How Much is Therapy Without Insurance?

If you've been struggling with the idea of whether or not to seek out therapy because of the price tag, you’re not alone. You’re also not wrong; therapy can be expensive. If recent estimates gave you sticker shock, it’s important to understand why they’re so high to help justify the cost.  Remember that therapists undergo extensive education and training. The profession requires a master’s degree at minimum, and many therapists go further by investing their time and money in doctorates, medical degrees, and other forms of specialized study. Simply maintaining a license requires costly ongoing education; therapists in private practice also cover their own liability insurance and office rentals.

That said, costs shouldn't get in the way of getting the help and resources you need. Many are under the impression that therapy is inaccessible unless you have a health insurance plan that covers services, and even then, it’s restricted to in-network providers. However, there are plenty of ways to find a therapist that has a financial solution to fit your life. 

How much will a therapist session cost?

Before starting an ongoing treatment plan, it is essential to understand the different ways therapists charge for counseling services. Mental health professionals charge either per hour or per session, with fixed or fluctuating prices on a sliding scale based on your income. Community mental health clinics typically cost less than a therapist in a private practice. The number of sessions you book, where you live, and your health insurance provider can also affect your bottom line. Additionally, your current mental health condition will determine which type of therapist you'll need to see, and how expensive a specialist might be.

Therapist rates average $90 per hour, with most charging between $60 and $120 per session. If you live somewhere like New York or Los Angeles, standard rates for counseling services can jump up to $250 per hour.

Another key variable is whether you qualify for sliding scale therapy. For example, if you make less than a set amount (i.e., $60,000 per year), you could benefit from one-hour therapy sessions for as little as $75 knocked down from a therapist's standard rate of $150 per hour. Each therapist and practice will decide whether or not they offer a sliding scale fee, and if they do, how much it will be.  

Will my insurance cover therapy?

In general, does insurance cover therapy? Did you know that most health insurance providers are legally bound to cover therapy? It’s true. Across the United States, specific laws such as the mental health parity law require certain health insurance plans to cover therapy for mental health problems, just as they would cover physical therapy. Now, how much they cover is not as standardized. Some insurers are generous with their mental health coverage, while many others require you to pay most of it out of pocket. 

Anyone who purchased insurance through the Affordable Care Act has access to some level of mental health care. Those who obtain insurance coverage through their employers are also often covered. Therapists who are in panel with insurance companies would be considered “in-network,” which means if you typically pay a $50 copay to see your doctor, the cost to see a psychologist will not be any higher. 

When it comes to using insurance for therapy services, you have some options. If you currently have health insurance, you may pay as little as $20 to $50 per therapy session if that is what you now pay regarding your insurance copay rate. The only drawback to this affordable rate is that, in many cases, your insurance company will either select a therapist for you or make you choose one from a pool of in-network providers. You can always contact various local therapists to inquire about the insurance companies they work with when looking for a therapist who is covered on your plan and discuss all of your therapy insurance coverage options. That said, all insurance plans are different, so to better understand what you need to pay individually, you should inquire about your current deductibles, copays, and coinsurance, as well as any out-of-pocket costs.

Those without health insurance may worry about how to get therapy without insurance, but it is possible. Instead of selecting a therapist from a pool of in-network providers or having an insurer choose, you seek out and contact the mental health professional directly. Now, you could be wondering, how much does therapy cost without insurance? If you do not have medical insurance, you can expect to pay the standard rate set by your local therapist, psychologist, or psychiatrist. As mentioned, this rate could be anywhere from $50 to $250+ per hour-session.  

Types of Therapy Means Different Pricing

If you are seeking mental health treatment for a specific condition or circumstance, here's what you need to know about pricing.

Individual Therapy Cost

The cost of private, individual therapy will depend on where you live and, in some cases, your income if you’re paying using a sliding scale. On average, you can expect to pay at least $150 per hour session, as individual therapy is often the most expensive. Some therapists might be able to work with you at a lower rate depending on the circumstance.

Couples Therapy Cost

In general, counselors specializing in couples and family therapy charge between $70 and $250 per hour. Where you reside will impact the price you pay, as standard rates vary across the country. For example, in the San Francisco Bay Area, a couple can expect to pay anywhere between $120 and $250 per hour. Couples therapy is more expensive than individual therapy because there are two people instead of one. You can expect sessions to be a bit longer because of this, which also accounts for the increase in cost.

When it comes to strengthening the relationship, individual therapy is excellent for addressing personal emotional triggers, but couples counseling allows you and your partner to work through issues and arrive at solutions together, rather than trying to process issues within the relationship on your own.

