Psychotherapy fees are usually high (Read more about fee disclosure in therapy) and, unfortunately, often are hardly affordable for many people. When you feel that you badly need professional help but not sure how you can afford it, there are some strategies that might help:
1) Negotiate the fee with the prospective therapist you are going to interview
No, I am not kidding. Many therapists will negotiate their fees with you, if you ask them, especially in this economy. Some of them wouldn’t even wait for you to ask. They would let you know that they are willing to “slide” the fee. If they do that, give them a counteroffer by “sliding” their fee considerably. If they are not happy with your counteroffer, they will give you their counteroffer that is usually the lowest amount they are willing to charge and you will have to either accept it or look for a better deal.
On a personal note, this kind of bargaining makes me smile. I’ve come from an Eastern culture, where bargaining is not only acceptable but highly encouraged. Some sellers would even be offended if you don’t bargain their prices, so the bargaining process can take a long time, as both, the seller and the buyer, enjoy it very much. In the United States, people feel uncomfortable with bargaining and want to reach the deal as fast as possible. I am only saying this because I know that many of you, who were born and raised in the US, may not even think that the prices for many products/services can be reduced if you ask for it, therapy services included.
2) Contact graduate schools and universities that have psychology programs
Such schools often have their own low-fee counseling centers, where you can see an intern-therapist. Don’t be put off by the word “intern.” A psychotherapy intern is not someone, who brings his supervisor coffee and does their paperwork. A psychotherapy intern is actually a therapist, who starts doing their professional work on the first day of their internship. The only real difference between a psychotherapy intern and a so-called “well-seasoned” licensed therapist is the experience, which is an important but not necessarily a definitive factor in how well the therapist does the work. I’ve seen interns, who were very good at what they were doing, and I’ve also seen well-established therapists with many years of experience, who, frankly, were not. Of course, experience matters, but sometimes the intern’s lack of experience is compensated by their genuine emotional involvement and desire to help. However, this could be a double edged sword, because sometimes the therapist’s emotional involvement with clients’ problems can be counterproductive too. All that means that seeing an intern could be a hit and miss experience, but so could be seeing a licensed therapist. An intern, on the other hand, will cost you less than a licensed professional, who practices independently.
3) Consider attending a support group instead of therapy
This, in my opinion, is a great option when you have limited funds. It will give you some of the benefits of professional therapy because the group will offer you a supportive and compassionate environment and it will be much less costly than therapy for sure. The support of other group members may have even a better therapeutic effect than the therapist’s support, because we tend to trust positive feedback more when we know that we are not paying the person, who gives it.
4) Consider online therapy
Now, I have to say that I don’t really know if online therapy is really a less costly option, but I assume it could be as those therapists, who provide it, don’t have office rental expenses. In any case, it could be a convenient option if you are very shy, if you suffer from agoraphobia, if you are disabled and in other instances, when getting out of your home is problematic for you. Online therapy or e-therapy is getting more and more popular because of its convenience and, as the number of entities providing e-therapy is increasing, it’s fair to assume that the competition will drive down the prices.