Mental Health

6 Affordable Therapy Options Without Insurance

Alexis Bryan18 Oct 2021

Seeking therapy is a big step in taking care of your mental health. Without insurance, it can cost between $60 to $350 per session with a therapist. Fortunately, there are therapy options for every budget, and we have created this guide to help you find one that suits your needs.

Finding a therapist can be daunting, and finding an affordable one is even harder. With a Mira membership, you can chat with a Mira representative to access the resources you need. For $45 per month, you also get exclusive discounts on prescription medicines, low-cost lab testing, and flat-fee doctor’s visits.

Mental Health in 2021

Over the past two years, the number of adults suffering from mental illness and substance use disorders has almost quadrupled. During the pandemic, about 4 in 10 adults in the U.S. have reported symptoms of anxiety or depressive disorder.

The most common mental health conditions include:

  • Anxiety disorders, including panic disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and phobias.
  • Depression, bipolar disorder, and other mood disorders.
  • Eating disorders.
  • Personality disorders.
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder.
  • Psychotic disorders, including schizophrenia.

Many people suffering from these conditions cannot afford to pay for therapy without insurance. Fortunately, we have found some affordable therapy options available to anyone who may need it, regardless of age or condition. 

Affordable Therapy Options Without Insurance

Therapy can be expensive, but there are many affordable options out there. In addition to traditional therapists, there are mental health services such as support groups and crisis hotlines which are often free. There has also been a rise in app-based mental healthcare for people who want to begin the journey solo. Below we describe 6 affordable therapy options for individuals who are paying without insurance. 

Sliding Scale Therapists

Many counselors, therapists, and psychologists charge an hourly rate using a “sliding scale” mechanism. This means they adjust their fee depending on your ability to pay. If your insurance doesn’t cover therapy, or you need to pay out-of-pocket, sliding scale therapists will offer their services at a more affordable rate.

Good Therapy is an online resource to help you find a sliding-scale therapist. Each professional determines their own rate, so be sure to search around for a rate that works for you. Most therapists who use sliding scale pricing charge around $75-$100 per session depending on your income. If you have a specific therapist in mind, you can always ask if they offer sliding-scale pricing as well. 

Community Mental Health Clinics

Community mental health clinics are another way that you can get access to affordable mental health services. These clinics are staffed by psychotherapists and psychologists who provide services at very little or no cost to you. They also employ student counselors and social workers who work under the supervision of licensed professionals. Community mental health clinics offer:

  • Individual counseling
  • Family counseling
  • Medication management
  • Substance use disorder counseling
  • Treatment for a wide range of psychological conditions, including depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia

To find a clinic near you, visit mentalhealth.gov or contact the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) HelpLine.

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Mental Healthcare Apps

Nowadays there is an app for everything, including mental health services. Whether it be a meditation app, symptom tracking app, or live therapy app, most mental healthcare apps are free or very low cost compared to the price of therapy. Verywell mind surveyed users from 33 different companies to determine the best mental health apps on the market:

  • Best Overall: Moodfit
  • Best for Learning Coping Skills: MoodMission
  • Best for Therapy: Talkspace
  • Best for Stress Relief: Sanvello
  • Best for Meditation: Calm
  • Best Fun App: Happify
  • Best for Depression: Depression CBT Self-Help Guide
  • Best for BIPOC: Shine
  • Best for Bipolar Disorder: eMoods
  • Best for Symptom Tracking: Bearable
  • Best for ADHD: Todoist
  • Best for PTSD: PTSD Coach

Support Groups

Support groups are another option for affordable therapy for people without insurance. While some people prefer individual care, a support group can offer a sense of community. These sessions are conducted by a mental health professional for a group of patients at the same time. NAMI Connection is a free, in-person, 90-minute confidential support group for people with mental health conditions.

Support groups can be specialized for individuals who have a specific mental health condition or more general. Before joining, it is a good idea to reach out to the group leader to learn more. In addition to in-person support groups, there are online support groups

Local colleges and universities

Many colleges and universities have mental health clinics that offer some free services for enrolled students. There are also some universities that have services that are open to the public. Universities typically employ graduate students working under licensed professionals and offer sliding scale fees. Contact your school to find out what services you may be eligible for. 