Group Therapy Cost

Some counseling centers and therapists offer group therapy when they feel that the group’s collective experiences can help the individuals instead of, or in addition to, individual treatment. Group members encourage each other, form better communication skills concerning their needs and struggles, and provide a sounding board for their individual thought processes.

If you're aiming to lower the costs associated with counseling, group therapy may be an ideal option to start. For example, instead of paying $200 per session, multi-session group therapy rates are often available –– which could be as low as $700 per 8-week course.

Depression Therapy

As researchers learn more about depression, it's becoming more apparent that a combination of talk therapy and prescribed medication is generally required. In terms of how much depression therapy costs, the final rate will depend on the severity of your depression in relation to your treatment needs. If you do not have insurance and do not qualify for sliding scale therapy, expect to pay between $100 and $200 per hour to see a psychiatrist. The cost of depression medication will be extra.

Grief Counseling Cost

Grief counseling is typically offered at the same rates associated with psychologists, generally between $70 and $150 per hour. Since bereavement does not qualify as a mental health disease, your insurance plan may not cover it.

Average Cost of Anger Management Classes

Depending on where you go for anger management classes, you will likely pay between $50 and $150 per session. There are various programs available, and in some cases, you can participate in an all-day group anger management program for as little as $200.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Cost

If your insurance plan covers behavioral medicine or psychotherapy, your premium may cover most, if not all, of your therapy. In comparison, private practices will generally charge around $200 per session.

Cost of Counseling By Specialist

If you're wondering what the average cost of therapy is, it's important to consider different specializations. Just as there are different approaches depending on the mental health issue, there are therapists with different specializations that require additional education, certification, or training, which can increase the cost of treatment.

Psychiatrist Cost

First, let’s note the difference between a psychiatrist and a therapist, counselor, or psychologist. Unlike the former three, a psychiatrist holds a medical degree. A psychiatrist is essentially a medical doctor qualified to treat the psychological and physical symptoms associated with various mental health conditions. This includes treatment related to substance abuse disorders. In most cases, a psychiatrist will work with their patient's doctor and psychologist to implement the best possible treatment strategy that will reap the most mental health benefits. Unlike psychologists, psychiatrists can treat patients with medication.

Typically, a psychiatrist costs more than a psychologist, because of this medical background. Although each practice differs, you can expect to pay between $300 to $500 for your initial consultation, followed by at least $100 per hour as you move forward with your treatment plan without insurance coverage. On average, across the country, this rate is closer to $200 per hour. 

Psychologist Cost

While a psychologist is not a medical doctor, many hold a Ph.D, which gives them a different background than a therapist or counselor with a master’s degree in social work. In most cases, psychologists will work with patients while continuing to focus on their research. Psychologists will usually specialize in a specific area, which is what influences their ongoing research. Although psychologists do not prescribe medication, they do offer various types of evidence-based therapy options. For example, psychotherapy is an effective strategy that helps patients overcome distressing, problematic thoughts and behaviors.

Seeing a psychotherapist generally costs around $100 per session, with rates increasing among those who hold higher qualifications. Depending on your location, you may gain access to an hour of talk therapy for as little as $60 -- with rates reaching as high as $300 in large cities. Private health insurance plans may cover these fees. However, in most cases, only select mental health services are covered for a certain amount of time.

There are many psychotherapy models available, including cognitive-behavioral therapy, interpersonal therapy, and dialectical behavior therapy. In some cases, psychotherapy is short-term to address select issues (i.e., 15 sessions or less), while long-term psychotherapy plans are implemented when dealing with more complex, long-standing problems.

Similar to psychiatrists, psychologists typically charge anywhere from $70 to $150 per session. In select regions across the country, the standard rate is $250 per one-hour session, as recommended by the Association for Psychological Science. However, many psychologists will offer a sliding scale fee based on your specific income level.

Cost of Counseling

Individuals seek counseling for many reasons, focusing on social, psychological, or personal difficulties. Unlike ongoing therapy treatment, counseling may focus on problem-solving or learning specific techniques for coping with or avoiding problem areas. Counseling is also usually more short-term than therapy. Psychotherapy is more long-term than counseling and focuses on a broader range of issues. 

When you speak with a general counselor, expect to spend between $50 and $80 per session. Some offices will offer individuals access to student counselors who are available for as little as $20 per hour. These low rates are most often accessible to those living in low-income households. A student counselor is typically supervised by a registered psychologist who has a minimum of five years of experience.

While therapy may be considered an additional expense for you, it is really an investment in your health by paying for a professional service that focuses on life-altering treatment options. Whether you have insurance or not, Advekit can help you navigate the process and help you find a great therapist who matches your specific needs and budget.

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