewhat now?

Don’t panic. Start a dialogue with your therapist and explain your situation to them. Not all therapists will provide a sliding scale to their clients, but it doesn’t hurt to ask.

I'm a homeless (now pointless) college grad working as a host for about $12/hr, living out of a motel with family. I've been having problems since childhood, but it only escalated in college and now I'm left with seizures, excessive depression and suicidal thoughts instead of progressing life in remotely anything.

Everything I've contacted today – the suicide hotline, the mobile crisis people, a few insurance sites – was absolutely no help. If I wasn't such a wuss to painful deaths, I would've been slit something by now because I've been hung up on and left standing for a full hour and a half.

But something keeps telling me to try. I don't know why and I fucking hate it, so I'm still looking for solutions.

So I need to know how people can afford therapy and doctors who prescribe meds for shit like this. I don't even think I have money to afford the insurance itself, so how would I have money for a therapist or medicine? When is it OK to just quit?

I don't know if this counts as a "local search", but I'll put a locale anyway – I'm in the US (state of Georgia).

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I get the feeling that you've looked everywhere, but don't worry because there are very helpful things you can do on your own.

I often tell people to talk with their local social services. I'll show you two links with information that might help.

This is something very important to know. Therapists often recommend self-help to go along with their therapy. The evidence for self-help in treating at least moderate depression is very encouraging.

If you go to Metapsychology, you can read a psychologist's review of Dr Steve Ilardi's book ("a splendid book").He's the therapist and researcher who headed the Univ of Kansas lifestyle-depression project. The book reviews treatments. Study of therapy for depression that's behavior change alone shows that this is very important in CBT, the therapy used most often for depression.

There are things other than medicine that work on the system physically, and they are mostly very easy. Even exercise is easy if you do it right – start with as little a 20 min brisk walking a day and add to that gradually.

Taking things in baby steps – very important. This is the key to motivation and motivation is the key to recovery.

Just 20 min of brisk walking a day can help, and you can add to that gradually so long as you don't make yourself sick of exercise with too much.

This is a motivation trick that's been used in behavior modification programs since the 1930s. If a task seems like it's too big, think of it as a series of tasks that you can take on one at a time, and start with something really, really easy. Cleaning – start by cleaning for 3 or 4 min and take a 5 min break. Homework – start by proofreading a paper or previewing a chapter you're going to read by looking at headings, sub-headings, etc.

You can even use the baby steps principle for having fun. If you're not getting any enjoyment out of things, here's something that people here have said is helpful with that problem. Look all over and do a complete inventory. You should be able to find at least one or two things you like, such as your favorite music or movie. If there's just one movie you like, watch it once or twice. Then, find movies that are like it in some way – with similar story or the same actor. Keep adding to your entertainment supply to give it variety.

If you're thinking about professional help, treatment usually begins by seeing the GP, who can give you a referral. I mention referral because just a bottle of pills is not a very good approach. The things you'd want to tell the doctor are how you feel at different times of day, any symptoms you might have such as change in appetite or sleep, and things in your life affecting how you feel.

If you're depressed, I can't tell you exactly what you need. There's no one size fits all solution. I can tell you though that there are healthy lifestyle choices that can enhance the effects of the standard treatments with office visits.

Video, below – details about self-help based on cognitive-behavioral therapy and lifestyle choices that help with depression – nutrition, basic lifestyle things like sleep, exercise, and social support, also traditional Asian methods.

Many Listed Therapists Offer Sessions At A Low-Cost Rate Between $50-$65 To Support Those Experiencing Financial Difficulty.

Find Affordable, Low-Cost, Sliding Scale Therapy & Counselling Anywhere In Canada.

All Listed Therapists Offer Sliding Scale Rates To Those Who Cannot Easily Access Standard Therapy Fees.

Find Affordable, Low-Cost, Sliding Scale Therapy & Counselling Anywhere In Canada.

Those Who Can Pay Standard Rates Support Our Therapists In Providing More Options To Those Who Can’t.

Find Affordable, Low-Cost, Sliding Scale Therapy & Counselling Anywhere In Canada.

An initiative to increase access to Mental Health services across Canada

Serving Toronto, Vancouver, Halifax, Winnipeg, Victoria, Calgary, Ottawa, Regina, Montreal, Edmonton, Saskatoon, Saint John, Quebec City, Mississauga, Brampton, Surrey, Hamilton, And More…

Online Counsellors available anywhere in canada.

How to afford therapy

We aim to make support affordable for everyone.

Therapists Listed With Affordable Therapy Network Offer:


Low-cost rates ranging between $50- $65 to support those experiencing financial difficulty.


