More people than ever before are choosing therapy to make their mental health a priority. However, therapy sessions can be expensive, and some insurance companies don’t cover all of the costs associated with your treatment.
Here’s how to find an affordable therapist in your area or online so you can take the first step toward a more fulfilling life.
*If you’re experiencing symptoms of a mental illness or distress, speak to your doctor. This blog is for educational purposes only, and it is not intended as medical advice.
Why should you choose therapy?
The beautiful thing about our minds is that they’re all unique. So mental health solutions that work for one person may not work for another—but this is where therapy shines.
Clinicians (psychologists who run therapy sessions) have tools that can help a wide array of people. It’s of the utmost importance to look for a therapist who specializes in your area of concern. Whether it’s depression, anxiety, grief counseling, or PTSD, there’s a therapist that can cater to your needs. It’s like meeting new friends—it can take a few tries to find someone you like.
The bottom line is you don’t need to struggle with your mental health alone, and there is no problem too small to seek help for. More people now recognize that their mental health should be a priority on par with their daily responsibilities, like work, family, and social life. In fact, in 2020, the rate of Americans seeking professional help reached a new high at about one in six people. The pandemic left many people with either damaged mental health or deep questions about the meaning of their life, and that’s completely normal. You can’t pour from an empty cup, and therapy can help you refill your cup.
Check your insurance coverage
The first step to finding your therapist is to check your insurance coverage. Call your insurance agent or visit their online portal to see what is covered. If you have an HMO, there will be a list of in-network providers partially or fully covered by your plan. Use this list as a starting point to narrow down your search for a good therapist match for you. Keep in mind that you might need a referral from your primary care physician (PCP).
If you have a PPO, it may be a bit less clear as to where you can go for therapy. Sometimes, only certain types of treatment are covered, such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) or group therapy. You can call and ask if a specific provider would be covered or if they would let you use your FSA card or HSA card to pay for their services.
Look for sliding-scale fees
If you don’t have mental health insurance, consider looking for therapists who have sliding-scale fees, which means your fees for sessions are calculated based on your income. Additionally, you can ask if they offer discounts for students, military members, or health professionals.
Contact local colleges and universities
Clinical psychology programs often require their graduate students to spend a set number of hours at the university or college’s clinic for their capstone internship. Contact the program and ask if they accept patients outside of the school. In most cases, the school clinics provide their services for free because the graduate students are using the sessions as practice and cannot accept payment. But you should be aware that students are using therapy sessions for their schoolwork, so your conversations are oftentimes recorded for their supervisor to grade and give feedback on. Those recordings are still private and stay between you, your therapist, and their licensed supervisor.
Search for mental health nonprofit organizations
Since mental health services are commonly unaffordable or hard to find, many mental health organizations are rising to the occasion to help cover costs for people seeking treatment. Here are a few national organizations that could help you pay for and locate affordable therapists near you. Most mental health organizations have satellite or affiliate locations they fund that offer specialized treatments. Do your own research so that you can find the best nonprofit for your needs. Additionally, some organizations help certain demographics, such as single parents, women of color, LGBTQ+, and trauma survivors.
Sometimes the hardest part of getting help for your mental health is getting in the car and driving to see your therapist in person. There are now solutions for this struggle! Teletherapy, or online therapy, is secure and just as effective as in-person therapy for some people. Nationwide services like Better Help and Talk Space, on average, cost less than traditional therapy. You can meet with your therapist over a phone call, video call, or even over chat. Insurance can cover teletherapy, but if not, you can work with your service to devise a payment plan right for you.
Your mental health treatment journey doesn’t have to be stressful. If you take advantage of these tips and resources, you can find a therapist to help you navigate your life.