How To Find A Psychologist That's Affordable
By: Stephanie Kirby
Updated May 27, 2021
Medically Reviewed By: Karen Devlin, LPC
If you're interested in attending therapy and concerned about the cost, you're not alone. According to a poll by the American Psychological Association, "87 percent of those polled pointed to lack of insurance coverage as a barrier to seeking treatment, and 81 percent pointed to cost concerns." Many people are wondering how to find an affordable psychologist. With this concern in mind, some options are worth pursuing.
What Are The Obstacles To Affordable Mental Health Services?
It's not that mental health services aren't affordable for those living below the poverty level. The cost of meeting with a psychologist can run anywhere from $75 to $200 per session. That might not seem too bad if you only think of one session. But what if you could benefit from months of weekly sessions? The cost adds up fast.
Here are a couple of the reasons why mental health service isn't always affordable:
Health insurance companies and psychologists aren't working together
Most people think it's affordable to go to the doctor if they have a sinus infection or earache because they have health insurance. Depending on the type of insurance you have, the company may cover some or all of the costs you would have had to pay out of your pocket.
But the same isn't generally true for mental health services. While the Affordable Care Act (ACA) did address some of the problems with the availability and coverage of therapy, it didn't solve the problem completely. Instead of having good mental health services, many people have poor coverage for all health services.
Health insurance providers aren't willing to pay therapists what they're looking for, which means fewer psychologists are willing to work with your insurance company. This means that even if you have health insurance, there is a chance that you're not going to be able to use it with a psychologist.
A few ways that the area you live in can impact your ability to find affordable healthcare. For example, a recent report found that therapy rates vary from state to state. It ranges from $100 to $200 per session. That means if you live in one of the states on the higher end, it's going to be hard to find a more affordable psychologist. Even in the states that are on the lower end of the rate spectrum, it could be difficult for you to find something more affordable than the average.
Understand Your Health Insurance
If you have health insurance, they most likely offer some coverage for mental health services. As mentioned above, the ACA has made it so mental health services receive the same coverage as surgery and general health care. If you have good coverage with things like a doctor's appointment, you will most likely have the same mental health services coverage.
Ensuring that you understand your health insurance coverage can go a long way in reducing your care cost. If you have coverage but accidentally work with a psychologist that isn't covered by your insurance plan, then you're going to end up paying out of pocket.
Look For A Psychologist With A Sliding Scale Fee
Psychologists help to make their services more affordable for patients by offering a fee on a sliding scale. If you can't afford their per session price, they can adjust the price based on your income. This can help lower the session price, so it's easier for you to afford.
When looking for a psychologist, this should be just one thing you consider before choosing to work together. Just because a psychologist is affordable with a sliding scale fee does not mean that they are a good fit for you. There are times when it could be beneficial to you to pay a higher price to work with a psychologist who's a good fit.
Some Psychologists Lead Support Groups
Depending on what mental health challenges or disorder you're dealing with, there could be a support group that would work for you. When looking for a support group, it's important to look into who leads the group and how it runs. A psychologist leads not all groups. However, some groups are.
Meeting with a psychologist-led support group gives you the benefit of having professional advice and interacting with others that are going through the same thing as you. This can be reassuring to find out that you're not alone. It can also help bounce ideas off of others and hear how the strategies are working in their lives.
Find A Mental Health Clinic
Most areas have a mental health clinic that offers low-cost services. If you're going to use a clinic, it's important to understand how they work. Some will allow you to make appointments, but they may not be open the same hours a psychologist would. You can find a mental health clinic near you with a simple online search.
Look for a specific answer for the issue you're dealing with
It could be that you don't need to work with a psychologist. Often, this is the professional that we think of first when we think of going to therapy, but there are other options. And some of these options can be more affordable.
Your first step is to determine why you want to meet with a psychologist. Then you can look at all the alternatives for your specific situation. For example, if you struggle with a substance abuse disorder, there may be a support group you can join that can help lead you to recovery even if a psychologist does not lead it. There may be a call center for your specific challenge that can point you in the direction of the right resources that could help you.
Work With A New Professional
Another option for an affordable psychologist is to find someone that's just finishing up with school. Just because someone is new does not mean that they aren't going to help you just as well as a seasoned professional. And, they may even be a better fit for you because they're new to the career and are excited to get started.
These psychologists are generally working under the direction of an experienced psychologist. That means even though you're meeting with someone that's just getting started, they can get the advice and direction of someone with more experience. The best part for you is that the cost of working with them is usually less than working with someone with years of experience.
Try Online Therapy
Like that offered on Regain, online therapy allows you to work with a therapist from the comfort of your own home. You don't have to take time out of your day to drive back and forth from appointments. It can be a great way to save money while still having access to an experienced psychologist.
You must look into the cost options to make sure you understand how much you're paying and if it's a monthly fee or a fee for every time you have an appointment. When you understand the fee structure, you will compare the costs to that of in-person therapy. Then you'll know if and how much you'll be saving.
However, remember that online therapy can save you money in other ways as well. For example, if you have children and must pay for a babysitter to go to your counseling sessions, the cost can add up. If you have to take time off of work, it can cost you in used personal time or lower your day's amount.
Think Of The Value
It's easy to get hung up on the cost of meeting with a psychologist. It's money that you would rather spend on something else. However, the benefits of counseling far outweigh how much you spend on your sessions.
Instead of thinking about how much therapy will cost you, think about what not going to therapy will cost you. If you have a mental health challenge that's getting in the way of your daily life activities, relationships, or impacting your feelings and behaviors, getting help will allow you to overcome it. Choosing to continue struggling to get by to save a few dollars will cost you in the long run in both your health and happiness.
So, while the strategies above can help you find more affordable therapy, make sure that you're not delaying getting the help you need just because you don't want to spend the money. It's well worth it in the end.
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