How to Get Therapy Even When You Can’t Afford It

Everyone experiences periodic bouts of grief, sadness, anxiety and depression, but it can be difficult to figure out when it’s more serious or just a passing feeling — not to mention, there’s still a lot of stigma surrounding therapy with some individuals thinking that only “crazy” people need it.

Is that why, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, only 46-65% of the one-in-five American adults who suffer from some form of mental illness are in treatment? One of the main reasons for this is most likely cost. According to the Psych Central Blog, therapy ranges from $240 to $1,000 an hour for an unspecified period of time, depending on the disorder — and unfortunately, insurance doesn’t cover much.

How to Get Therapy Even When You Can’t Afford It

Look at the Financial Side

The first thing you should do when you think you need therapy but can’t afford it is to call your insurance company. They might have practitioners in your plan’s network. If they do, make some calls to the practitioner’s office. Explain your circumstance, and ask about procedures, discounts and sliding scales.

Next, examine your financial priorities. Sometimes, “I can’t afford it” really means you question the value or validity of therapy or you might be denying that you need it. There are plenty of organizations that can help you find relief affordably, or for free. Here are a few ideas:

Training Clinics

They’re often in the larger, urban areas, and you can usually schedule appointments with a therapist-in-training and pay on a sliding scale.  Even if there’s no training clinic in your specific area, you can often find one in a nearby city, or call them and ask if they have a referral in your area.

Community Mental Health Organizations

They almost always have sliding scale payment options.

Support Groups

The most familiar support group is Alcoholics Anonymous, but there are support groups specific to just about any problem — from overeating to excessive rage and from grief to rape and more.

Talk and Text Therapy

Psychotherapy isn’t just delivered face-to-face anymore. Psychologist Jen Hartstein recently told “Today” that one of the benefits of talk/text therapy is a lower cost.  Users sign up for the service via phone, webcam, app, computer and connect with a trained practitioner. Costs range from $19 to $35, but some are even free.

Books, Podcasts, Webinars and Videos

This may not be a great solution for more serious disorders like PTSD, ADHD or schizophrenia, but it can help if you experience a period of sadness, depression or even grief.

Develop Positive Coping Skills

Now take a good look at your life. We frequently get in our own way, blocking our success or happiness. Our lack of coping skills can result in chaos, and many individuals self-medicate in various ways. If you can’t afford therapy, there are certain coping skills you can develop to help you through difficult times. Start by:

Setting Priorities

Ask yourself if it’s “urgent or important.” Sometimes it’s both, such as when you have a work deadline. However, more often than not, it’s a matter of someone else’s priorities. If you constantly stress yourself out to meet other people’s deadlines and expectations, you may end up depriving yourself of something that’s important to you.

Knowing Yourself

Be honest with yourself:  What are your dislikes and likes?  What  makes you uncomfortable?  What makes you happy? What are your goals? What do you expect in friendships? The more you know about yourself, the better you’ll be able to cope with difficult emotions.


Tension shows up in your face, and the more tense you look, the more anxious you’ll feel. Smiling is contagious, and you can also experience health benefits and less anxiety.

Practicing Stress Management

Whether it’s meditation, prayer, deep breathing, reading, taking long walks, or setting aside time to be near water and nature every day, establish what’s important to you. Research is pointing towards the success of alternative medicine, such as yoga, meditation, acupuncture and other stress-relieving techniques. You may also find relief with a relaxing hobby like gardening or coloring.

Therapy and positive coping skills should be accessible to everyone, no matter what financial history you have. The fear of confronting negative emotions is a common one, but there are plenty of free coping skills you can develop to overcome anxiety, depression and any other mental health disorder.

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