When you think of a psychotherapist, you probably conjure the image we see in television and film: The therapist sips from a coffee mug, listens, and occasionally nods or says “I see.” This picture is a costly one – the office is usually nice, the therapist is usually a “Dr.” and the room is typically spacious with a gorgeous view from the window. Often, handmade rugs cover the floor and expensive, custom-made draperies adorn the windows. Overall, the picture is one of elegance and sophistication.
Television and film depicts the highest echelon of psychotherapy practice. These therapists are in private practice, typically take cash or check only, and treat a specific population – the wealthy. That’s great for the wealthy but what do the other clients of the world do who can’t afford this?
I have found a balance in my work, having a private practice as well as working full-time with the county in which I live. Many people don’t know how many low-fee mental health resources there are available from the state, county, or city in which they live.
If you can’t afford the standard $100-$150 per session fee for the typical therapist in private practice, don’t give up hope altogether. First, conduct an extensive search on the internet. Use search terms like “sliding scale psychotherapy” and “community mental health center,” and include the name of the town or city in which you live. Try other terms like “affordable therapy” and “low cost mental health clinic.”
For years, I did my training at a host of nonprofit agencies where I conducted therapy with clients who could not afford to pay more than $10 per session. In fact, many people are able to get therapy for free. The trick is to figure out how to make that work for YOU.
One final tip I would like to share is to consider investigating whether universities or schools in your area have a therapy training program. While students are obtaining their Masters degree or doctoral degree in psychology or social work, for example, there is often a clinic at their school where they see no cost or low cost clients as a part of their training. Find out whether schools in your area have these programs, and then determine whether they have a clinic that sees clients. This is often a hidden gem – a terrific way to get therapy that many people don’t know about.
Whatever you do, don’t give up until you find a therapist. Therapy can truly change your life for the better!