Therapy is a form of health care that helps people overcome mental disorders and problematic behaviors. The therapy process is done through open communication and skill building with a qualified mental health professional who aids in working through the symptoms and sources of mental disorders or distress.
The Rising Need for Mental Health Care
According to reports, the mental health care budget in the United States reached roughly $225.1 billion in 2019, which accounts for over 5% of all health care spending in the country. That overall spending doubled since 2009. Since spending has increased, the long-held notion that therapy is too expensive or inaccessible is slowly becoming a thing of the past.
There is still work to be done to make therapy available to everyone, although there are ways that you can find therapy on a budget. Read on to find out more about the types of therapies available and how much they cost.
Types of Therapy
Several therapy approaches are designed to treat various disorders, such as depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, personality disorders, and more. Five of these types of therapy include:
- psychoanalysis: Also known as psychoanalytic (psychodynamic) psychotherapy focuses on the examination of unconscious patterns in a person’s life that may affect how they feel or act.
- Behavior therapy: Behavior therapy works through the examination of observable behaviors and utilizing different reinforcement techniques to help people change unhealthy behaviors and replace them with healthy ones.
- Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT): CBT is an extension of behavioral therapy and focuses on how a person’s thoughts impact feelings and behaviors. The overall goal is to identify dysfunctional thoughts and behaviors in an attempt to promote a healthier response to life events.
- Humanistic therapy: Humanistic therapy is an approach that looks at the person as an individual and whole person. Therapists examine a person’s choices and behavior to help them recognize unhealthy areas of their lives to encourage personal evolution.
- integrative therapy: Integrative therapy uses more than one type of approach to promote healing.
Subtypes of Psychotherapy
There are many other types of therapies that may be thought of as falling under these categories. For example, art therapy is an approach that may be thought of as falling under integrative therapy, whereas mindfulness-based therapies may fall under cognitive behavioral therapy. Each subtype may or may not be utilized when a person has sought out a specific type of counseling.
How Much Does Therapy Cost?
The cost of therapy ranges significantly depending on the type of therapy you need, your personal insurance plan, and your location.
Average Cost of Therapy
Better Help, an online platform that connects people to qualified therapists, charges anywhere from $60 to $90 per session. It is important to remember that this is an online platform, and so it falls on the more inexpensive end of the spectrum.
Good Therapy, an online resource that helps people find the right therapist for them, has reported that people could spend as much as $250 dollars without insurance for a single therapy session.
Can I Find Free Therapy?
In some cases, free or discounted therapy is available. For example, the National Association for Free and Charitable Clinics offers people in need of therapy low-cost or free care. Free therapy can also be sought by contacting your state’s public or community health department for referrals to free therapy services.
Does Insurance Cover Therapy?
Most insurance plans have to cover mental health care as per legislation outlined in the Affordable Care Act. That means that no matter what type of health insurance you have, at least some of the cost of therapy should be covered.
In some cases, there will be a copay involved, which means that you will have to pay for some of the therapy sessions but not the full amount. Your copay will largely depend on your insurance coverage and the cost of the therapy session itself.
For example, you may find a therapist that charges $100 per session but has a $50 copay. If that is the case, half the cost will be covered by your insurer with the other half being your responsibility.
In many instances, insurance companies are also not allowed to limit how many sessions you have in a calendar year, although they may reserve the right to ask for a re-evaluation to ensure what they consider “medical necessity.”
Insurance plans also often come with deductibles, which is the amount of money you have to pay out of your pocket prior to your coverage starting. These deductibles range significantly.
Do All Therapists Accept Insurance?
One of the biggest hurdles for mental health care is finding a therapist who will accept your insurance. Studies have found that just over half of psychiatrists will accept insurance.
Factors That Influence Cost
Many factors go into how much therapy costs. For example, the healthcare provider, location, and delivery of the therapy all play a role in the costs.
virtual vs. In Person
If therapy is sought online, it may be cheaper than in-person sessions. This is likely due to the fact that fewer overhead costs are involved in these types of sessions.
