What to Do When You Can’t Afford Therapy (2023)

If you’re unsure whether therapy fits in your budget, there are alternatives that may open doors that you thought were sealed shut.

It’s not always easy admitting you need mental health help. Some people feel shame. Others don’t feel as if they can talk to their families or friends about it. And for others, the cost feels like an insurmountable barrier.

In other words, taking the first step to finding help can be tough.

But finding help is getting easier. There are now mental health resources that are more convenient and affordable.

What to Do When You Can’t Afford Therapy (1)Share on Pinterest

Finding therapy that fits your budget can be a challenge, especially if you’re seeking therapy after a recent trauma, such as losing your job, the death of a loved one, or leaving an abusive relationship.

But there are lower-cost options if you know where to look.

First, check your insurance

If you have insurance through your employer, the Health Insurance Marketplace, or Medicaid, your plan covers essential mental health services, including:

(Video) What you CAN do if you can't Afford Therapy — Therapist Explains!

  • psychotherapy
  • counseling
  • inpatient services
  • substance use disorder treatment

Specific health benefits (like how much your copay or coinsurance amount will be) will depend on your state and your health plan, but you cannot be denied coverage.

If you are on Medicare, Medicare Part B also covers some mental health services, including an annual screening for depression.

If you can, use an “in-network” therapist. “Out-of-network” therapists aren’t usually covered and may result in a bigger bill.

Not all therapists accept insurance. Before booking an appointment, you’ll want to see if the therapist takes insurance and if they’ll accept your specific plan.

You may also need a referral for certain services, depending on the reason you seek treatment, according to Kasia Ciszewski, a licensed professional counselor in the Mount Pleasant and Charleston, South Carolina, areas. “It’s always best to check with your insurance provider first” before booking an appointment.

If you have a high-deductible plan,you should be able to use your Health Savings Account (HSA) for copays or coinsurance payments.

Ask your therapist about sliding scale options, discounted rates, or shorter sessions

If you don’t have health insurance or your therapist doesn’t take insurance, you may still have options.

“Many private practitioners offer sliding [payment] scales,” says Lauren Pass Erickson, a somatic psychotherapist and licensed professional counselor candidate in Colorado. “It’s always worthwhile to ask, even if the therapist you’re interested in doesn’t advertise their sliding scale.”

Sliding scale options are based on your income. You can also ask about shorter sessions (which cost less) or meet with your therapist less often, such as every other week.

Still, keep in mind that experts generally don’t advise meeting less than once a week, and some research indicates that meeting more frequently often leads to quicker improvements.

Meet with a psychologist in training

You may also want to consider a psychologist training clinic. Most of these clinics are at universities and colleges that are training their students to become licensed therapists.

(Video) What To Do If You Can't Afford Therapy

Though your therapist may be in training, they’ll always be overseen by a professionally licensed expert and teacher.

“Clients shouldn’t be afraid of working with an intern or a trainee,” says Erickson. “Interns have a lot of supervision, are very hardworking and passionate about helping their clients, have fresh and up-to-date educational training, and can often be seen for a very low cost.”

If you’re looking for a clinic close to you, the Association of Psychology Training Clinics has a list of training centers.

Look into community mental health centers

Local community mental health centers are another good resource. They tend to be more familiar with local neighborhood issues and cultural attitudes around mental health in the communities they serve.

They not only provide mental health assistance, but they can also reduce the stigma of mental illness.

They have also been shown to help reduce suicide rates nationally.

Check out online therapy services or see if your therapist offers online sessions

If you’re having difficulty fitting therapy sessions around your work schedule, consider online options. They have become more readily available since the national COVID-19 lockdowns.

“Online therapy could be as good as in-person therapy for some individuals,” says Ciszewski. “If you travel a lot or struggle with physical disabilities, online therapy can be an amazing option for you as well.”

Online therapy allows you to meet with your therapist over a video call or correspond through text messages.

Some online therapy services such as Therapy Aid, Talkspace, and BetterHelp offer free or discounted trials to new sign-ups.

Many of them also take insurance.

(Video) What to Do When You Can't Afford Therapy: 5 Free or Low Cost Alternatives

No-cost options are available.

Check if your employer has an Employee Assistance Program

An Employee Assistance Program (EAP) is a free benefits plan that some employers offer. It can include counseling for personal and/or work-life stressors. All discussions are confidential.

The number of sessions you can have is limited, but if you need to talk with someone immediately, this is definitely worth considering.

Look for local and online support groups

Nonprofits, volunteer, and local organizations offer many free support groups for grief, trauma, and addiction recovery.

