How much does therapy or counseling cost?

April 29, 2017 5 min read
How much does therapy or counseling cost?

About one in ten Americans reports being depressed. While the proportion is alarmingly high, the United States is not unique in having a population burdened by mental health — it's a truly global issue.

The taboo in reaching out for help to improve mental fitness is dropping in many countries, such as in the UK, where the royal family has recently banded together to address this taboo with their 'Heads Together' campaign. While starting therapy is becoming more commonplace, the high costs associated with therapy can block many people from even considering therapy where a willing individual’s thought process can quickly turn from “I really need to speak to someone” to browsing the cost of therapy, promptly getting sticker shock, and thinking “Well….I may need help....but not $400 worth of help...".

Therapy can certainly be an expensive investment and how much you want to spend on your therapy depends on you — your budget, time and financial constraints, whether you have physical access to great therapists and if therapy is covered under your insurance policy.

Why does therapy cost so much?

Before being shocked by the price of a therapy session, keep in mind that you pay for more than just your session.

While the price is advertised and determined by the length of a session, perhaps a 50 or 90 minute session, the price is also inclusive of the therapist’s additional time spent on helping you attain results. Outside of your scheduled consultation, your therapist will also spend time working to get you the care you need – reviewing notes from your session, preparing for your next session, any additional administrative time they must spend for invoicing, filing your insurance reimbursements, conducting additional research about your situation, etc. These are the hidden costs of service professionals that often go unnoticed.

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The fields of knowledge in mental health and physical well-being are constantly evolving.

Unlike service professionals such as plumbers and car mechanics that can learn how to tweak their machines and systems to promptly get them working again — "Spin the widget here, then screw in and tighten this piece here and violà! It’s working!" — recalibrating the mind and body is not a simple task. There is simply no one-size-fits-all approach to attaining results.

A good therapist, whether a nutritional therapist or psychotherapist, will spend time on continued education, paying for scholarly journals, and attending seminars to stay current in their field. Paying for your session allows the therapist to afford their continued education. For most therapists, offering consultations is their primary or sole revenue stream.

Most therapists can’t spend 40 full hours every week treating patients.

Being a therapist is demanding and draining, and despite loving their work, therapists need to take time to recharge. No one is immune to mental health challenges; most therapist's see their own therapists and counselors to stay positive and energized to help you during your session. Consequently, the pricing of sessions can depend on how many hours of thearpy the therapist can offer in one week, and how much money they need to cover the costs of running their business.

Running a therapy business is expensive, as therapist's often must pay licensing fees at the state or national level, membership costs for participating in industry associations, not to mention the high cost of mandatory practice insurance. The office they work from also has a price.

Where you are in the world will impact the price of your therapy session.

The average price of therapy varies widely — in Australia sessions can run in the 100s of dollars, while a session in Germany can cost you a few dozen euros if the session is covered by your national insurance plan.

Living in a city and being proximate to a diverse range of therapists offers you much more choice when looking for a professional that fits your unique requirements. Living in a city with a large supply of therapy services can also drive down the price of services. Here a therapist without a unique ability simply may not find enough clients if they try to charge 3x the going rate. On the other hand, if you are in need of mental health services and are limited to having access to just one therapist within a one hour radius — your options will be limited.

If you’re looking for a flexible, and sometimes more affordable option for therapy, looking at consulting with an expert online may be a good option for you.

Studies show that remote therapy could be just as effective as face-to-face therapy. Through online directories, you can save yourself time by quickly browsing professionals and clearly, and in one place, see what price sessions start at — there's no longer a need to toggle between 15 open tabs to compare the prices of therapy on the private websites of therapists. If you’re looking to start online therapy, reference this post on how to find the right therapist for you.

The therapist’s brand and specialities will also impact the price of the session. As expected, if you are seeking the services of an in-demand therapist with a niche specialty that requires extensive training, the therapist may charge you more for their services.

How to get more affordable therapy

While there isn’t usually space for haggling your way to cost savings in therapy, there are certainly steps you can take to try to lower the price of treatment. As a start, during your introductory session with your therapist, it is worth asking if they offer any reduced price sessions. For example, some therapists offer pro bono sessions for special cases, and others may offer a discounted rate if they are looking to gain experience helping a patient with a particular issue or ailment. Just as you can get a cavity fixed at a cheaper rate by dentistry students, the same could be the case when consulting with therapists in training.

Signing up for a multiple-session course of therapy, commonly called a “package”, can also drive down the price of your overall therapy.

It is common for therapists to offer discounts for patients that buy multiple sessions and/or offer a series of free consultations, analyses or tests as part of the package.

Signing up for a package with a therapist can also be beneficial for you because it requires a level of both mental and financial commitment to continuing with the course of treatment.

Some people need the extra nudge and motivation to continue their course of therapy, so if you find yourself in need of therapy, but have some issues committing, paying in advance for a package may help you stay focused.

While counseling cost is an essential factor to consider when approaching therapy, you should also consider whether you’re ready to commit to helping yourself.

While a therapist will help you dive in to navigate through your mind to reach your wellness goals, your goals can only be achieved if you do the necessary work by yourself. Before approaching therapy, think through how much time you can dedicate to your course of therapy on a weekly or monthly basis, and how long you’d like your sessions to be. A little preparation for your new course of therapy can go a long way!

You don’t have to have all the answers before starting therapy. If you're thinking "I need a therapist near me" but don't know where to start, try the RingMD therapist directory. We will help you find the right therapist for YOU!