Sliding scale rates for those who don’t require the low-cost rate, but cannot access standard therapy fees. Approximately $70-$120 and varies between individual therapists.


Those who pay standard rates support our Therapists in providing options to those who can’t.

How to afford therapy

About Sliding Scale Services

The level of sensitivity, training, and skill involved is reflective of the value of therapeutic services.

While this is so, many providers recognize that not everyone is able to pay standard fees and offer a reduced rate (sliding scale) to a limited number of clients in need.

We invite you to contact one of the practitioners listed. They will be more than happy to talk with you about your needs and determine a plan that will work for both of you.

How to afford therapy

Serving The Community

The community we aim to serve are those who, for various reasons, cannot pay standard rates but would really like someone to talk to.

While many therapists offer a sliding scale, knowing where to find them is not easy and it’s not always comfortable for those seeking these services to ask for them.

When a person is ready, the process of finding a therapist can be intimidating. We aim to make that process easier.

How to afford therapy

Providing Options

A secondary aim of this initiative is to provide options for those who do not want to go through publicly funded organizations.

The process required to utilize such services can be long and daunting, which often results in people not getting support or in having their options greatly limited.

By providing a visible and accessible resource of therapists and other support services at reduced rates, we aim to provide more options and choice to a community in need.

An initiative to increase access to mental health services across Canada


If you are a Counsellor, Therapist, or Mental Health Professional interested in joining the initiative, we would love to hear from you.

Read about how to List With Us to get started.

Who We Are

The Affordable Therapy Network is a Directory of Therapists offering Low Cost and Sliding Scale rates across Canada.

The development of the project has been an ongoing collaboration with service users, peers, and professionals. We started as a Grassroots initiative with a small number of therapists listed, and have grown a lot since then!

Thanks to our listed therapists and collaborators, thousands of people across Canada have been able to access support they can afford.

We take user feedback to heart and continuously strive to make the Network as accessible and relevant as possible.

Saving your sanity doesn’t need to leave you bankrupt.

Girlfriends are great for keeping your head on straight, but sometimes problems and situations need more professional guidance than unloading over wine can offer. But we all know good help doesn't come cheap-or does it?

"People tend to only think of expensive, private therapy, but there are so many options of how to get help when you're struggling with difficult situations and emotions," says Theresa Nguyen, L.C.S.W., vice president of policy and programs at the nonprofit Mental Health America.

It's true, seeing a psychologist can definitely create a black hole in your budget. But there are actually a heckuva lot of options for getting treatment at just $50, $25, even for free. "Money should never be the sole factor keeping someone from getting help," Nguyen adds. (And if you're not convinced you need one in the first place, read this: Why Everyone Should Try Therapy at Least Once)

We've rounded up nine ways you can afford to confide on the couch and talk to things through with someone more qualified than your girlfriends.

Call your insurance.

With the passage of the Mental Health Parity Act, every insurance plan-including those under the ACA-includes mental health coverage, and it should be the same co-pay as your other doctor's appointments, says Nguyen. The only problem: There are far fewer therapists in-network than out-of-network, meaning the professionals your insurance will cover are booked out for months. But it's definitely worth calling the providers who only charge that co-pay. (Related: How to Find the Best Therapist for You)

If you want immediate help, look at out-of-network clinicians who accept your insurance. You'll have to hit your deductible before your insurance company will start covering anything, and even then, you're probably still fronting close to half the cost. But who knows-that might be enough of a discount to get your bank account on board. If not, keep reading.

Ask about cash rates.

If you want to see a bona fide therapist ASAP, you're probably looking at a professional who's out of network or who doesn't take insurance at all (like some 30 percent of psychologists). It's definitely worth it to highlight your limited income and ask if there are any alternative payments, Nguyen advises. A lot will discount if you pay in cash, though keep in mind psychologists set their own rates, Nguyen says. (So if he or she is in high demand, their cash rate isn't necessarily the cheapest option out there.)

Ask about sliding scales.

Another option if you're limited financially is to ask about a sliding scale. Not every therapist has one, but some will charge, say, $20 an hour and offset that with other clients who can pay more, Nguyen explains. You can typically filter for this option when searching for a therapist on a database. If you don't want to or can't put in the legwork of finding someone with a sliding scale on your own, consider joining Open Path Psychotherapy Collective. You pay a one-time subscription fee of $50 to be matched up with a therapist near you who will only charge between $30 and $50 per session.

Look at college services.

If you're in undergrad or grad school, your university likely offers mental health services, and you'd be talking to someone who understands your community and your life, says Nguyen. And most of the time, it's free.

Work with a pre-licensed professional.