For example, Mental Health America, a nonprofit organization that promotes mental health and wellness, offers a wide list of support groups that help people living with:

  • substance use disorder
  • mental disorders
  • domestic violence
  • physical disabilities

The National Alliance of Mental Illness (NAMI) offers free peer-led support groups focused on mental illness, in addition to support groups for parents and family members.

Self-help books, meditation apps, and podcasts

Many self-led activities can help you improve your overall mental and physical health.

Visit your local library or discount book store for self-help books. There are books to help with grief, depression, and other mental health issues. Some are even freely available online, like the Moodjuice self-help guide for panic and agoraphobia.

(Video) 5 Signs that You Need Therapy! | Kati Morton

If you have a smartphone, there are free mental health apps for meditation, anxiety, bipolar disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) support. There’re also podcasts on mental health and recovery.

While these tools can’t replace traditional therapy in all cases, they can be highly beneficial.

“I think you can always learn something from anything you watch, read, or listen to,” says Ciszewski.

If you are religious, try talking with someone in your congregation

Faith and religion-based help can be a big benefit for people looking for mental health support. Not only will you likely find compassion and understanding, but the help will also be aligned with your faith and values.

Talk with the people in your congregation or see if there are support groups.

“Never underestimate the benefit of social support and community connection in general,” says Erickson. “Religious groups, meet-ups, and other regular gatherings can do wonders, even if their focus is not explicitly mental health.”

Financial limitations shouldn’t prevent anyone from finding help.

Checking in with your insurance company, asking for sliding-scale or reduced fees, or enlisting the help of a psychologist in training are choices that could help you fit therapy into your budget.

(Video) Can't Afford Therapy? Here's What You Can Do | Anxiety & Mental Health | BeerBiceps Shorts

And while some options (like apps, self-help books, or podcasts) may not be a substitute for regular sessions with a mental health professional, there’s a lot you can do to improve your mental health, even if it’s not traditional therapy.

Just remember that there are compassionate, caring professionals and experts who want to help you find the answers you need.

If you’re still wondering whether therapy is the best option for you at this time, you can check out our free therapy quiz to find out.


What to Do When You Can’t Afford Therapy? ›

“There are several options to consider when you can't afford therapy. Asking a therapist for a sliding scale or pro bono services, applying for services at a local community center, checking if your employer offers an employee assistance program, and checking online services are some of the options.”

How do you cope when you can't afford therapy? ›

“There are several options to consider when you can't afford therapy. Asking a therapist for a sliding scale or pro bono services, applying for services at a local community center, checking if your employer offers an employee assistance program, and checking online services are some of the options.”

When a client is unable to afford therapy it is possible? ›

When a client is unable to afford therapy, it is possible that he or she may: offer a bartering arrangement or exchanging goods in lieu of a fee. In the author's view, nonerotic touching between counselor and client should be: a spontaneous and honest expression of the therapist's feelings.

Is $300 too much for therapy? ›

Most professional therapists will charge you between $100 and $250 for an hour-long session if you don't have insurance. Others may charge less than $100 (about $50 – $90) or more than $250 (around $300 – $500). It largely depends on the type of specialist and therapy session.

What percentage of people Cannot afford therapy? ›

Eight in 10 people said going to therapy was a good investment, but 40% of those surveyed reported that they needed financial support to attend therapy, the survey found.

Why therapy is so expensive? ›

Increased Demand. 1-in-5 U.S. adults experienced mental health problems in 2020. The number of people experiencing mental health issues continues to rise every year. Because so many people need mental health care, resources have been depleted and costs have increased.

What if therapy doesn t help you? ›

Ask Your Therapist About Next Steps

If therapy isn't working, the first person you should talk to is your therapist. She may opt to change her approach to treatment, pursue more “homework” options for you, or even refer you to another therapist.

How do you terminate therapy with an unhappy client? ›

Explore the feelings and the potential sense of loss for the client. Discuss positive and negative reactions to ending the relationship and the therapy. Focus on and emphasize the gains and progress the client has made. Help the client recognize the positive changes.

What is client abandonment in therapy? ›

When clinicians leave a caseload without coverage by an appropriately qualified professional, it is called client abandonment.

How does a therapist drop a client? ›

There is a standardized professional process to ending therapeutic relationships. “A proper therapist break-up includes a conversation, an explanation, and either an acknowledgement of your success, or a referral to another provider,” says Goerlich. Miller-Martinez agrees.

How much can I really tell my therapist? ›

The short answer is that you can tell your therapist anything – and they hope that you do. It's a good idea to share as much as possible, because that's the only way they can help you.

