Everyone Deserves Help: How To Find Free Counseling Services
The term "counselor" often conjures images of a t-shirt, jeans, and a whistle, as you hearken back to childhood camps, where counselors were teenagers volunteering to herd little children. It might also bring up the image of a high school or college office, a large desk, and questions about your plans and career. The term "counselor" might not bring up anything at all, as therapy and similar services might never have been a part of your life. Counseling was once confined to these schools, churches, and hospitals. Still, counseling and therapy are becoming an increasingly accepted practice, and the stigma that was once attached to needing outside help for life's challenges is no longer as vast as it once was. The price, however, can still be prohibitive. Are there ways to find free counseling services?
Find Safe Therapy
"Free" does not always mean "good." Before leaping to enlist the help of the first free counselor you find, do your research; make sure your state licenses your counselor to practice counseling.
Finding safe therapy also means finding a safe space for your counseling sessions. If you see a therapist in person, you must see them in free space from outside listeners.
Where to Find Free Counseling
While free counseling might seem too good to be true, there are ways to find counseling services free of charge, many of them available right in your town or city.
Check with Your Insurance. If you have insurance, you may be able to receive counseling free of charge. Although many insurance companies require that you pay a co-pay at each counseling session, some do not, particularly if you treat a diagnosed mental disorder, as these sessions are considered preventative or treatment based. Before making an appointment with a local therapy clinic, call your insurance to determine if you would need to provide a co-pay or if your insurance completely covers the cost of counseling.
Check Local Churches. Many clergy programs dictate that you must take some cursory counseling classes to receive a theology degree or similar.
Visit Your School Office. If you attend high school or college, your school may provide counseling services free of charge. These services are not usually offered indefinitely and might have a time frame you can work within or a certain number of sessions you can use. Still, these programs do enlist the help of qualified, trained professionals, so you will receive quality mental health care without having to hand over any of your money.
Check Online Therapy Sites. Many online therapy sites allow you to have one or two free online counseling chats to determine whether you like the therapist or delivery method. Although this is not a long-term solution, it can help you get a feel for whether or not you want to enlist the help of an online therapist, such as those found on ReGain.us. If you do not feel that the two of you mesh during your first (free) session, you can move on to another therapist, to see if your personality meshes well with another practitioner.
Visit the National Alliance on Mental Illness. The local chapter of NAMI might be able to steer you in the direction of free or low-cost mental healthcare.
Call Local Healthcare Clinics. Mental health clinics might also have scholarships of sorts that you can apply to help pay for your mental health services, so make sure to have your information ready when you call, including your name, age, and income level.
Call Local Therapy Offices. Many therapy offices will offer a sliding scale for services when someone does not have insurance, based on income, so check in with the office to determine if you qualify for free or low-cost therapy sessions.
Call A Hotline. Although hotlines are not designed to offer long-standing emotional support and counseling, they can be used in a pinch if you feel completely overwhelmed and in need of some quick, short assistance.
Things to Check
Read the fine print wherever you go, as some places might offer a single free counseling session, provided that you sign up for further sessions.
Everyone Deserves Help
While therapy might seem like a privilege rather than a need, many people need mental health services. Even people without a diagnosed condition need mental health intervention from time to time. Whether you find an in-person therapist who works on a sliding scale, use a free online counseling chat 24/7, or locate a local clinic that offers mental health services free of charge, you can find safe, effective counseling services without a large price tag attached, and improve your mental health today.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Can You Get Free Counseling?
There are several ways that you can get free counseling. First, check with your insurance. Many plans cover mental health counseling, free family counseling, marriage counseling, or individual counseling. Since mental health counseling can be a cost affordable option for many complex mental health problems that would otherwise result in expensive health care solutions, insurance companies often pay all or most of the counseling expenses.
Counseling sessions can offer people counseling resources at a free or low-cost fee. If in-person counseling is not in your budget, online counseling can be a viable and affordable option. Online counseling sessions are an affordable counseling opportunity since there are less overhead and fewer costs for the therapist. Marriage counseling, as well as individual counseling, can be done via online therapy.
Through a counseling center, community counseling is an even cheaper form of counseling since several people participate simultaneously in counseling center services. Some forms of group counseling are conducted as free counseling sessions since they are open to the public.
How Can I Get Counseling Without Insurance?
Many hospitals and counseling centers offer counseling sessions of free counseling services regularly. These counseling sessions can provide family counseling, health counseling, and marriage counseling for free or low-cost.
How Can I Find Inexpensive Therapy?
Online therapy can provide affordable counseling sessions. Some even offer free online therapy for those who need pro-bono help.
While counseling sessions should be valued, as they provide significant help to those who partake, it is possible to find free or low-cost counseling.
How Can I Get Inexpensive Therapy?
Online therapy is the best way to get inexpensive counseling sessions. These counseling services are just as beneficial as in-person sessions, even for marriage counseling; however, they are less expensive.
How Much Does a Therapist Cost Without Insurance?
Counseling services range from $50 to $350 per session. If you are in need of marriage counseling or individual sessions, the cost is the same. Online therapy can be less expensive since there is no rent or overhead costs to contribute to; you are just paying for the services themselves.
How Much Does Counseling Cost?
If you have insurance, you can often get free counseling sessions. Many insurance companies offer free counseling sessions to their subscribers. At most, a nominal copay may be assessed. Online therapy sometimes offers services free of even a copay.
Is Therapy Worth the Money?
