Wednesday, October 2, 2019

I Can't Afford Therapy, Now What?

One reason many people do not seek mental health counseling is they feel that it is outside of their budget. After all, sessions may be $100/hr if not more. So what are you to do? Here are a few options for non-emergency cases. If you are having thoughts about harming yourself or others please seek assistance immediately. Referrals can be made to affordable options.

Call your insurance. Something I would tell clients to do is to call their insurance for a list of in-network providers. Oftentimes insurance will either cover sessions completely, or offer a discounted rate (co-pay). You may need to read the fine print. See what providers are covered by your insurance if therapy is not specifically mentioned, such as a social worker or other provider. 

Schedule with a community behavioral health center. I worked with community behavioral health centers as a clinical social worker, and we had many low cost options for clients. Often Medicaid covered services, and we offered sliding fee scales for those in need of a discounted rate. Many cities have such centers and can be found online easily. If they are not accepting clients at this time ask for a referral to another agency. We had many agencies we worked with in the field and could make recommendations for people with specific needs. 

Attend support groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, or other groups in your community. These moderated support groups will help you connect with others who are going through something similar. Learn more about groups in your area by visiting NAMI or the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance as well as the links above. 

Meet with a spiritual adviser. While not a replacement for therapy, talking with a preacher, pastor, or priest may bring some comfort. Moreover many congregations have partnerships with community behavioral health centers and can make referrals. I worked with Catholic Charities, and we had a wonderful relationship with congregations throughout our diocese. 

Talk with your school counselor. Clinical work is certainly not their focus, but I have known school counselors to make referrals and help parents find treatment for their children. If you have a great relationship with your school counselor start there. 

Take a look at your budget. Consider your budget and see if you can move some things around, or if you can save elsewhere. Mental health affects all aspects of life and if you feel you need to see someone or continue already helpful services, then it may be beneficial to re-evaluate expenses. 

I personally caution against self-help books and websites only because information can be taken out of context or may not be written by a trained mental health professional. If you enjoy reading them and they seem to benefit you, great, but they are not the same as tailored treatment by a social worker, counselor, LMFT, or doctor. If you are unable to continue meeting with a professional ask them for any recommendations they may have for podcasts, websites, or literature about what you would like to work on. 

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