Signing up with someone straight out of school rather than an official L.C.S.W. or Ph.D. may work to your financial advantage. Pre-licensed professional train under the supervision of a licensed psychologist and may charge less for clients. That doesn't necessarily speak to the quality of their work, Nguyen adds. "Feeling like you can have rapport with a person is more important than their degree." It's definitely a good option, but do research on this person just like you would anywhere else, she adds.

Call a warm line.

"A warm line is a completely free, telephone-based way to have a chat with somebody if what you need is two or three conversations, but you don't need regular therapy sessions," says Nguyen. The lines are typically run by the local government and manned by people who aren't licensed clinicians but who have had training in essentially how to listen compassionately to help provide clarity. Check out this database to find your local number.

Use a digital therapist.

"The nice thing about a telehealth app is you have much more control over finding someone you like. It can be scary to break up with a therapist face-to-face, but with the apps, you can try out different listeners and therapists and find one that gives you the support you need," Nguyen adds. Plus, they're typically a lot cheaper than in-person therapy. (Related: 11 Signs It's Time to Break Up with Your Therapist)

Digital therapy apps run the gamut of who you're connected with. Some, like Talkspace or BetterHelp, match you with a licensed counselor whom you can text or video chat with anytime, any day for a flat monthly rate. Others, like Happy, are "compassionate listening" services, connecting you with someone who has been trained to lend a sympathetic ear as you pay, typically, by the minute. (Related: The Best Therapy and Mental Health Apps)

Find a digital support group.

Whatever you're struggling with, chances are someone else is going through the same thing-that's the basis of support groups on Facebook and apps like Huddle, which is essentially modern chatrooms for people struggling with anxiety, body image issues, postpartum depression, and most anything else you can think of. "There's a little bit of everything for everyone, and suddenly you're connecting with people who really empathize and become a great support system," says Nguyen. This probably isn't the best option if you need someone to work through a really complex problem with you, but if you have questions you're burning to know but don't necessarily need answered immediately, digital support groups can be great. Plus, they're free!

Opt for group therapy instead of private.

Private or public group therapy is like the mental health version of AA and is often free, Nguyen says. These are typically peer support groups hosted in a variety of ways-sometimes local mental health organizations will hold group talks that anyone can drop by, often themed based on issues like depression or sexual assault; some health care companies will host, say, stress management group talks at your office. Check out your local Mental Health America affiliate, who can direct you to support groups in your area.

Physical therapy has benefits that go well beyond aches and sprains. Treatment can help patients live healthier lives when they have greater access to a physical therapist. Maybe it’s simply the warm touch of a kind person, but physical therapy does help people feel better, even if it doesn’t always cure the treated condition. A recent study shows that insurance companies who allow patients to see a physical therapist without a doctor’s referral have fewer illnesses and end up costing insurers less money in the long run. Some call this direct access physical therapy. Not only does it save insurance company’s money, it saves uninsured individuals the cost of an initial doctor’s visit.

Direct Access Care

With direct access, patients no longer need to see the primary care physician for a referral before seeking the help of a physical therapist. This helps in many ways. First, patients are quicker to schedule appointments when they are in pain, treatment muscular conditions more quickly before they turn into major problems. However, direct access care is not available everywhere. In many states, the law requires that a physician, nurse practitioner or dentist prescribe any physical therapy treatment regiments. Given that physical therapy can do much good and little harm, many states are changing those regulations, with certain limitations.

For instance, some laws require a therapist to be licensed for at least three years before a patient can come for treatment without a doctor’s order. Others require a doctor’s visit if the patient seeks physical therapy for an extended time or for a specified number of visits. Once that threshold is reached, the patient cannot gain further direct access care without visiting a doctor first.

How to Save on Physical Therapy Treatment

Although a physical therapist salary is high, and therefore the cost of treatment can be high for the average person, there are ways to get physical therapy treatment at a reduced cost. To understand why you can get cheaper services, it’s important to understand how health insurance works.

Physical therapy bills are high, around $150 for an initial visit and evaluation. Subsequent visits run around $75 depending on the specific treatment and your condition. However, the insurance company doesn’t pay anywhere near that. They have an agreement with just about every physical therapy office to pay a reduced rate. Therapists accept the lower rate because it guarantees a swift payment from the insurance company, instead of chasing patients for the bill. You can get the benefit of a lower rate in exchange for guaranteed payment by paying cash at the time of your visit. While not all therapy offices work this way, the health insurance crisis has spurred huge growth in cash-paid office visits.

You won’t know if your physical therapist gives discounts in exchange for cash unless you ask. Some offices will mention the option to you when you book your first appointment and tell them you have no health insurance. If you have a pending appointment, call now to find out if you can pay cash to save money. You’ll be able to afford the care you need and live a healthier life in the long run.

