Seven Options For Low-Cost Counseling

Medically reviewed by Karen Foster, LPC
Updated November 13, 2023by Regain Editorial Team

If you’re like most people, you likely don’t think of low-cost when you think of counseling. People often assume counseling is an expensive service. This belief can get in the way of many people getting the help that they need and deserve. However, there can be plenty of options for low-cost counseling, including counseling through religious organizations, colleges, local nonprofits, sliding scale providers, health clinics, support groups, and online therapy platforms.

How Much Does Counseling Cost?

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The cost of counseling often varies based on what type of mental health professional you’re working with, as well as what area you live in. It can also vary based on the credentials of the individual you’re meeting with and what funding options you have.

The average cost of therapy typically ranges from $60 to $120 for every session. Depending on the area you’re in, it could be as high as $250 for every hour.

Before you start looking at options for low-cost counseling, the best thing you can do may be to check with your health insurance company. Many health insurance companies are required to provide some coverage for mental health services. 

It can be important to understand what type of coverage you have for the services because, in many cases, there are strict requirements and limitations. For example, you may only be covered for a certain number of sessions or for a certain dollar amount. 

It can also be crucial that you find a mental health professional who will accept your health insurance. This is becoming increasingly more difficult for many because some mental health professionals choose not to work with insurance companies. Therefore, finding a low-cost counseling option can be important.

Low-Cost Counseling Options

Just because something is low-cost does not necessarily mean that it’s not going to be effective. Some people may believe that if they’re able to get counseling for free, it means that they’re not going to be working with professionals who know and understand what they’re talking about. But this is not always the case. There are some great low-cost options for counseling that you can consider, including the following:

1. Churches And Religious Organizations

If you attend a church or a different religious organization, you may receive counseling through the organization. However, there can be some important things to consider.

The first is generally to find out what type of experience the counseling provider has. You might find out what credentials they have for the type of counseling that you need. It may be that they can listen and offer support, but they may not know what the best treatment option for you would be. For example, if you’re having difficulty with a mental health diagnosis, this type of counseling may not be your best option.

You may also wish to find out what type of cost is involved for this type of counseling. Many times, religious organizations offer counseling for free, but this may not always be the case.

2. Colleges Or Universities

There may be free or low-cost counseling options available for you on campus if you’re a college student. Colleges and universities tend to know that the transition into the college years can be very difficult for students. Therefore, they usually make efforts to provide them with the help that they need.

This can be a great place for you to find support and learn important coping strategies for the situation you’re experiencing.

3. Local Nonprofits

Depending on the exact situation you’re experiencing and why you’re looking for therapy, there could be a local nonprofit that offers a solution for you.

An example of this may be hospice. While the organization is normally most well-known for its care of terminally ill patients, that’s not all they usually do. They may also provide grief counseling for a little over a year for families who have lost someone in hospice care.

Other nonprofits may offer counseling options, as well. If you’re living with mental health challenges because of an abusive relationship, you can look for a local nonprofit specializing in that area. If they don’t offer affordable counseling themselves, they will most likely be able to point you in the right direction.

4. Sliding Scale Professionals

Therapists normally do the job that they do because they want to help people. They usually understand that not everyone has health insurance that provides them coverage. Therefore, many therapists work with a sliding scale. You can easily find affordable offers by checking Google for "sliding scale therapy near me."

A sliding scale generally means that the therapist adjusts the price of their session based on your income. This can allow those who don’t make as much money to pay a smaller fee for counseling than those who make more. 

5. Health Clinics

You can also check your area for a local health clinic.  This can be a great option if you have a low budget but live with a mental health challenge that requires you to have prescription medication. To get medication, there are usually only certain professionals you can work with, such as psychiatrists and physicians.

Even if you can get affordable counseling through another option on this list, you may still need to visit the health clinic to have an affordable way to get the medication you may need.

6. Support Groups

There are often many different types of support groups that you can use for therapy. However, you’re generally going to want to find out what the group’s details are before you get started. Some of these groups are led by the therapist, while others aren’t. You may need to understand what you’re looking for out of your therapy to make sure that a group is a good fit for you.

Support groups can be very beneficial because it’s usually helpful to hear that other people also go through similar situations and can understand what you’re talking about. You can also learn strategies that others have used to find success with the same problems you’re experiencing.

7. Online Counseling

These services are often more affordable than what you would have if you met in person, face-to-face with a therapist. Other benefits can come along with online counseling as well, such as being able to meet with a licensed therapist from the comfort of your own house. This can remove some of the fear from the situation for people who have never met with a therapist before.

How To Find Affordable Counseling

Getty/Vadym Pastukh
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There are often many options for low-cost counseling if you know where to look. You can start by trying a simple search online to see what options are available in your area. If you’re not interested in seeing someone in person, you can search to see what’s available online.

It can also help to ask people you know personally if they have any recommendations for low-cost counseling. They may know of a support group or nonprofit organization that will be able to help you.

If you’re unable to find something in your area, remember that online counseling can be a great option.

Get The Help That You Deserve

Online counseling through an online therapy platform can offer you the help you deserve at an affordable price. Another potential benefit of online therapy can be the ease of switching therapists as needed until you find one you’re able to connect with.

According to a study, online therapy and in-person therapy generally have the same rates of efficacy, meaning that either one can be a valid and beneficial option for those who wish to improve their mental health.


Many people find it challenging to get affordable mental health help, but there can be many options available. For instance, you may be able to get counseling for free or at a low cost through religious organizations, health clinics, local nonprofits, colleges, support groups, sliding scale providers, and online therapy platforms.

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