Make Therapy Affordable — Step by Step

Daniela Marin
ILLUMINATION
Published in
4 min readDec 16, 2022

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Besides being a therapist myself, I have also been a client. So I know how pricey it can be to see a therapist. It can range from $80 to $500 per session. Yes! $500!!

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Some therapists have many years of experience, unique therapeutic strategies to share, and authority in social media. They are popular because they help clients achieve a magnificent transformation that people won’t get anywhere else. However, considering their power, they don’t want to work with insurance companies because it’s a pain in the butt.

Therapists who recognize their value know they can succeed despite working with insurance companies or agencies.

Not to say you won’t find a good therapist through your insurance or an agency because many exceptional professionals work there. The problem is, though, that there is a limit. You can only work with whoever is in your insurance network or in that agency. So sometimes, we end up staying with therapists that are not a good match for us just because of the monetary benefit.

But is it a financial benefit? Are you putting your money somewhere worth it?

Look, I will be honest with you. I have known great professionals with impressive educational backgrounds, but there has yet to be a rapport.

Do I really want to rely on my co-pay and see this person when I don’t trust them, feel uncomfortable with them, or even like them?

Your number one priority in finding a therapist should be finding a good match and then trying to make it work with them financially.

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These days everything is for sale, and everything is possible, so here are some tips on how to negotiate a good therapy investment for yourself:

Pre-Negotiation:

  1. Before contacting your prospects, know how much you are willing to invest in therapy monthly.
  2. If you have medical insurance, call them and learn about your benefits. Make sure to ask the following:
  • How much is your co-pay?
  • Do you need to meet the deductible to use your co-pay benefits?
  • Do you have out-of-network benefits? How much do they cover?

3. Study your therapists’ profiles.

4. Request a free consultation with your therapist, even if they don’t explicitly offer it. You need this time to sense your therapist’s vibe and personality. Moreover, this will help you go through a process of elimination. Whoever refuses to give you the consultation is probably someone who does not care, and whoever you don’t connect with over the call is perhaps not a good match for you.

Some questions to ask on this call:

  • Have you worked with people who struggle with [insert your struggle here]?
  • What kind of therapeutic approaches do you use in therapy?
  • What is your availability?
  • What is your rate? Do you take insurance? Do you offer a sliding scale?

Time to negotiate!

  1. If you have out-of-network benefits, ask your therapist if they will provide you with a superbill because you will be responsible for submitting these bills to your insurance company. They do take a few weeks to reimburse you but hey! You are getting a log of your money back.
  2. Many insurances with OON benefits cover up to 80% of your expense. Therefore, you will end up paying $20–40 per session, which is a gift!
  3. If you want to take the sliding scale option, know that therapists have their own sliding scale fees. So that you have an idea, therapists’ rates average $90 per session (45–60min). In some states, therapists can go as low as $60 per session, but in most places is $90 and up. If you find a therapist charging $120 per session, consider asking for $90 per session. Give your therapist time to think about it and express gratitude for their efforts. You will be surprised how many people are willing to help.
  4. Another option is to do biweekly sessions or even once a month. To complement that, ask your therapist if they will provide therapeutic material after sessions so you can continue your work on your own in weeks you don’t see them. I do this with many clients, and I honestly love it! We have live sessions every other week, and on weeks we don’t have sessions, I send them homework that we later discuss in our following session.

My biggest advice:

DO NOT limit yourself to your in-network providers. Instead, learn to negotiate to get a therapist match worth your time!

Other ways to make therapy affordable:

  1. Find agencies or platforms that give you a set membership (You can find a free week of therapy with BetterHelp in the description of my Youtube video)
  2. If you are a student trying to find a therapist on campus, which are usually free.
  3. Meet with a therapist in training or a registered intern.
  4. Look into group therapy.
  5. Check if your employer has an Employee Assistance Program.
  6. If you are religious, try talking with someone in your congregation.
  7. Purchase mental health workbooks, journals, and courses that you can do independently.

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