How to afford therapy

If you are struggling with stress, mood, or your mental health overall, therapy can be an immensely useful tool. But, as anyone who’s tried to seek out mental health treatment knows, therapy can get pretty expensive. Good Therapy estimates that the cost of a therapy session can range between $5 and $300, depending on the area, and notes that insurance may not cover it. So what do you do if you can’t afford therapy?

"Therapy is an investment: an investment in yourself, your own well-being and your future," counselor Heidi McBain tells Bustle. "It can be very expensive, especially to see a specialist in the field, but you’re worth it."

Before you start search for free or low-cost therapy options — which very much exist — make sure you have a budget in mind for what you can truly afford to spend, whether that’s $15 a week, $30 a month, or nothing. And if researching reduced-cost options feels like a burden unto itself, recruit a trusted friend to help you do some research. Reaching out to your support network can also be helpful — they may have found low-cost resources already who they can link you with, if you are comfortable asking.

Just because therapy doesn’t seem financially accessible right now doesn’t mean it can’t work. Free or low-cost therapy is available through a variety of different avenues, whether that’s a dedicated low-cost service, or negotiating a lower rate with a private counselor. Your mental health is always worth investing in, and there are always options that can work with your budget. Here are a few things to try if therapy seems financially out of reach right now.

I'm curious, therapy is very pricey and I'm wondering if most people have coverage through work or are paying out of pocket.

I’m so poor it’s totally covered by Medicaid

Working at least one job (at times I've held 2), used to have a "side hustle" too. It's by far my biggest monthly expense after rent, but if its the cost of staying then so be it. It has improved my daily quality of life dramatically so it continues to be worth it

· 4m

I pay out of pocket and get reimbursed through insurance. They used to pay only

50% but with the pandemic they’ve started covering 100% of telehealth which is amazing.

Can I ask what insurance you’re with?

My Blue Cross just stopped covering telehealth. 🙁 after telling me the week before they likely wouldnt for a while.

I'm on Medicare, and my mom pays the coinsurance cost, the 20% that they don't cover. I am 38 years old.

medicaid. i only qualify because of severe PTSD though. thats the bright side of the USA. its real expensive, but get good insurance or maybe a better job. i honestly believe therapy shouldn’t cost money. its really really hard to find good coverage, but thats another thing ordinary people have to fight for sadly

In 2014 I reached bottom and started (again) therapy. My co-payment was pricey so. I took a part-time job on top of my full-time job, in order to afford therapy and I thought of the effort as part of the therapy itself.

I strongly suggest everyone doing the same.

Related reading, check out the book "Ordeal therapy" by Jay Haley.

That's dedication to get help. It also probably helped push you to be the change since you had so much invested in it. Well done!

I’ve gotten school therapy. But I really want a specialist so I might have to switch. I’ve had therapy through masters programs, not bad but not as good as an expert. I did one through a church organization and it was rly bad tho :/

Work provides insurance.

I did use BetterHelp for a few months. It will let you apply for discounted rates based on income.

Made my abusive mom pay for it, then proceeded to run away from her because she was abusive. She had stopped paying at that point anyway. Now I go to therapy for a couple of months when I hit a roadblock and either save money upfront or put it on credit card. Nowadays most of my mental care comes from self care.

Blue cross through my old employer used to cover it at 100%, new employers United Health does not cover mental health at all. I haven’t been able to find anything for less than 120$ a session (after sliding scale) so I haven’t been in therapy for a few months. I’m suffering 🙃

I have Florida Blue – Blue Options, through the county (I’m a teacher). Both my psychologist and psychiatrist are covered 100% through my insurance.

I am very lucky. I know my insurance also offers like up to five sessions free at their center or something though. I think a lot of it depends on finding a therapist who takes your insurance. I’ve found it to be difficult with having Florida Blue – Blue Options (PPO).

There are women on this site who are therapists in their profession. Perhaps they will see this and help you out free of charge. If you are serious and will not waste their time.

Perhaps one of them will see this post and message you privately and take you on if they see you genuinely need help and won’t disrespect their profession.


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You got me. TOOTH-less ♫
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Workbooks and online recovery forums tailored to your specific needs.

Some of these problems are hashed out on black Facebook groups like Therapy For Black Girls Thrive Tribe and The Safe Space.

Call 211 for local programs with grants to help with counseling. Someone is always getting funding for free sessions.

A sliding scale therapist would be a first choice. But I say look at their specialty; work on online worksheets, journaling and books for your issue, while saving for the first three or four sessions with gas/transport/uber costs.