Therapy Without Insurance: How to Access Mental Health Care

Published on: 25 Jul 2022
Clinically Reviewed by Elizabeth Keohan, LCSW-C
woman sitting in window looking sad

Research shows that an estimated 1 in 5 adults experienced a mental health condition in 2020.  Access to affordable behavioral therapy is more critical now than it’s ever been before. Unfortunately, without insurance, therapy costs can range between $75 and $150 per session — sometimes much higher — depending on where you live, the type of therapy you want, the experience of the therapist, and several other factors. Simply put, the cost of therapy can be unaffordable for many people. 

A lack of insurance often keeps people who can’t afford therapy from seeking treatment, even though it’s a necessary part of treatment and healing for many. However, there are options for accessing affordable therapy without insurance. We’re sharing them with you here. 

Can You Get Therapy Without Insurance?

Do you need to have therapy that takes insurance? Even if you don’t have a health insurance plan for your mental health needs, you don’t worry. There are many avenues you can take to access affordable therapy without insurance coverage. 

While many mental health providers offer a sliding scale fee based on income (meaning, your cost is based on what you can afford), there are also free and low-cost resources for therapy. Regardless of your situation, you don’t have to worry about how to get therapy without insurance. We can show you some different options to try. 

“You can get therapy without insurance and there are different options to meet your needs. Private pay, sliding scale, and free community agencies’ services are just some of the ways you can receive services when you don’t have insurance.”

Talkspace therapist Cynthia Catchings, LCSW

Affordable Options if You Don’t Have Insurance

If you’ve ever tried searching online for therapy with no insurance, you might have felt overwhelmed at the results you got back. With so many options to choose from, how do you know which resources for low-cost or no-cost therapy are right? We’ve narrowed down the choices so you can find the best route to take from the start. 

Sliding scale

One of the ways to access affordable therapy without insurance is through a sliding scale fee. Thankfully, many therapists today offer services on a sliding scale, which means your cost is based on your income or ability to pay.  

Online therapy

Online therapy platforms, like Talkspace, are incredible resources that provide web-based therapy with a licensed therapist. 

While they’re not typically free, they’re usually cheaper than paying for a weekly in-person visit with a therapist you’re paying out of pocket. 

It’s common for these platforms to require a monthly subscription, but that cost can include both weekly therapy and often unlimited communication with a licensed therapist. The per-visit cost can end up being much cheaper when you use online therapy, even without insurance. 

Employee assistance programs

With growing awareness of the importance of mental health in the workplace, many employers now offer employee assistance programs (EAP). These programs are designed to help employees access counseling services and therapy at very low or no cost. 

Ask your human resources department if there are any mental health services available to employees. Programs might include therapy for substance abuse, emotional issues, couples therapy, and they can be done through phone appointments, online therapy sessions, or in-person visits. 

College health centers

If you’re a college student, you’re likely to have access to low-cost (or maybe even free!) mental health care on campus. Contact your campus health center to see what options are available for current students. 

If you have a local college but aren’t a student, don’t let that deter you. Call the psychology department and ask if they offer sliding scale or reduced rate therapy from students who are training to become therapists. These clinician-supervised visits can be a great option if you’re looking for no-cost or affordable therapy without insurance. 

Free Mental Health Services 

While there are a lot of mental health resources available, sometimes, when you’re searching for therapy, no insurance can be a problem at first. Free mental health services through crisis hotlines, community health clinics, support groups, and some online therapy platforms are all ways people without insurance coverage can find therapy.

Community health clinics

If you’ve ever wondered how to get therapy without insurance, many states offer federally-funded community clinics with access to free or affordable mental health care services.

To gain access to all the community clinics in the United States, you can search the healthcare.gov database. Not every community clinic offers mental health services, so it’s a good idea to check their website to make sure they offer what you need. 

In addition to the federal database, you can also search for a list of clinics in your area using the freeclinics.com database. 

Faith-based support groups or crisis hotlines

Many faith-based support groups help people through addiction, divorce, recovery, and mental health conditions. You can reach out to your specific house of worship or search online if you prefer an online, faith-based community. 

