By David Joel Miller.
Is the cost keeping you from getting help?
No doubt that therapy does cost and it would be easy to tell yourself that you can’t afford it. Most people who do check it out find that the costs of therapy can be a lot less than they thought and that the cost of avoiding it can be way more than what the therapy would have cost in the first place.
You may be surprised to find how affordable some kinds of counseling can be. Going for therapy may actually be cheaper than not going. There are some ways to get the cost of seeing a therapist down in the same way you can shop for other things and find ways to save. More on that later.
Some hypothetical examples may help explain this cost versus benefits problem.
The cost of relationship counseling.
A couple is having problems in their relationship. They try to fix this by going on a few date nights. She gets her hair done. He buys tickets to a show and they go to dinner. During the date night, they get in an argument and go home mad at each other. The fight carries over and neither gets much sleep. They have spent a lot of money and their relationship is in worse shape than before.
Note in this example that the hairdresser’s hourly rate may well be higher than the psychotherapists. The auto mechanic and the guy who does your taxes all charge as much or more than the therapist. Also, the dinner and tickets will easily cost more than a visit to the therapist.
Another couple, same problem, went away for the weekend to the coast or it could be the casino. Someone drank too much or gambled too much, they fought and the result is a lot of money spent and no improvement in the relationship.
When you compare the cost of therapy with a lot of the ways couples go about avoiding therapy the avoidance is a lot more expensive.
This is not to mention that the hourly rate of the divorce and child custody lawyers will top all the other professionals I have mentioned so far.
Why then do people avoid the work of repairing relationships or themselves and then have to spend the large sums for lawyers to end these relationships?
Counseling for substance problems.
Seeing a professional to explore your drinking and other substance use problems, to see why you are overdoing things and reduce or quit that behavior is a whole lot cheaper than the cost of the DUI. But people put off the cost of repairing themselves or their relationship until they hit the wall and are required to do a program or go to counseling in order to avoid jail or loss of their children.
How might you make therapy more affordable?
Often seeing a counselor for psychotherapy costs a lot less than people think. The days of going to your analyst weekly for years have been replaced by a lot of counselors that do very brief therapy.
The average client going to a private therapist goes for about 6 sessions. The usual and customary rate for these sessions depends on the therapist and also on what they pay for their office and other expenses. I have seen figures from $50 per hour to $200 per hour.
Figure the middle figure ($100 per hour) and would it be worth $600 to repair your marriage, avoid a DUI or keep your child from getting expelled from school?
But there may be a bargain in the making. Some of you have health insurance. The cost to you, if your plan covers your problem, will be a co-pay of say $20 per session. That brings the cost of the typical therapy program down to $120. That sounds doable for a lot more of you.
Under the new laws, this started way before the current Affordable Health Care Act (Obama Care), private insurance companies are supposed to provide the same benefits for mental health and substance abuse that they do for physical health coverage. This is referred to as Parity.
So in the future, more people are going to find that they can see a therapist at very little out-of-pocket costs if they are just willing to pick one that is on their insurance companies in-network list. This means that the therapist has signed a contract with the insurance company to see their clients.
But there is more, therapy may be FREE!
Many of you will have an EAP (Employee Assistance Plan) at work. This plan probably includes seeing a therapist – for FREE! I am on some of these panels and I like doing this kind of work.
The client comes in for marriage counseling, anger issues or substance abuse. The EAP usually has a check list of what we are going to work on. The client gets 5-6 or 12 sessions at NO CHARGE! We agree up front to try in that few sessions to find a way to reduce this clients issues to a manageable level.
What if you have no job, no health insurance and no EAP? Say you also know that you cannot pay $600 cash without giving up eating. This means that you have no extra money for hair appointments or trips and nights out. (Otherwise we are talking about your priorities and that you don’t want to spend money on therapy not that you really can’t.)
There is a bunch of ways that you can get very low or no cost counseling.
For more on those kinds of services see the counselorssoapbox post –
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