Many people worry about the cost of seeing a therapist. They’re afraid they won’t be able to afford it. They might even consider putting off getting the help they need as a result of that fear. Knowing what to expect, though, can be a great way to alleviate some of the anxiety about how much therapy might cost you.
So, how much does therapy cost, really? The truth is, it varies. The cost of mental health help can range based on a number of factors. Things like where you live, what your needs and goals are, the type of mental health provider you see, and what your insurance company will cover can all affect the potential cost.
“Each therapist has their rates that vary from location to specialization or years of experience.”
Of course, it’s normal to be worried about the high cost of anything in life, but don’t panic, and definitely don’t let your fear of cost keep you from getting mental health help and experiencing the benefits of therapy.
If you’re seeking help for a mental health condition, read on to learn about the cost of therapy (and where you can find affordable options), so you can start getting treatment.
Average Cost of Therapy
This can be a tricky question to answer since many therapists set their own rates. The rate you pay will vary and depend on things such as your location and the therapist’s specialty, experience, and credentials. That said, the average cost for individual therapy services in 2021 was $75-150 an hour. If you live in a place like New York, however, that range jumps substantially to $200-$400.
When figuring out the cost of therapy, the first thing to consider is how the therapist you want to see bills. There are two basic ways to charge for therapy: a flat rate by the hour or on a sliding scale.
You might wonder, “Does insurance cover therapy?” Health insurance provider policies offered under the Affordable Care Act are required to cover mental healthcare, including at least a portion of the cost of seeing a therapist. However, many of today’s policies have high deductibles, so you might still have to pay for your sessions out of your own pocket (although they will count toward meeting your yearly deductible). In most circumstances, only a limited number of mental health services are covered for a specific timeframe.
Medicare (for those age 65 and older) pays for a depression screening each year (from therapists who accept Medicare). Subsequent sessions are generally subject to a co-pay equal to a certain percentage of the Medicare-approved amount.
Rates per hour
Understanding that the cost of therapy can vary, a typical range might be between $60 and $250 per session. Sessions are often 60 minutes.
If paying by the hour isn’t doable, don’t give up just yet. There are other ways you can get the therapy you need, even if your insurance company doesn’t cover the cost or if you can’t afford to pay the hourly rate a therapist charges.
Sliding scale therapy
Some therapists work for large health care organizations, and others are essentially small business owners running an independent practice. The latter has more leeway to work with you to find a rate you can afford. A sliding scale fee means you pay what you can, based on your income or other factors. Many therapists are willing to work with you on what they charge.
“The cost of therapy can be high for some people, but you can talk to the therapist and ask for a sliding scale fee. Some therapists offer lower rates or even accept to work pro bono.”
How Much Does Therapy Cost Without Insurance?
If you don’t have a health insurance plan, start by looking for a therapist who offers their services on a sliding scale basis, which means they charge what you can afford to pay. In addition, many mental health facilities employ newly licensed therapists who need experience. These young therapists may offer low-cost therapy, or sometimes even free mental health care.
“Sometimes, therapists adjust their rates for those people who don’t have insurance, making the cost of therapy more affordable.”
Lastly, you can see what type of aid your state’s assistance programs can provide for therapy costs. Some state programs offer free or very reduced-cost care. Ohio, for example, allows for more than 50 hours of free therapy per year with zero co-pay.
Costs of Different Types of Therapy
Mental health is definitely not a “one size fits all” deal. Below are a few of the more common therapy types, along with the average therapy costs associated with each. This way, you can be sure to get the type of therapy that’s the most beneficial and well-aligned to your specific needs and goals.
Individual therapy is what most people think of when it comes to therapy. It involves meeting with a therapist, either in person or online, to discuss things that are bothering you. The cost of individual therapy averages $60 to $120 for a 45 to 60-minute session.
Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)
Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is a popular form of talk therapy that’s used to treat symptoms of anxiety, depression, and a number of other mental health conditions. The average cost of CBT is between $100 and $200 per 50-minute session.
Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR)
Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) therapy is another type of talk therapy where you’re asked to recall difficult memories while moving your eyes back and forth or tapping the sides of your body. This is one of the more expensive mental health therapies. You can expect to pay up to $250 per hour or more for EMDR therapy.
“There are different types of therapy, from CBT to EMDR, and the cost may be different due to the certifications that a therapist gets after graduation. With CBT being one of the most common types of therapy, it can also be one of the most affordable ones. EMDR can end up being more expensive.”
Couples therapy is used to help partners address their relationship issues. The average cost of couples therapy is $75 to $150 per hour.
Marriage counseling is couples therapy for married couples. The cost of in-person or online marriage counseling is similar to that of couples therapy.