As mentioned above, Better Help charges only $60 to $90 per online session. There are various other online therapy options, all of which will have different costs.
Is Online Therapy Effective?
Many people may be wary of online therapy and whether or not it is effective. That being said, research has shown that online therapy can be as effective as in-person sessions for many people living with mental health disorders or experiencing psychological distress.
Certain specializations may cost more than others because of the amount of training a psychotherapist must complete to be certified to deal with specific issues. There are also different types of therapists available.
For example, a psychiatrist can provide therapy, but they are going to cost more than a social worker who can also provide counseling services. This is because, although they both offer therapy, they may differ in terms of experience, training, and specialization.
Number of Sessions
The number of sessions you need raises the cost. However, certain conditions or distress may only require a few sessions, and it will cost far less than if you were to be suffering from a condition that requires or would benefit from more extensive and long-term therapy.
Making Mental Health Care More Accessible
Having insurance companies cover more mental health care costs not only benefits people but also the overall cost of health care in society as a whole. In addition, research shows that access to psychotherapy can lead to savings in health care costs and future disability claims.
How to Find Affordable Therapy
Finding affordable therapy can be done if you know where to look. The steps you can take to find affordable therapy are:
- Check your insurance plan: If you have insurance coverage, find out how much you are covered for, which psychotherapy providers are approved, and how much your copay and deductibles are. This will give you a good starting point for knowing how much you will need to afford therapy sessions.
- Inquire about free or low-cost therapy: There may be free or low-cost clinics available. You can search for these mental healthcare providers by contacting your state’s public or community health department for a referral. Another option for free or low-cost therapy is going to a university health clinic. Many universities offer free or low-cost therapy led by therapists in training.
- Explore online therapy options: Online therapy is more cost-effective than in-person therapy, so it could be a good option for someone who does not have insurance or access to in-person treatment that falls within their budget.
Sliding Scale Therapy
Sliding-scale therapy is a fee structure that is used by therapists as a way to mitigate the costs for those who cannot afford it. The amount that is paid for each session is based on a person’s income.
Many therapists do this, so if you find one that you like, you can ask about sliding scale fee options.
Local Mental Health Clinics
Some local mental health clinics, as mentioned above, may offer free or low-cost therapy. These clinics can include public health clinics and universities that offer care given by individuals that are training to become licensed therapists.
Support groups are another great way to participate in therapy without having to pay the full cost of a session. Group therapy or support groups may be completely free or cost as little as a third of what it would typically cost for individualized therapy.
Many people believe that therapy is too expensive or inaccessible; however, that is not always the case. While individual therapy sessions can cost upwards of $250, there are options to seek more affordable therapy. For example, online therapy sessions cost a fraction of that at roughly $60 to $90 per session.
Some healthcare providers may offer a sliding scale fee structure based on income. Other low-cost or free therapy options include support groups, local government-run public health clinics, and university healthcare providers still in training.
A Word From Verywell
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, more than 51 million people suffer from mental illness. Because of this, therapy is becoming more and more important.
You can’t let the cost associated with mental health care stop you from trying to get therapy. Taking care of your mind is vital to your overall health and life satisfaction. While some mental healthcare providers cost far too much for many people, there are other ways to seek out the therapy you need at a price point that works for you.
Frequently Asked Questions
Are there ways to get free therapy?
There are options for people looking to get free therapy. For example, public health organizations may offer free or low-cost medical care to those who may not have insurance or cannot afford it.
Can therapy sessions be done over the phone?
Phone therapy is an option for some, especially through certain online therapy platforms. For example, websites such as Better Help provide online therapy that can be done via video chat, phone call, live chatting, or messaging.
How often should you go to therapy?
Typically, seeing a therapist should be done once a week. This is especially true during the beginning of your treatment. As time goes on, the frequency may change in duration depending on your needs.
What are the benefits of seeing a therapist?
Seeing a therapist can help you cope with mental disorders and emotional distress in a healthier way. The benefits that you will get out of therapy will depend on the nature of your issues, the type of therapy, and your relationship with your therapist.