Updated: Apr 25, 2020
There’s no getting around the fact that therapy can be expensive. Sure, you may pay less than you would for a hair cut and colour or just a little more than you would for a massage, but most people don’t get their hair cut as often as they’re likely to go to therapy. I mean a dye job lasts what, six weeks? And most people see their counselors about four times a month.
I've had a similar experience with therapy. After I became an adult I had difficulty why therapy was so expensive and why you have a budget for therapist expenses. The reality is that therapy can be quite expensive, especially in a major city like London. You're worried about affording rent, groceries, and paying utility bills and now you have to think about how to find a therapist that fits into your budget. There are affordable therapists out there, but they are extremely hard to find.
I still don't understand this. I've pondered it for a long time, and I've come up with this: helping people with their problems is emotionally draining. Therapists tend to be empathetic people (one would hope) and their emotional filters fill up quickly. They have to be able to handle a lot of people's problems. It has to be a taxing job and therefore they should be compensated for it. That's one reason therapy could be expensive.
Another reason is that there are only so many hours in a day for therapists to see patients. Therefore, their income is somewhat limited. They at least need to pay for their office space let alone make a decent income. There is an enormous amount of paperwork that therapists have to complete, which takes up time.
Regardless of the reason that therapy is expensive, the fact that it is cost prohibitive can be detrimental to people with mental health issues. In other words, it's hard to get help when you need it.
How can we make therapy more affordable?
One thing that comes to mind is affordable low-cost therapy clinics. There is CBT and counselling available through your GP which is completely free, the only downside is, is that you will have to go on a waitlist which on average is around 6-8 weeks long. There are also charitable organisations that provide long term therapy at a lower rate, similar to low cost therapy. I have provided the details for such organisations below.
I will continue to ponder why therapy is as expensive as it is. In the mean time, I'll offer you this hopeful statement: I found a therapist who takes insurance. It was a hard thing to find, but I found her and she is an expert at EMDR, which is used to treat PTSD.
Ways to Make Therapy Less Expensive
If you’ve researched the cost of therapy, and you still feel it’s too expensive, the good news is there are several ways to reduce the cost of treatment. These include:
Adjusting the frequency and duration of sessions
Some therapists and treatment centers offer a sliding scale for therapy services. This means that the fee for treatment is adjusted based on need and ability to pay. When you’re doing your research to select a therapist, ask if they offer a sliding scale. This reduces the cost per session and lessens the overall cost of treatment.
Adjusting the Frequency and Duration of Sessions
When we think of therapy, we often think of a weekly 50 minute session. However, if you’re seeking help but concerned about the expense, there are other options. Since there’s no evidence that less frequent meetings are any less effective, many patients choose to meet every other week to lower the cost of treatment. If you’re willing to work hard in between sessions and follow the homework your therapist assigns, this can be an excellent option to cut the expense associated with therapy. In addition, while exposure therapy sessions often require adequate time for habituation to occur, you can discuss the possibility of shorter sessions with your therapist to reduce the fee per session.
Another way to reduce the expense of treatment is to seek help from a center that provides training to psychology/ counselling students. These sites often offer reduced fees if you’re treated by a student. If the student is being closely supervised by a professional who is an expert, the treatment you receive can be highly effective at a reduced fee.
Another option to reduce the cost of treatment is to consider a group program. These are often conducted in a more intensive format. This means that the sessions are frequently longer (1.5-2 hours) but the overall cost may be less since it is in a group setting.
If you're looking for a therapist who you can afford, don't give up. There are people who work on a sliding scale and even those who take insurance.
How about you? Do you find therapy unaffordable or are you seeing a therapist who fits into your budget?