Counseling sessions are worth the cost. Many individuals seek out a therapist because they need someone to listen to them. Couples who attend marriage counseling can also see a benefit. Divorce can be expensive, especially if it is long and drawn out. Those who attend marriage counseling can often work out their differences in sessions. Those who still decide to divorce often can do so at less cost as they can go through the process on a more amicable level.
Is Online Therapy Free?
Online therapy resources are often cheaper than in-person sessions. Those who choose to attend marriage counseling through an online platform often find that they can attend counseling cheaper than if they went individually or to a face-to-face therapist.
Are There Any Free Therapy Apps?
Several apps are available for free, and some even offer free sessions. While you may need to try a couple to find one that suits you best, it is a viable option. Additionally, free apps can teach you therapy skills or skills often passed on in therapy, but these apps don't replace licensed therapists. That said, they can be useful, both for people in therapy and those who aren't currently in therapy. CBT apps, in particular, as well as meditation apps, journaling apps, and general mindfulness apps, have become popular in recent years.
How do you get free counseling?
There are several ways to get free or affordable counseling services. Here are some ways to get completely free counseling:
- If you can do so, utilize on-campus university counseling centers. Many colleges have university counseling centers with licensed therapists and counselors that are free to students.
- If you attend a religious institution such as a church, see what they offer.
- If you have a form of insurance like Medicaid, your therapy cost may be covered in full. In this case, you will not have to pay for therapy if you see a provider who takes your insurance. Contact your insurance company to see what they cover in terms of providers and therapy costs.
- See if you are eligible for financial aid, scholarships, or other resources to help you pay for therapy or cover your therapy cost in full.
Is there any free online counseling?
If you have a form of insurance covering your therapy cost in full, you will not have to pay for therapy that's conducted online as long as you see a provider who takes your insurance and offers virtual sessions online. If you are eligible for Medicaid, consider this as an option. Online counseling and online therapy websites are typically more affordable than traditional in-person counseling is without insurance. Some online counseling and online therapy websites offer financial aid, so make sure to consider this an option. With the rise of coaching services, some of which are provided by people who do not have any training and may do more harm than good, it is extremely important to make sure that the provider you see is licensed and that the website you use has licensed professionals. That isn't to say that coaching is always bad. In fact, it can be incredibly helpful, but listen to your gut and know the difference between a coach and a therapist.
What do you do if you can't afford therapy?
There are several free or affordable counseling options to consider. Here are some ways to get free or affordable counseling:
- Utilize on-campus university counseling centers.
- If you attend a religious institution such as a church, see what they offer in free or affordable counseling.
- Consider seeing a counselor or therapist who offers sliding scale rates.
- If applicable, utilize your employee assistance program to pay for therapy or cover a portion of your therapy cost.
- Consider online therapy options such as ReGain, which are typically more affordable than traditional in-person counseling. Note that some online therapy websites offer financial aid.
Besides utilizing the free or affordable counseling options above, you may consider other free forms of support as an add-on to care. Free support groups, for example, can be a great supplement to free or affordable counseling. Note that support groups aren't the same as group therapy. If you're interested in group therapy or counseling, there are free or affordable counseling options for group therapy to consider as well. To find free or affordable counseling options for group therapy, use the methods above, such as conducting an online search or asking your doctor for a referral. Support groups are not always conducted by mental health professionals, where group therapy is. Additionally, support groups are typically used for peer support alone, where group therapy is a form of therapy conducted by licensed therapists who are qualified to teach therapy skills. For example, a DBT group run by a licensed therapist will teach skills such as mindfulness.
How much is counseling per hour?
Your therapy cost or counseling costs will depend on the provider you see and where you see them. Without insurance, counseling or therapy can cost up to around a couple hundred dollars per session. However, if your insurance covers all of your therapy cost or a portion of your therapy cost, you may be able to see a licensed therapist or counselor for free or for as low as a $20 copay per session.
Do I need therapy or counseling?
People benefit from therapy or counseling for a variety of reasons. Here are some reasons people seek therapy or counseling:
- Life stressors, such as those related to work or school.
- Coping with grief or loss.
- Navigating life changes, such as losing a job, job changes, aging, your children moving out, a divorce, or anything else.
- You may address familial issues in individual therapy or family therapy, depending on your needs and your family's needs.
- Premarital counseling, which many couples seek before getting married. Statistics on premarital counseling show that premarital counseling helps couples more likely to stay together after marriage than couples who did not seek premarital counseling.
- Concerns related to intimacy or relationships, whether or not you are coupled. For example, if you are struggling with an anxious attachment style or have trauma from past relationships, you may benefit from therapy or counseling.
- Traumatic events.
- Couples counseling or marriage counseling can help married or unmarried couples who have been together for any length of time with various concerns, including intimacy, increasing affection in the relationship, working through concerns related to parenting or other aspects of the relationship, and so on.
- Parenting concerns, whether or not you are coupled.
- Mental health conditions, such as anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, PTSD, schizophrenia, personality disorders, eating disorders, and more.
If you are going through any of the above, or if you want to talk to someone or seek help in navigating anything else that's going on in your life, counseling or therapy is likely a great fit for you. Everyone needs someone to talk to sometimes, and everyone can benefit from therapy or therapy skills. If you are struggling to pay for therapy and think that you may benefit from seeing a counselor or therapist, whether that is for individual therapy, group therapy, family therapy, or couples counseling, use the options in the article and frequently asked questions above to help yourself cover therapy costs and pay for therapy.