How to Save Money on Therapy


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Deciding to start therapy is a wonderful and brave first step. Unfortunately, many people find that once they start looking for therapy options, many are simply unaffordable. This is a common problem, and can make the task of entering therapy that much more stressful.

Thankfully, there are quite a few ways to find more affordable therapy and even free options in some cases. Read on for more information for some tips on how to save money on therapy.

The Cost of Therapy Is a Common Barrier

In any given year, millions of Americans are impacted by mental health challenges. One in five people experiences a mental health issue each year, with 1 in 20 people experiencing a severe mental health condition. Mental health issues don’t just affect adults either—each year, 1 in 6 kids aged 6-17 experience a mental health issue.

50% of People Don't Get Treatment

Unfortunately, about 50% of people who experience mental illness don’t get the treatment that they need. There are many reasons for this—including the stigma surrounding going to therapy, being uninformed of mental health care available to you, and living too far from a mental health professional or facility.

Cost Is the Number One Reason People Don't Attend Therapy

According to a 2021 study published in SSM - Population Health, the number one reason why people don’t enter therapy, even when they believe that they should, is an inability to afford it.

Statistics from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration report similar findings. Their 2018 data found that a whopping 39% of people cite affordability as the reason they can’t go to therapy. This was the number one reason given for not going to therapy and ranked even higher than believing that you can solve a mental health problem on your own, or not having time for therapy.

Tips for Saving Money on Therapy

Starting the search for more affordable therapy can be daunting. That’s understandable! That’s why it’s best to take this step by step. Let’s break down your options.

Start By Calling Your Health Insurance Company

If you have health insurance, the first thing to do is to contact your health insurance company. It’s best to call your carrier directly rather than searching for information online, especially since policies often change, and are very specific to the exact type of insurance you have through a particular company. Your insurance company may also be able to provide you with a list of in-network therapists.

Some insurance companies do cover therapy, but may only cover a certain number of sessions. Others may not cover many therapists in your area or any therapists that you are interested in. However, you may be surprised that your insurance has pretty decent therapy coverage. That’s why you should start by calling your insurance carrier for more information.

Frustratingly, some insurance companies don’t cover therapy at all, or their coverage is so limited that it can’t help you. That can be very frustrating and distressing. But you should know that there are still budget-friendly options out there for you.

Cost-Saving Options

About 11% of adults with mental health conditions don’t have health insurance. But even if you have health insurance, it can be difficult to find a provider who is in-network with your plan, has the expertise that you need, and has availability in your schedule to see you. The good news is that there are quite a few budget-friendly options out there:

  • Training clinics
  • Low-cost clinics
  • Sliding scales
  • Online therapy

Find a Training Clinic

As part of their training to become therapists, student therapists have to put in practice hours. Contacting a university or therapist training center and asking for a therapist-in-training is a low-cost way to receive therapy.

Therapists in Training Are Supervised

While it’s true that student therapists don’t have as much experience as others, they are highly trained and are supervised by an experienced instructor, so you will be getting quality services.

Look Into Lower Cost Clinics

Therapists in private practice usually charge higher rates than therapists or counselors who work for institutions or clinics. Some of these clinics are federally funded and offer low cost or free therapy to people in need. Others are financially backed by charities or non-profits so that care can be given to people of all economic backgrounds.

Some ways to connect with low-cost clinics include:

Ask About Sliding Scales

Many therapists will offer sliding scale fees for their services, meaning that they will offer their services at reduced rates for certain individuals.

Explain Your Financial Situation

Sometimes a therapist will ask you to provide proof of financial hardship, such as Medicaid cards or other forms of government assistance. Other times, you can discuss your particular financial situation with them and they will let you know if they can offer you a reduced rate. It never hurts to ask!

You can also search for therapists who offer slide scales or lower costs services. Some places to look include:

Consider Online Therapy

Online therapy is becoming a popular option for many people, because it means being able to connect to a therapist without leaving your home. This can be a good option for people who have trouble finding time to see a therapist, or who don’t have many therapists available in their geographic area. Online therapy is often less expensive than in-person therapy as well.

Free Options

If you can’t afford low-cost therapy, you don’t have to give up. There are several free options that you should be aware of.

Online Support Groups

There are many online support groups and forums that you may find helpful. You can search for groups that are specific to whatever mental health conditions you are struggling with and get support from people who share your challenges.


One word of caution: most online forums are not monitored by mental health professionals, so it’s important to take the advice offered in these forums as they were intended, keeping in mind that advice from peers is different from advice from trained professionals.

Religious Counsel

If you are religious or open to religious counsel, you can visit your place of worship and ask to speak to a clergyperson. They may be able to help you and can provide a safe space for you to share your feelings. They may also be able to connect you with a free therapist or counselor. You can also try the American Association of Pastoral Counselors to find a clergyperson who is trained in counseling.

Support Organizations

Many support organizations targeted toward specific demographics offer free counseling to anyone in need. For example, Give an Hour is an organization that offers free counseling to veterans and their families affected by tragedies, such as natural disasters.

The Trevor Project is an organization that supports LGBGTQ+ youth and offers free online chat, texting, and phone counseling to young people in need.

A Word From Verywell

It’s difficult enough living with a mental health condition. Not being able to afford therapy is an unfair added stress that no one should be burdened with. There are many resources out there to help you find an affordable solution, so that you can get the care you need and deserve. If looking into these options is overwhelming, consider asking a trusted loved one to help you on your search. You don’t have to do this alone.

6 Sources
Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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  2. National Alliance on Mental Illness. Mental Health By the Numbers.

  3. National Alliance on Mental Illness. The Doctor is Out.

  4. Muhorakeye O, Biracyaza E. Exploring Barriers to Mental Health Services Utilization at Kabutare District Hospital of Rwanda: Perspectives From Patients. Frontiers in Psychology. 2021;12:638377. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2021.638377

  5. Conroy J, Lin L, Ghaness A. Why people aren't getting the care they need. Monitor on Psychology. 2020;51(5):21.

  6. Lee J. Strategies to Afford Mental Health Treatment. National Alliance on Mental Illness.

By Wendy Wisner
Wendy Wisner is a health and parenting writer, lactation consultant (IBCLC), and mom to two awesome sons.