What is a reasonable amount to spend on therapy? ›

Factors that impact therapy cost
Type of therapyAverage cost per session without health insurance
Individual therapy$150
Couples therapy$70-$250
Group therapy$50-$300
Online therapy$40-$70 per week
1 more row
May 5, 2023

Is $100 a lot for therapy? ›

Average Cost of Therapy

Therapy generally ranges from $65 per hour to $250 or more. In most areas of the country, a person can expect to pay $100-$200 per session. Some factors that can affect the price of therapy include: The therapist's training.

Is it true that therapy isn t for everyone? ›

Research shows not everyone needs therapy — but everyone needs some form of mental health support. You may get along just fine with social support from loved ones or with peer support from people who understand what you're going through.

How many people get worse from therapy? ›

Anywhere from 50 to 75 percent of people who go to therapy report some benefit—but at least 5 percent of clients get worse as a result of treatment. (For people from marginalized groups, harmful outcomes may be even more common.) The remainder report no clear benefit at all.

What country has the highest rate of mental illness? ›

1. Greenland
  • Rate of Depressive Disorders: 6.61%
  • Rate of All Mental Disorders: 17.85%

How many Americans can't afford mental health care? ›

Almost a third (28.2%) of all adults with a mental illness reported that they were not able to receive the treatment they needed. 42% of adults with AMI reported they were unable to receive necessary care because they could not afford it. 10.8% (over 5.5 million) of adults with a mental illness are uninsured.

What are the cons of going to therapy? ›

There are potential risks to psychotherapy. People may initially feel worse as the therapy progresses. In rare cases, psychotherapy may even trigger some people to have thoughts about wanting to hurt themselves or end their lives.

Is therapy actually worth it? ›

Therapy can increase your confidence, self-esteem, and communication skills. If you have trouble in areas of confidence and self-esteem, therapy is a great way to work on underlying causes – and learn tools to overcome them.

Is crying in therapy a breakthrough? ›

In these instances, tears indicate that the person is at least temporarily giving up the struggle. Although this is commonly thought of as a “breakdown,” we optimistically consider it a potential breakthrough.

Is no therapy better than bad therapy? ›

People who've been to a bad therapist can tell you: bad therapy is worse than no therapy at all. A bad therapist can shut down your healing process instead of helping it along. Bad therapy can even be destructive, either re-traumatizing you or causing new psychological harm.

When should you stop therapy? ›

Signs that a client may be ready to end therapy include achieving their goals, reaching a plateau, and not having anything to talk about. Instead of ending therapy entirely, some clients may choose to see their therapist less frequently.

Do therapists grieve clients? ›

Even when proper therapeutic boundaries are held, it is not unusual for a counselor to grieve a client's death. Counselors often form emotional bonds with their clients because therapeutic relationships are relationships.

Can a therapist just drop a client? ›

Ethically, psychologists must terminate treatment if they can't address a patient's needs, if the patient isn't benefiting from treatment over time, or in the event of an inappropriate multiple relationship that may impair objectivity or judgment or harm the patient.

How do you politely quit therapy? ›

7 Tips on how to end therapy
  1. Figure out the 'why' behind it. ...
  2. Talk with your therapist. ...
  3. Or send an email or text. ...
  4. Be honest. ...
  5. Consider the 'conscious goodbye' ...
  6. Have a plan. ...
  7. Discuss ending therapy at the get-go.
May 18, 2021

Is it ethical for a client to see two therapists at the same time? ›

Turns out it's pretty easy to find resources and articles that say no, it's not recommended. The reasons given (often by therapists) include splitting, conflicting treatment plans, creating secrets (especially if they aren't aware of each other or aren't in communication).

What do therapists notice about their clients? ›

* How much or how little eye contact they make with me throughout the session, and where their gaze is focused in the room (at something in particular, up, down, sideways, eyes shut, etc). * Their appearance: how much effort they appear to put into their appearance, or are they unkempt and struggling with self-care?

Which of the following is an appropriate reason to terminate therapy? ›

Counselors terminate a counseling relationship when it becomes reasonably apparent that the client no longer needs assistance, is not likely to benefit, or is being harmed by continued counseling.

What percentage of clients drop out of therapy? ›

Ghosting Your Therapist: Why Do Individuals Prematurely Dropout of Therapy. Studies show that 20-57% of individuals do not return to therapy after their initial appointment. There are various reasons for this, and for premature dropout rate in general.

How do you say goodbye to a therapist? ›

Good goodbyes in therapy tend to include several elements: Reviewing what life was like before therapy, acknowledging what has changed for the better, acknowledging what has not yet changed but is at least not stuck anymore, talking about what it was like to be in therapy with this particular therapist, what you will ...