Group therapy involves multiple patients and one licensed therapist sharing ideas and thoughts. There are many benefits of group therapy. It’s generally less expensive than individual therapy and can average somewhere between $30 and $80 per hour.
Depression therapy seeks to ease the symptoms of depression, typically through a form of talk therapy. This type of therapy is similarly priced to CBT. You can expect to pay between $100 and $200 per one-hour session.
Anger management is therapy that’s specifically designed to help people deal with unresolved and uncontrollable rage. Anger management therapy averages between $50 to $150 per hour.
Online therapy, or virtual therapy, is an increasingly popular option and generally offers a way to save money. Seeking therapy online is typically less expensive than seeing a therapist in person. You might wonder, “does online therapy work?” Put simply, yes! You will be matched with a professionally licensed therapist, just as you would in other therapy types. In addition to one-on-one online sessions with a therapist, there are a number of apps that offer mental health help for those who can’t afford in-person therapy.
“Online therapy is one of the best and most affordable types of therapy.”
Cost of Therapy By Specialist
Different specialists will charge different fees. For example, a psychiatrist who has a medical degree in addition to mental health training will generally charge the highest rates.
“A licensed clinical social worker may have lower fees than a psychologist, but both can work with you to help you feel better and reach your goals.”
Note that the rates mentioned below are averages and can vary significantly from therapist to therapist and from one location to another. We include these rates to offer a general idea for those who might be wondering how much does therapy cost?
Psychiatrists are usually the most expensive type of mental health professional. As we noted, psychiatrists are medical doctors who are able to prescribe medication, something that other therapists or counselors on our list aren’t able to do. The cost of a visit with a psychiatrist can average around $300-$500 for an initial consultation and between $100 and $200 per session after that.
A psychologist generally has a master’s degree or Ph.D. in psychology and is licensed by the state. However, they haven’t earned an MD like a psychiatrist, which means they aren’t doctors, can’t prescribe medication, and their hourly cost might be much lower. Psychologists’ rates average around $70 to $150 per therapy session.
A counselor might be someone who’s still completing their training or who hasn’t logged the required number of clinical hours for their license. These professionals are supervised by licensed psychologists and can be far less expensive. Expect to pay around $50 to $80 per session for a counselor.
Psychotherapy (also known as talk therapy) is an umbrella term for several therapy modalities that can treat a variety of mental health conditions. The average cost for psychotherapy can range from $100-$200 per therapy session.
Affordable & Accessible Therapy With Talkspace
If you’re looking for therapy but are concerned about the cost, consider using an online counseling platform like Talkspace. You’ll get stellar care with a licensed, experienced professional, but at a significantly reduced cost. Talkspace is changing how people think about mental health because we provide online therapy that takes insurance and removes the barriers to get started. Our accessible, convenient, affordable therapy offers help right from the comfort of your own home.
Not sure how to start therapy? Reach out to Talkspace today and we’ll guide you!
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Commonly Asked Questions
Online therapy is significantly cheaper than in-person therapy since it does not involve many of the overhead costs of traditional brick and mortar therapy like rent and insurance. A study of online therapy discovered that text therapy is 42.2% the cost of traditional services. The same study concluded that online therapy is an ‘acceptable and clinically beneficial’ medium; the efficacy of online therapy is consistent with that of in-person therapy.
Online therapy is legitimate as long as therapy is performed by a licensed mental health specialist and facilitated by a trusted, secure platform that uses licensed counselors. A 2017 study of online therapy concluded that ‘asynchronous text therapy with a licensed therapist is an acceptable and clinically beneficial medium for individuals with various diagnoses and histories of psychological distress.’ Also, the study’s participants reported ‘high satisfaction’ from the ‘affordability, convenience, and effectiveness’ of online therapy. Online therapy enables users to connect with a licensed therapist at a significantly cheaper rate than in-person therapy, anytime and anywhere.
Although there are some free online counseling services offered, one should be very weary of these services. An offer for ‘free online therapy’ should raise skepticism. Consider whether it’s a sales tactic to get you to provide your information or use the service. Can you trust the service? Are the counselors licensed? Most free counseling services aren’t scientifically backed and work without licensed counselors. These are some titles that suggest unlicensed individuals: Life coach, Health and wellness coach, Listening services, Life consulting, EFT – Emotional Freedom Techniques, Counselor (unlicensed). When looking to improve your mental health, it’s important to trust licensed professionals with expertise in the field in order to avoid a setback. It is more effective to choose a trusted online therapy provider such as Talkspace, which offers an affordable, safe, secure and effective service for improving mental health.