Crisis and Suicide Prevention Hotlines

In times of emergency, crisis and suicide prevention hotlines can be called anytime. Trained volunteers and professionals provide support via the phone and can connect you with helpful resources.

If you or someone you know is considering suicide, get help from a crisis or suicide prevention hotline. Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255.

Affordable Therapy Options Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Caring for your mental health is just as important as caring for your physical health. Below we offer some tips on how to access affordable therapy and incorporate healthy habits to improve your mental health.

How do you qualify for sliding scale therapy rates?

If the price of therapy is out of your budget, or you do not have health insurance that covers therapy, you should first ask your therapist if they offer sliding-fee scale pricing. Then you will be asked to present your income information and number of dependents to your therapy provider. Based on this information, the office staff will determine if you meet the criteria and offer you a lower fee.

Does all insurance cover therapy?

In 2008, a mental health parity law was passed that requires health insurance companies to cover mental health, behavioral health and substance use disorder services similarly to physical health coverage. This means that insurance companies cannot charge inflated copays for mental health service providers, or place annual limits on the number of visits allowed.

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Still, some plans are exempt from the law, so it is important to check your benefits. If it is unclear, you should call your insurance company directly. The federal mental health parity law applies to the following types of health insurance:

  • Employer-sponsored health coverage
  • Coverage purchased through ACA health insurance exchanges
  • Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP)
  • Most Medicaid programs

It is important to check with your therapist to see if they accept your specific insurance plan. If they do not, you can contact your health insurance provider to see which therapists would be covered.`

What are some tips to reduce stress?

Coping with stress is a skill. During the COVID-19 pandemic, coping with stress is especially hard since we have had limited social interaction and may lack a work-life balance. Healthy ways to cope with stress include: 

  • Take breaks from watching, reading, or listening to news stories. While being informed is important, the power of disconnecting is largely underestimated.
  • Take care of your body
    • Take deep breaths, stretch, or meditate
    • Try to eat healthy, well-balanced meals
    • Exercise regularly
    • Get plenty of sleep
    • Avoid excessive alcohol, tobacco, and substance use
    • Continue with routine preventive measures (such as vaccinations, cancer screenings, etc.) as recommended by your healthcare provider
    • Get vaccinated with a COVID-19 vaccine
  • Make time to unwind. Finding time throughout the day to relax and reflect can be tough. One strategy is to schedule short periods for self-care daily or longer times weekly.
  • Connect with others. Humans need interpersonal connections by nature. Building a support system with those you love and people in your community can be one of the best ways to cope with stress in your personal life.

How to incorporate balance into your life?

Reena Vokoun, CEO, and Founder of Passionfit often talks about The 3 Fs, which stands for family, friends, and fun. Vokoun shares, “In my opinion, the 3 Fs are what life is all about. We need to work hard and pursue our goals, passions, and dreams, but if we aren't able to spend enough time with our family and friends and to have fun in life, what's it all for? While this philosophy might seem obvious, it's amazing how often people lose sight of it, myself included. Oftentimes we think if we can work hard and push through a situation, then we can enjoy these things. But in the end, we always have a new goal to push for and we lose touch with what is important.”

Vokoun believes incorporating balance in your life entails:

  • Build time for fun into your daily, weekly, and monthly schedule
  • Do check-ins with your loved ones on a regular basis
  • Plan weekend activities, vacations, and short getaways with family and friends
  • Write down your priorities for each season of your life and actually look at them, often

Bottom Line

Finding affordable therapy options is not easy, but there are plenty of services out there. Over the past year, many alternatives to traditional therapy have arisen as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic lockdowns and exacerbated mental health issues.

While taking the first step can be hard, you won’t regret getting the help you need. Our team at Mira can connect you with resources and ease the process of finding affordable therapy. Call or email us today to learn more about how a membership with Mira can keep you healthy.