How often do clients drop out of therapy? ›

Client dropout from psychotherapy is a huge problem. A recent meta-analysis found that about 1 in 5 patients leave treatment before they have reached an acceptable level of recovery, against the recommendation of their therapist.

Is there anything I shouldn't tell my therapist? ›

Other things to avoid during a therapy session include: asking about other confidential conversations with other clients; showcasing violent emotions; or implying any romantic or sexual interest in your therapist.

How many clients do therapists see on average? ›

Research by the American Psychological Association (APA) found that almost 42% of psychologists work between 40 – 49 hours per week on average. “It's not uncommon for therapists to see an average of 6-9 clients per day and up to 20 plus per week.

Is it OK to not tell your therapist everything? ›

The amount of information you share with a therapist is entirely up to you. After all, you're the client. Still, the more honest you are with your therapist, the better. Giving your therapist a window into your thoughts, feelings, and experiences provides them with context and details, so they can best help you.

Is $150 a lot for therapy? ›

Psychologists' rates average around $70 to $150 per therapy session.

Which type of therapy is most cost effective? ›

Mental health professionals often use CBT to address bipolar disorder, anxiety, depression and substance use disorders. Because it can treat a wide range of conditions, CBT is a cost-effective approach to improving mental health with an excellent success rate.

Do you pay before or after therapy? ›

Ideally, you'll want to invoice before meeting with them, or at the very least before they leave the office on the day of the appointment. But, if you're more lenient, or you're working with insurance, you may not require immediate payment in full.

How do people afford to go to therapy? ›

“There are several options to consider when you can't afford therapy. Asking a therapist for a sliding scale or pro bono services, applying for services at a local community center, checking if your employer offers an employee assistance program, and checking online services are some of the options.”

How often should you see a therapist? ›

A weekly session is a great place to start when beginning therapy. Generally, most patients will start with this frequency, then increase or decrease as needed. A weekly session is ideal for people who want to build skills related to things like mindfulness, coping, and communication.

Is too much therapy a thing? ›

In fact, according to one psychotherapist, some patients actually suffer from too much therapy. Jonathan Alpert, a psychotherapist and author of "Be Fearless: Change Your Life in 28 Days," contends that in many cases, the more therapy sessions someone attends, the less likely they are to be effective.

Why do most people avoid therapy? ›

Individuals fear judgment, change, the unknown, and what they might discover in therapy; additionally, they're too prideful to admit they need help. Additionally, some people doubt the efficacy of mental health treatment: They're uncertain it will work or misunderstand how it works.

Why do I feel like I don't need to be in therapy? ›

The feeling that you're not suffering enough to deserve mental health treatment or seek the support of a therapist—what we've started to call mental health impostor syndrome—is real. Impostor syndrome is a collection of feelings of inadequacy that persist despite evident success.

How many people don t go to therapy because of cost? ›

A recent survey shows 42 percent of U.S. adults who needed care in the previous 12 months did not receive it because of costs and other barriers.

Why is therapy so unaffordable? ›

Mental health care is challenging to afford because of:

The number of people experiencing mental health issues continues to rise every year. Because so many people need mental health care, resources have been depleted and costs have increased.

How long does therapy hangover last? ›

An emotional hangover is any lingering uncomfortable feelings after your first therapy session. They typically appear a few hours after your session and can last into the following day. You may notice a range of emotions, including feeling frustrated, anxious, embarrassed, or irritable.

Why did I get worse after therapy? ›

It is actually normal to occasionally feel bad or worse after therapy, especially during the beginning of your work with a therapist. It can be a sign of progress. As counterintuitive as it may sound, feeling bad during therapy can be good.

What is the number one mental illness in America? ›

Anxiety disorders are considered the most common type of psychiatric disorders in the general population.

What is the number 1 mental health problem in the US? ›

The most common are anxiety disorders major depression and bipolar disorder. Below is more information on these disorders and how ACCESS can help. Remember you are not alone, and medical experts are here to support you.

What is the number one mental illness in the world? ›

- Depression affects more people than any other mental disorder and is also one of the world's leading causes of disability. Although it is a treatable disease, six out of every ten people who have depression in Latin America and the Caribbean do not seek or do not receive the treatment they need.

Is there anyone who doesn't need therapy? ›

Research shows not everyone needs therapy — but everyone needs some form of mental health support. You may get along just fine with social support from loved ones or with peer support from people who understand what you're going through.

