Is Cheaper Therapy Better?
Whether you’re considering seeing a therapist for the first time or you are paying for these services now, the tendency to want to cut costs can be tempting.
According to Thervo.com, the average cost of therapy is $60 to $120 per session.
How much can Therapy Cost?
The cost will vary based on whether or not you have insurance (typically, there is still a co-pay involved – $20 to $50 a session). Also, the type of practitioner you are seeing can have an impact – a psychologist is $20 to $80 per session while a psychiatrist can be $100 to $200. What type of therapy you are receiving can also affect the cost, for example, individual therapy is more expensive than it would be in a group.
Knowing that you will see a therapist at a minimum of once a week, those costs can add up. The low-end average cost is$ 240 a month, and, at the top, it is $480. That’s is about the cost of a car payment, or even rent for some of us.
Why Cheap Therapy is not the right way to go:
Not necessarily, as Justin Baksh, LMHC, MCAP, and Chief Clinical Officer at Foundations Wellness Center advises. His reasoning, though, may surprise you.
When Baksh first started out in his private psychotherapy practice, he was just excited to get clients. “I wanted to help, and I wanted to be available to people. I actually offered deep discounts – half price sessions, sliding scale fees, and floating payments – to accommodate everyone,” Baksh recalls.
The result of lowering his fees and making himself available to all had an unintended effect, however.
“What I have found was that, when you give someone a discount, they are less likely to follow through with therapy,” said Baksh. “Why? Because their investment isn’t as large. When you give minimal input, you are less likely to follow through or finish the task.”
What does Cheap Therapy say about Human Psychology?
Studies have shown that people equate a higher value to a higher price. They also tend to value things that they work harder for, because of the time and effort invested.
This is important because therapy is more than just showing up. You have to do the work involved. If you are more invested in the process, you are more likely to do the heavy lifting required to get the desired end result.
Baksh feels that most clinicians – being the “empathetic, altruistic individuals they usually are” – offer a sliding scale, because, even with insurance, the co-pay is high.
However, if you’re seeking therapy and you feel you can’t afford it, he recommends that you should seek out ways to make it happen. For example, instead of going to a movie or out to eat with friends, put that money toward therapy. You can also prioritize expenses, making therapy a ‘mandatory bill,’ like your mortgage or rent: It gets paid before any discretionary expenses.
“A fellow therapist and friend of mine had a client making minimum wage who was able to do therapy weekly by taking this approach,” said Baksh. “Not only will you be getting the help you need, but you are more likely to successfully finish. I’ve had much more success with sustaining, maintaining, and graduating patients from therapy when they sacrifice to pay the full cost of therapy or the co-pay.”
Can people get Free Therapy Sessions?
At the end of the day, though, Baksh said that some people just simply don’t have the money to budget for therapy – for example, if they are unemployed. If this is the case, Baksh recommends putting yourself on a waiting list for free community resources that may be available. “In our area, folks can dial 211 to get access to or receive more information on these services,” said Baksh, who is located on the Treasure Coast of Florida.
“Unfortunately, most people wait until it’s a crisis before seeking out these resources,” Baksh continued. “For example, with depression, you will have up cycles where you feel good, and you will have down cycles, where you don’t feel like doing anything. Sign up for community resources during an up cycle, so that you will (hopefully) be able to gain access to them before a down cycle hits.” By doing so, you are putting forth the effort (in lieu of money) and are more likely to stick with it and see results.
Above all, remember the reason why you are in therapy (or thinking about it). It’s to heal, to acquire better-coping skills, and/or to move your life forward in a positive direction. Therefore, therapy is not just another expense. It’s an investment in yourself. And what could possibly be a better use of your time and money?
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