Karen Caldwell is a Certified Rehabilitation Counselor, Licensed Professional Counselor, and International Psychometric Evaluator who provides mental health services as well as resources on her website, mentalbliss.org. She was kind enough to offer to share her writing with me. KC is raising money to provide free therapy sessions, and you can donate here!
This post is from her mental health blog and was originally shared in November 2020.
Cost is a barrier for millions of people who are seeking therapy. The national average of a typical therapy session in the United States is about $75.00 – $200.00 per hour. This average does not account for major cities like San Francisco, CA and New York City, NY, which averages up to $250.00 per hour for psychotherapy sessions. To assist you with researching alternative therapy options, I identified 6 different strategies you can implement to think outside the box for therapy and secure free and/or low-cost mental health services. Let’s start with #1.
1. Double Check Your Health Insurance Benefits: Some employers offer Employee Assistance Programs (EAP), which are short-term benefits for things like behavioral healthcare, legal counsel and financial assistance. Contact your HR department at your job and ask about EAP. If your job does not offer EAP, they may have a community referral for you.
2. Community Mental Health Agencies in Your County: Community mental health agencies are housed in many counties throughout the nation. They are usually not-for-profit organizations, and they offer low cost and/or sliding scale mental health services. Community mental health agencies also provide case management services for food, housing, transportation, employment, legal and food needs.
3. Support Groups: Support groups alleviate the cost for individual therapy sessions that we discussed earlier. When you receive support within a group, you are allowing yourself to heal out loud. Support groups further allow us to process our trauma with people who have similar experiences. People tend to overlook support groups, but they are very beneficial for those who need social support. Add the low cost of entry for support groups and this strategy is ideal for just about anyone. Many private therapists and community agencies offer support groups.
4. Local Colleges and Teaching Institutions: Seeking mental health services from local colleges and teaching institutions is definitely thinking outside the box! Essentially, you are killing two birds with one stone because mental health services from these areas will be the best service at a reduced rate. Why? Because students are eager to gain hands on experience and clients are happier paying for behavioral health services at a reduced rate. I’m sure you have a local college and/or teaching institution nearby. Tap into their resources and report back with updates.
5. Pro Bono Slots: There are therapists who reserve 1 or 2 slots per month for pro bono clients. I am one of those therapists. Yes, there are other therapists who provide pro bono services as well, but you would never know unless you asked. With that being said, have the courage to ask potential therapists if they provide pro bono services. The worst thing they can say is no. Even if the answer is no, the therapist may provide you with a referral.
6. Vent – Express Your Feelings: Vent – Express Your Feelings is a mental health app that encourages individuals to express how they really feel. The app includes a community that provides support. Groups are offered to connect with other people that share similar interests. Vent offers 24/7 support and the premium subscription includes a 7-day free trial.
Like any other expense, therapy can get costly if we are not intentional about budgeting for it. The good news is that there are options available for free and/or low cost mental health services. All it takes is for you to think outside the box for therapy.