What to Do if You Can’t Afford Therapy

How to get the help you need, no matter your budget
Medically Reviewed by
Dr Hamilton
A man opens his wallet to find it empty – he can't afford therapy
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When you’re struggling with your mental health, it’s easy for people to suggest getting help — but what’s to be done if you can’t afford therapy?

The affordability (or lack thereof) of mental health services is a huge barrier to entry for many people, especially in the U.S., where even if you have insurance, it’s not always clear what kinds of help they’ll cover. And if you don’t have insurance, the costs are often unbearable.

Of course, ‘affordable’ is a subjective word. Some people can afford a $20 weekly copay if their insurance covers therapy, and others can afford to pay out of pocket for an expensive expert based in a major city. Some people have insurance to fall back on and others are at the mercy of whatever they can manage on their own.

Especially if you’re already feeling stressed or down, it can feel impossible to jump the hurdle of cost and get into the therapy routine you need, but we want to help. This article will focus on three potential solutions for concerns about the cost of therapy:

  • How to make traditional therapy more affordable
  • Other types of therapy that are more cost-effective
  • Free or low-cost resources you can access to get you through

Get the care you need at a price you can afford

A small green plant sprouts out of a pile of coins, signifying growth from little money
Source: Unsplash

How to make traditional therapy more affordable

When most of us think of therapy, we imagine going into an office and talking to a licensed specialist with a Ph.D. or master’s degree — that’s the traditional therapy model, and it can cost anywhere from $100 to $500 per session if your insurance doesn’t cover it.

But there are ways to access this treatment, even if you’re on a tighter budget:

  1. Check with your insurance. If you have health insurance coverage but don’t think it’ll cover therapy, give your carrier a call. The worst that happens is you’ll lose some time on the phone, but the best-case scenario is that you’ll find out you have some coverage and get details on any restrictions. Since the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, which requires most insurers to cover mental health services, many people have found that therapy is actually more affordable than they’d previously thought. 
  2. Ask about a sliding scale. Many therapists structure their fees along a sliding scale, meaning that they have a standard session fee that they’ll decrease to a point according to each patient’s financial situation. Not all therapists do this, and it may only be available if you forgo insurance, but it’s always worth asking.
  3. Look for a therapist in training. Check your local universities or the APTC’s list of training centers to find a therapist or counselor who’s working toward their required hours for their license. These providers are often less expensive than more experienced therapists, but they’re trained and supervised by experts so the care you get should still be effective.

Other types of care that are more cost-effective

If you still can’t afford — or just don’t want — to see a licensed mental health professional one-on-one in their office, the good news is that there are other options. The even better news is that they’re frequently more affordable than traditional therapy services!

  1. Online therapy. Moving your sessions online, either through a mental health care platform like Youper or directly with a private provider, often brings fees down. Without an office, overhead costs are lower — plus, moving to telehealth frequently makes sessions easier to fit into your schedule.
  2. Group therapy. Losing the one-on-one aspect of therapy also lowers costs significantly, with group sessions averaging $40 to $50 each. It may be even less expensive if you make use of the group sessions offered by your local community mental health center.
  3. Behavioral coaching. If licensing isn’t super important to you and you’re struggling with mild to moderate symptoms, you may find that a trained behavior coach is a good option. These providers can help you work through your anxiety or depression using a range of therapeutic tools. 
  4. Support groups. Especially if you’re dealing with a substance use disorder or just need a steady support system, these groups can be a great way to remain accountable to yourself and others. Mental Health America has a free list of support group resources, and the National Alliance of Mental Illness also offers a range of free peer support groups.
  5. Digital therapy, mental health apps, and podcasts. Whether you want to make time for mindfulness, learn more about managing your anxiety, or practice cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) techniques, there’s an app for that — either offered free or at a low cost. Youper’s digital therapeutics go a step further than most, offering tools for self-care and a 24/7 chat to support you anytime, anywhere.

Whatever your budget or needs, you deserve affordable mental health treatment. At Youper, our care model flexes with you, to make sure you’re always getting the absolute best available treatment no matter your situation. From individual sessions with a variety of caring providers to round-the-clock support, we’ve got your back at every stage of your journey.

Affordable therapy is within your reach

Online therapy
with or without
insurance

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and depression
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