What to Do if Therapy is Too Expensive

Prioritizing your mental health care can be life-changing, but the high cost of therapy is an unfortunate barrier for many people seeking help. If you need mental health treatment and support but worry that therapy is too expensive, you should know there are a range of viable solutions that can reduce your therapy cost. 

Continue reading to understand why therapy is expensive for some people and to explore effective strategies and resources that can make getting mental health care more economically feasible.

Why is Therapy Expensive for Some?

Mental healthcare often comes with a cost that deters some people from getting the help they desperately need. Understanding the factors of therapy cost is the first step in ensuring the price you’ll pay for mental health services is within your budget and something you can afford.

Therapist is out-of-network

One of the most significant factors contributing to therapy being too expensive is using an out-of-network therapist. Finding a therapist who aligns with your needs is important, but if they’re not in your insurance plan’s network, you’ll likely be responsible for much higher out-of-pocket expenses than you want — or should — pay for mental health treatment.

Talkspace is the largest in-network provider in the United States, with a diverse network of therapists who can support mental health needs while lowering your total cost of care (since you’re staying in your health insurance company’s network). 

“There are numerous benefits to consulting an in-network psychotherapist. Firstly, in-network therapists often provide services at lower costs due to their negotiated rates with insurance companies. This arrangement benefits clients by making out-of-pocket expenses more affordable. Secondly, in-network therapists offer clients quality assurance, as they must adhere to specific qualifications, licensure, and ethical standards mandated by the network. Lastly, seeing an in-network therapist offers clients access to a diverse range of specialists, facilitating access to therapists with expertise in specific areas.”

– Talkspace therapist, Famous Erwin, LMHC, LPC, LCPC

Lack of insurance coverage

Lack of adequate mental health coverage is another primary reason why affording therapy can be challenging. Even if you don’t have coverage, there are effective ways to get affordable therapy without insurance. 

If you don’t have insurance or if your health insurance company’s plan doesn’t offer enough mental health coverage, the following might help:

Ask about sliding scale fees — A sliding scale therapy structure lets you pay what you can afford, and many therapists today offer them, so it’s definitely worth asking about.

Look into local community health clinics — Some states have federally-funded clinics that provide access to free or low-cost mental health services. 

Find faith-based support groups — Religious support groups often help members of the church by offering things like divorce, addiction, or mental health support. 

Overhead costs factored into the price

A traditional in-person therapy session usually results in the provider incurring overhead costs like renting or leasing office space, paying staff salaries and utilities, and covering the other operational expenses that come with running a business. 

Additional expenses that can drive up the cost might include things like:

Licensure fees

Marketing costs

Liability insurance

Cost of continuing education 

Annual fees for certifications 

Annual fees to maintain membership status in directories

Student loan repayment fees

Unfortunately, most therapists are forced to pass on some of these costs to clients, making per-session fees more expensive. This increased therapy cost can directly affect your ability to seek affordable care, especially if you don’t have insurance

There is an alternative, though. Online therapy leverages technology to drastically reduce therapists’ costs of connecting with clients by eliminating much of their overhead. If you’re concerned about affordability or don’t have insurance, you might want to seek care from an online platform like Talkspace. In most cases, online therapy translates to more affordable care. Additional benefits of online therapy include increased accessibility by reducing geographical barriers, so you can find care regardless of location or schedule.

5 Options if Therapy is Too Expensive for You

The high cost of therapy can result from using an out-of-network provider, not having adequate insurance, or your therapist’s overhead costs increasing session prices. Fortunately, if traditional therapy is too expensive and you’re looking for creative, effective ways to reduce that price tag, you have several options. 

1. Discuss payment options with your therapist

Though often overlooked, talking to your therapist about payment options is always a good idea if you’re struggling financially. Most therapists understand the financial burden mental healthcare can cause, and many offer sliding scale fees based on income. Some even offer flexible payment plans to spread out the economic impact therapy can have on your monthly budget.

Additionally, some therapists have a set number of lower-cost appointments available for clients who need them most, so don’t be afraid to ask about what they’re able to do to help. 

2. Consider online therapy

Online appointments and telehealth have revolutionized the accessibility and affordability of all forms of healthcare. Platforms like Talkspace provide access to licensed, experienced mental health professionals at rates often lower than traditional in-person care costs. 

You don’t have to be concerned about quality of care, either. Research shows that online therapy can be as effective as face-to-face sessions are. You also have the added benefits of convenient, flexible scheduling that works with your availability, no commute time, and the ability to seek care wherever you’re comfortable. 

3. Check your company’s EAP

Many companies today offer Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs). EAPs provide valuable services — like short-term counseling — as an additional perk to comprehensive benefits packages. Services are paid for by companies and offered free of charge to employees. They can provide immediate support to bridge the gap until you find a longer-term solution. 

4. Join a support group

Whether online or in-person, support groups can be financially and therapeutically beneficial. Skilled professionals lead these groups and offer a safe space to share experiences and learn coping techniques with others who understand what you’re going through. 

Support groups work under a premise of confidentiality, so those within the group can be open and honest and get the most out of sessions. According to studies, many people see great benefits from support groups — like feeling less isolated and gaining a better perspective of their experience or condition.      

5. Explore free or self-help resources

There are many free or low-cost self-help resources available that can improve mental health. For example, online tools — like guided meditation exercises, stress management techniques, journaling prompts, mindful deep breathing techniques, and more — can supplement your mental health journey so you get the best results. 

Other self-help tips to improve mental health include:

Working out — It’s well known that exercise can improve mood and reduce stress. If you’re feeling the weight of stress, depression, or anxiety, try getting out for a walk or doing a quick routine that gets the heart rate up. It doesn’t take much to see the benefits. 

Doing yoga — Yoga is proven to reduce stress and anxiety by regulating the sympathetic nervous system, according to research. Just 15 – 20 minutes a day can positively impact mental health and stability.  

Finding a hobby — Doing something you enjoy can give your mind some much-needed time off. Paint, dance, write, build models, garden, bake, cook, or do anything that brings you joy as a way to decompress and reset your emotional state.  

Spending time with loved ones — Meet a friend at a coffee shop or for lunch, plan a shopping day, go for a walk, plan a game night, or do anything that involves spending time with friends or family you trust. 

Taking a “mental health day” — Ask your company if they offer mental health days to help prevent or recover from burnout.   

“Access to free or low-cost self-help resources is essential for individuals who may not have the means to afford such resources but still need support to improve their lives. Some readily available options may include public libraries, nonprofit organizations, and hotlines/helplines.”

– Talkspace therapist, Famous Erwin, LMHC, LPC, LCPC

Is Therapy Worth it Financially?

If you’re considering seeking mental health support, it’s natural to wonder why therapy is so expensive or if the cost is worth it. Most people agree that investing in their mental well-being is priceless and worth the expense. That doesn’t mean you don’t have a right to be concerned, though, especially if you’re struggling financially, don’t have insurance, or are seeking more expensive in-person therapy. Try using the tips and info here to access care when you need it most, at a price you can afford. 

Talkspace makes therapy convenient, accessible, and, importantly, affordable. Our licensed therapists and mental health providers are skilled and ready to help you. Contact Talkspace today to learn more.  


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