Look, if you’re here, then as Big Freedia says, “U ALREADY KNOWWW” that you need some therapy. You already know that you want to work with me, probably. You might have nearly booked your INTRODUCTORY CALL…
But you need an answer first. You’re need to know, “How am I going to pay for this?”
So I’m going to help you figure out how to afford therapy, even if it’s not with me. I’m going to do this in a way that is thorough and not stressful.
Spoiler: I do not provide a sliding scale option or discounted services. If you read through to the end though, I’ll give you lots of suggestions on how to get that type of reduced fee elsewhere.
Ok, let’s do this.
How Clients Afford Intensive Trauma Treatment
Option A: You can cover your specialized EMDR sessions yourself, without any insurance involvement.
If you got it like that, or know someone who can help, and you know that I’m your therapist, this option is a no-brainer. I will break down the session fees in advance of your first appointment, so you can know exactly what to expect.
This option is also great if you don’t want to have your mental health issues recorded on your insurance file. “Why would I care about that?” you ask? Well, maybe you don’t want your job or family to know that you’re getting therapy or have a mental health diagnosis. Or maybe you want to work on something that isn’t a healthcare need, like your personal growth or a big job performance goal. Reasons abound, but those are the most common. Paying out of your own pocket is the best way to keep your business to yourself.
You might also consider covering your own mental health care costs if you have an insurance plan that has notoriously long wait times, mandatory groups, or regular interruptions. I shall name no names that rhyme with Geyser.
When we’re working in an intensive format, to plan our meetings AND our breaks in advance. You’ll have time to adjust your budget if needed. And if you need weekly care, but can’t afford to add that to our work, we can collaborate to find you a weekly therapist in your price range. Whether you have insurance or not.
Option B: You can use your HSA/FSA benefits.
Some employers provide an HSA or FSA account that works like a pre-tax bank account. This money is specifically set aside to cover out-of-pocket healthcare costs. You can use it for your prescriptions, to restock your first-aid kit, and to get therapy! If you have an HSA or FSA as part of your job, talk to your HR administrator to see how to cover therapy with that account. Sometimes you need a receipt or “superbill” for your records, which I’m happy to provide.
Option C: You can use your “Out-of-Network” benefits.
Can I use my insurance for this?
I’m so glad you asked!
If you have insurance, and if your insurer is a PPO plan, you have an insurance plan that gives you more flexibility to choose your medical and mental health professionals. In other words, you don’t have to go to the therapists on the insurance company’s directory (these are called “In-Network Providers”). You can go “Out-of-Network” or “OON.” So yes, you can use your insurance to cover a significant portion of the fee.
Usually, this means paying the full session fee up front and then submitting a receipt to your insurance company so that they’ll reimburse you.
HOWEVER, when you think about trying to get money from your insurance company every single time you go to therapy don’t your eyes just glaze over? Well, that’s why you see so many therapists ending their contracts and going “out-of-network,” like me. We have been handling the insurance hassle for decades, but it takes away our time and focus from the best part of the job: helping people like you!
I’ve done my best to find us a helper since this Out-of-Network option isn’t automatically easier for you,. It’s called ADVEKIT. We can work with this service so that you get your discount up front. No paperwork hassles for either of us! If you want to use your PPO coverage Out-of-Network with a simplified option, you can sign up here.
“Ok, So What If None of These Options Work For Me?”
Options For Good Therapy When You Can’t Go OON.
Sometimes, you don’t have OON benefits or can’t use them because it still costs too much. This doesn’t mean you can’t see a good therapist.
Option A: Seek In-Network Providers
If you have insurance coverage, call the number on the back of your insurance card and ask for 3-5 names and numbers that are “In-Network”. This is a term that describes people who have signed a contract to take your insurance and only collect the deductibles and/or copays that apply to you. Then the provider waits for the insurance company to pay for the service later.
Your insurance company may have directed you to their online directory. These directories are often so out of date that they have literally become the subject of lawsuits. So, I always recommend that you call the insurance company on the phone and ask them to verify in real time with you that the therapists they are suggesting are still In-Network.
You can also use directories like inclusivetherapists.com, therapyforblackgirls.com, therapyden.com and filter by insurance type.
Option B: Look for a therapist who has “sliding scale” or reduced-fee openings.
Like I said at the jump, I do not provide a sliding scale option or discounted services. I have multiple reasons for that. But a sliding scale is not a bad thing, it’s just not a thing I offer. If it’s something you want though, I recommend that you check out Open Path Collective. They can match you with therapists who have agreed to reduced fees.
You’ll need to prepare to pay a one-time fee ($59 to date) to the website. You’ll want to be ready to report your household finances and be prepared for a rate change if your income changes.
Because lots of people want this option, these sessions fill up quickly. So, if you’re hoping to work with a therapist on a sliding scale, contact a few therapists who confirm their sliding scale option on their website, and prepare to be join a waitlist.
Option C: Check with your state and county to see what other services you’re eligible for.
The easiest way to access your public mental health services in any U.S. state you live in is to dial 988. In California, 211 can also direct you to local county mental agencies. They keep a network of agencies that have contracts with the county or state. Those contracts allow them to charge you less or nothing at all. They control costs in ways you might notice: with busier lobbies, new-graduates on staff, less comfortable environments, or strict session time limits. Worthy compromises to serve as many people as possible.
Our local Medi-Caid (Medical/IEHP) also has a strong relationship with many licensed providers who you can see directly. If you are medi-caid eligible, your medi-caid benefits should also cover mental health care. Contact the appointment number on your card or mail for more help.
Option D: Work with an “associate,” “trainee,” or “intern” therapist who is not licensed yet.
Be open to doing work with a newer therapist. You can look for the terms “associate marriage and family therapist” or “psychology intern” for example and find a professional who doesn’t have their license yet but are still trained to provide therapy.
You might be nervous to try therapy with a someone who isn’t licensed yet but I highly recommend that you give it a chance. The nice thing about working with a pre-licensed therapist is that they have a licensed supervisor that they can ask for guidance at any time. In most agencies, someone is double-checking this person’s work regularly. And new counselors come to this work at every age and stage of life, so while their profile might say “trainee,” their life experiences could be “expert.”
Option E: Look for support groups and therapy groups.
If you add “group” to your Google searches (e.g. “grief group” or “post-partum anxiety group”), you’ll find gatherings of people who get what you’re going through. They can be local or even online. So if you don’t find something close, add “virtual” to your search to see a broader range of options.
The Option I Can’t Recommend (Yet): Therapy Subscription Apps
There’s still a lot of questionable things occurring in high-tech therapy subscriptions. Again, I won’t name any names but the biggest players to date sound sort of like Hetter-Belp or SalkTace.
These platforms still have a long way to go to be consistently positive experiences for therapists and clients. So, they might be great in the future. But if you can live without the promise of 24/7 texting right now, the same monthly cost of these platforms, invested in weekly therapy, can take you just as far with more consistency and more privacy.
I KNOW I’m missing some great options so feel free to reach out to me to make a recommendation. This list, though well-researched, could never be exhaustive, so stay creative as you figure out what works for you.
And if you’ve been knowing deep down that I’m your therapist, then I say with all the love in my heart, GET ON MY CALENDAR.
If I’m not your therapist, pick an option that works for you and go find them! Don’t get discouraged. There really are helpful options out there for all types of situations, just decide what things you can compromise on and what things you can be flexible about.
You might have a little more waiting to do if you want to pay less. Or you might need to talk to someone right away so you can sacrifice some privacy and go to a larger clinic or group. But explore every option and don’t be shy about compromise.
Your life, mind, and body is worth the effort.