Do you ever stop needing therapy? ›

There is no “right” length of time to be in therapy. But for most people, there will come a time when therapy no longer feels necessary or progress has stalled. In most cases, the client will choose to end therapy; there are also situations in which a therapist decides to end sessions and refer a client elsewhere.

Should I go to therapy even if I don't need it? ›

From time to time, you may wonder if it would be okay to make an appointment to see a therapist, not because you're having a major crisis but just because you need someone to talk to. Psychotherapy can be very helpful even if you don't have mental illness and aren't dealing with major losses or problems.

Why does therapy not work for everyone? ›

A person who is a rigid thinker might be resistant to making the appropriate behavioral changes because she doesn't agree with them. A person who has issues with unrealistic expectations and impatience might believe therapy isn't helpful because he thinks he should make much faster progress than he is.

Will a therapist tell you your diagnosis? ›

They may be required to give a diagnosis if you are using insurance; however, you have a right to be a part of that discussion. You have a right to ask how the therapist will use the diagnosis. If you believe your therapist is treating you like a diagnosis and not like a person, discuss this with them.

How long does the average person stay in therapy? ›

The number of recommended sessions varies by condition and treatment type, however, the majority of psychotherapy clients report feeling better after 3 months; those with depression and anxiety experience significant improvement after short and longer time frames, 1-2 months & 3-4.

How long is too long in therapy? ›

People come to therapy to alleviate a disorder or symptoms and treatment lasts as long as those unpleasant symptoms exist, from a few weeks to a few years. If you are symptom-free and that's all you wanted out of therapy, you're all done. In the wellness model, going to therapy is like going to the gym, Howes says.

What percentage of people quit therapy? ›

Ghosting Your Therapist: Why Do Individuals Prematurely Dropout of Therapy. Studies show that 20-57% of individuals do not return to therapy after their initial appointment. There are various reasons for this, and for premature dropout rate in general.

Why do I feel like I have nothing to say to my therapist? ›

Having nothing to say doesn't mean that your problems have gone for good. Sometimes you've been working hard through some issues, and your brain needs a break. So it's kind of like the feeling when a computer shuts down for a little while. You're in mental hibernation until you can figure out what the next move is.

Do I need therapy or am I just overreacting? ›

How do you know if you should talk to a therapist? If you feel overwhelmed or burned out by life's stressors, or are unsure how to move toward a important goal, then therapy can be useful for you. You don't have to be experiencing particular mental health challenges or symptoms to benefit from therapy.

What if I have nothing to say in therapy? ›

Some people feel like if they don't have anything to talk about their therapist will be disappointed. A good therapist doesn't mind if you sit there in silence. This is your time and you have the right to say or not say whatever you want.

Why am I stuck in therapy? ›

This can occur for many reasons. For instance, the client may not be ready for the necessary changes, the gap between sessions is too long, or the therapist isn't pushing the client enough. Feeling stuck in therapy can happen for multiple reasons, including the structure of therapy.

Is it normal to never cry in therapy? ›

The short answer is that no, not everyone does cry in counseling. However, pretty much everyone who participates in counseling does explore very strong emotions and most clients will experience tears at some point in their therapy journey.

Can you get over mental illness without therapy? ›

In most cases, a mental illness won't get better if you try to treat it on your own without professional care. But you can do some things for yourself that will build on your treatment plan: Stick to your treatment plan. Don't skip therapy sessions.


1. What if I Can't Afford Therapy?
(Duff The Psych)
2. How to Respond when Potential Therapy Clients Say They Can't Afford Your Rate
(Dr. Amber Lyda)
3. Can’t Afford Therapy #shorts
(Basel Gazioglu - باسل غازي أوغلو)
4. Psychiatrist Reacts to: "Therapy does nothing"
5. Can't Afford Therapy? Here Are 5 Low-Cost (or FREE!!) Alternatives to Get You Through
(nour patour)
6. People Who Can't Afford Therapy, What do You do? (r/AskReddit) #shorts
(Reddit Town)


Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Edmund Hettinger DC

Last Updated: 10/09/2023

Views: 5941

Rating: 4.8 / 5 (78 voted)

Reviews: 85% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Edmund Hettinger DC

Birthday: 1994-08-17

Address: 2033 Gerhold Pine, Port Jocelyn, VA 12101-5654

Phone: +8524399971620

Job: Central Manufacturing Supervisor

Hobby: Jogging, Metalworking, Tai chi, Shopping, Puzzles, Rock climbing, Crocheting

Introduction: My name is Edmund Hettinger DC, I am a adventurous, colorful, gifted, determined, precious, open, colorful person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.