If you’re looking for a therapist and you don’t have healthcare coverage, you might be wondering just how much therapy costs without insurance. You’ve probably heard about therapists charging a month’s rent for 45 minutes, or read promises of accessible online therapy only to find out the pricing model is overly complicated.
The truth is: getting help with your mental health is harder than it should be. First, there’s the decision to seek help in the first place, and then there’s the logistical and emotional work of finding a provider who’s a good fit for your needs — and has room for you.
Then you have to figure out the money side. If you have health insurance, your therapist may not take it up-front, leaving you to try to claim reimbursement, and even though insurance carriers are required to cover some portion of mental health services, the amount they’ll actually pay varies widely. It’s often easier (if you can afford it) to pay out of pocket and skip all the paperwork.
Of course, if you don’t have insurance coverage, out-of-pocket affordability becomes even more important. So here’s a breakdown of average therapy costs in the U.S., to help you decide on the right path.
How much does therapy cost without insurance?
The answer to this question, like so many therapy-related questions, is ‘it depends.’ The cost of therapy depends on the type of therapist you’re seeing, what their credentials are, what kind of practice or organization they belong to, the model of care they use, where they’re located, and the number of sessions you need — among other things.
To get us started, let’s talk about private practice therapy. This is what most of us think of when we imagine therapy: a licensed counselor with a framed diploma on the wall, talking to a patient one-on-one in a comfortable, quiet office for anywhere from 45 to 55 minutes. The cost of this kind of therapy is mostly dependent on two things: the location where it takes place and the therapist’s credentials and experience.
Location matters, sometimes a lot. The nationwide average cost for a session with a private practice therapist is between $100 and $200, but if you live in a major city you can expect to pay more like $250 or $300 per session. And mental health professionals with a lot of experience or particularly impressive credentials often charge more, as much as $500 per session!
Of course, some of these providers will offer sliding scale therapy, meaning they’ll adjust the price down according to your income level, so it’s always worth asking. But overall private practice is the most expensive type of therapy.
There are also clinics and health centers in many cities that offer lower-cost therapy, either through facilitated support groups or one-on-one sessions with student counselors or social workers who are supervised by professionals.
These kinds of providers cost significantly less than private practice — some are even free — but it can be difficult to get a spot, and turnover is common, as students move on. Still, it’s a great option if you can find a good clinic in your area. Even outside the low-cost clinic settings, group sessions are often a more affordable option as well, costing as little as $40 or $50 per hour.
Then there are the many online therapy services that have popped up in recent years. These services range from basic telehealth and therapist concierge services to broader mental healthcare that includes symptom monitoring and messaging abilities. They’re touted as the best option for affordable therapy, and many are indeed more accessible without insurance than traditional therapy, but the actual cost can range from $250 to $400 per month, depending on which service you use, which provider you’re matched with, where you live, and how many sessions you need.
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