You can also search on Facebook for topics like “Christian support groups” or “faith-based support groups,” or even search the website Meetup for like-minded support groups. 

In addition, there are also faith-based hotlines:

  • Biblical Help for Youth in Crisis 1-800-HIT-HOME
  • Association of Christian Counselors 1-800-526-8673
  • Grace Help Line 24 Hour Christian service 1-800-982-8032
  • The Jewish Board 1-844-ONE.CALL

Crisis text line

If you’re in an immediate crisis, the Crisis Text Line is available 24/7, free of charge. Just text 741741, and you’ll be connected to a trained crisis counselor. You can text back and forth until the acute event is over. 

*Note: If you’re in crisis and having thoughts of self-harm or suicide, please get help immediately. Dial 911 or reach out to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at: 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

Mental health hotlines

Many people are trained to help those in crisis, and they’re just a phone call away. Your information is confidential, and access is always free:

  • Suicide Hotline: 1-800-SUICIDE (784-2433)
  • National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255)
  • Suicide Prevention Hotline: 1-800-827-7571
  • Gay and Lesbian National Hotline: 1-888-843-4564
  • Trevor Hotline (Suicide): 1-866-4-U-TREVOR
  • S.A.F.E. (Self Abuse Finally Ends): 1-800-DONT-CUT
  • Youth Crisis Hotline: 1-800-448-4663
  • Teen Hope Line: 1-800-394-HOPE

A longer list of hotlines is available here

Online forums or support groups

Online forums and support groups are widely available for people searching for help with mental health conditions or support while going through a divorce, addiction, or grief. If you prefer online help, you can search on Facebook for various specific support groups.

The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) offers the NAMI Connection, a free weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly support group where people share coping strategies and offer each other encouragement and understanding. To find a location near you, search the NAMI database

You can also call 2-1-1, and they should be able to direct you to a support group or counseling in your area. 

“Most cities have community centers or clinics where free mental health services are offered. Lifeline is a free, confidential crisis service that’s available to all, 24/7, and it connects you to the nearest center offering mental health services in their network. You can get crisis services or referrals to find free mental health services.”

Talkspace therapist Cynthia Catchings, LCSW

Access to mental health should not be dependent on the ability to pay or whether or not you have insurance with mental health coverage. There are so many resources out there that can help you get the therapy you need to live a full, healthy, happy life that’s rewarding and peaceful. Use the tips we’ve given you here to find therapy at either no cost or at a cost you can afford. You deserve it.

Talkspace offers online, affordable, convenient, and accessible therapy that’s literally at your fingertips. Learn more about how our pricing and subscriptions work, so you can begin on your path to healing today.

Sources:

1. Mental Health By the Numbers | NAMI: National Alliance on Mental Illness. Nami.org. https://www.nami.org/mhstats. Published 2022. Accessed June 9, 2022.

2. Where to Receive Low Cost Health Care in Your Community. HealthCare.gov. https://www.healthcare.gov/community-health-centers/. Accessed June 9, 2022.

3. Free Clinics | Free Medical Clinics | Free Health Clinics. Freeclinics.com. https://www.freeclinics.com/. Accessed June 9, 2022.

4. Meetup – We are what we do. Meetup. https://www.meetup.com/. Accessed June 9, 2022.

5. List of Hotlines – Please Live. Please Live. https://www.pleaselive.org/hotlines/. Accessed June 9, 2022.

6. NAMI Connection | NAMI: National Alliance on Mental Illness. Nami.org. https://www.nami.org/Support-Education/Support-Groups/NAMI-Connection. Accessed June 9, 2022.

Talkspace articles are written by experienced mental health-wellness contributors; they are grounded in scientific research and evidence-based practices. Articles are extensively reviewed by our team of clinical experts (therapists and psychiatrists of various specialties) to ensure content is accurate and on par with current industry standards.

Our goal at Talkspace is to provide the most up-to-date, valuable, and objective information on mental health-related topics in order to help readers make informed decisions.

Articles contain trusted third-party sources that are either directly linked to in the text or listed at the bottom to take readers directly to the source.

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