Therapy Without Insurance: Affordable Options In 2021

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Therapy Without Insurance

As society shifts its attitude on prioritizing mental healthcare and removes the stigma of seeking therapy practices, one challenge remains. When you need specific health services and are looking for treatment without insurance, it can prove challenging. Thankfully, there are solutions like online therapy and other resources to receive affordable and quality healthcare.

Seeking out therapy services from a reputable, empathetic, and quality healthcare provider may take some effort. The demand for various therapy services has continued to rise as people realize the need to acknowledge and treat their health issues.

The most important takeaway is that it is possible to receive therapy without health insurance, depending on the provider. Some health services provide clients with sliding scale therapy. There are alternatives for therapy services, including local colleges, universities, and non-profit organizations. Also, as employers recognize the need to support employees to increase retention and strengthen the community, some companies will happily cover therapy services.

How Much Is Therapy Without Insurance?

The cost depends on the specific type of service rendered and the provider. However, the average price ranges between $60 to $200, up to $250 for an hour-long session. Clients without insurance can also sign-up for low-cost therapy or find free services.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is a familiar form of talk therapy clients seek. CBT is usually provided on a sliding scale for clients with insurance or averages $100 to $200 hourly without coverage.

Existential therapy still maintains its relevance since Freud, as clients without insurance pay an average of $125 to $200 per session or a flexible payment with insurance. Psychodynamic therapy has been scrutinized to the point that most insurance won’t cover it, and typically clients pay a sliding scale cost.

Dialectical Behavior Therapy is a modification of CBT, with the average cost for insurance-covered clients being $50 to $150 per session and $150 to $300 without coverage. Client-centered therapy lets clients be part of the therapy process and averages $0 to $250 without insurance or $20 to $50 with insurance coverage.

Types of therapyAverage cost with insurance/sessionAverage cost without insurance/session
Cognitive Behavioral TherapySliding Scale $100 to $200
Existential TherapyDepends on Insurance$125 to $200
Psychodynamic TherapyMost Insurance DeniesSliding Scale
Dialectical Behavior Therapy$50 to $150$150 to $300
Client-Centered Therapy$20 to $50$0 to $250

How Has Therapy Changed Over The Years?

The amount spent on mental health and substance abuse has continued to grow over the years. In 2009, the total projected spending was $171.7 billion[1]. In 2020, the projected number spent was $280.5 billion. The amount of growth annually spent on treatment was 4.6 percent from 2009 to 2020 and is projected to slow.

The cost and accessibility of therapy and mental healthcare services in America[2] have a complex history. There are barriers[3], including a shortage of mental health professionals to meet demand, and more resources are concentrated in urban areas than rural locations. Also, clients and health professionals face challenges with insurance coverage, out-of-pocket payment for sessions, and making counseling affordable.

What Factors Affect The Cost Of Therapy?

The price for therapy services depends on one’s geographical location, whether a client is seeking services at a private practice or public organization, and the experience and education of the therapist. Specific types of therapy may be more expensive than others.

How To Get Therapy Without Insurance?

Local agencies offer therapy for the uninsured, helpful resources, and confidential support when in need of health care services. You can call a national helpline, ask for information by dialing 4-1-1, or look online for non-profit organizations, colleges, and hospitals that provide therapy without insurance.

The cost of therapy or a lack of insurance should not stop anyone seeking mental health services or a trusted professional to speak with about any concerns. There are individuals, organizations, and employers who are doing their part to reduce the stigma associated with emotional or mental health issues and provide support. Many licensed therapists and counselors offer sliding scale payments for sessions or refer clients to services with no cost. A client’s ability to receive therapy and address any personal struggles, mental, emotional, or physical concerns is essential to maintaining one’s health.

Sliding Scale Therapy

If successfully paying for therapy is a challenge, many healthcare providers allow clients to pay using a sliding scale[4]. The fees charged for a therapy session are determined according to a client’s financial need and ability to pay. Spending a specified amount that will not add to a client’s financial burden makes therapy more accessible to address mental health concerns.

Before determining a feasible rate for a client, most therapists require that a client undertake a consultation. The consultation may be free or low-cost so that the client and healthcare provider can better understand the therapy process, the type of counseling offered, and even provide referrals. 

The cost for therapy ranges from $60 to $120, $100 to $150, or $175 to $225, depending on the location and therapist’s credentials. Flexible payments[5] allow for greater access to therapy, as some professionals offer services for $30 to $80 per session.

Local College and University Services

Colleges and universities are a valuable resource for low-cost therapy[6] for conditions like post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, anxiety, and general concerns. Students who are studying psychology, psychiatry, or practitioners in training offer therapy services at discounted rates. Many schools will provide clients with counseling using sliding scales, while more experienced professionals supervise the students.

Going to a college or university to sign up for therapy allows clients the opportunity to access short-term or even free therapy or counseling. Because everyone is not comfortable going to a student who is still training and learning about therapy and related services and health conditions, clients are likely to get more attention than private practices. 

In addition to seeing graduate-level students under supervision for therapy[7], you may even be able to get services from a professional with a master’s or doctoral degree. Consider contacting the nearest local university or college to inquire about any available programs or clinics providing a range of inexpensive therapy services.

Support Groups

Sometimes the power to heal works best when in a support group. Many clients discover helpful solutions and a sense of connectedness to others who share similar health issues within a support group. Many support groups focus on a single health problem, such as alcohol abuse, eating disorders, grief, and other major life-altering issues.

It is possible to connect to support groups in your local area or online. Unlike clients seeking individual counseling with one-on-one sessions, support groups provide a safe space for multiple people to help aid the healing process everyone in the group is actively undertaking. 

Compared to individual therapy, the ability to hear and share others’ journeys, opinions, and coping strategies while struggling with cancer, mental illness, or quitting an addictive substance builds a sense of community[8]

Many people involved in support groups find them to be quite helpful and make clients feel less isolated about the issues they are seeking to address. Additionally, support groups often focus on developing healthy skills and methods to deal with the group’s particular focus.

Employee Assistance Program

More companies recognize the need to provide emotional support to their workforce and employees rather than stigmatizing mental health needs and treatments. Professional counselors or counseling services can be accessed through an employee assistance program or EAP.  

Whether an employee is dealing with family problems, struggling with addiction or substance abuse, or needs a trusted person to help reduce stress, EAP-provided therapy can help. Providing employees connections to professional medical advice without stigma and full support is a smart business move.

According to sources like the International Employee Assistance Professional Assistance, 95percent of employers with over 5,000 workers have EAPs. EAP therapy[9] is often provided by EAPs offsite of a firm or company to further maintain privacy and confidentiality.

Most employees who receive therapy from an EAP counselor connect to licensed therapists with an educational background in social work, addiction counseling, psychology, and other disciplines. An EAP can be of service if the need to cope with workplace incidents, grief, mental health concerns, or substance abuse is present.

Online Therapy

The advent of virtual therapy makes health services more accessible at a lower cost than in-person therapy does. Today, apps allow one to connect to live therapists in real-time or rely on Artificial Intelligence to help clients navigate their concerns.

In most instances, online sessions are conducted via a live chat or video chat. The way the treatment works virtually is similar to in-person services. Some online therapy is available for free or offers a clinical trial, while others require paying a subscription weekly or monthly.

Cyber-therapy and text therapy are on the rise because it is relatively inexpensive and easy to connect. Some people may feel uncomfortable traveling to a licensed therapist in person, so offering online sessions may be more beneficial.

Before signing up for online therapy, it is vital to check that the therapist is licensed via the state and a professional. Also, clients will want to know that their information is confidential and what is said in therapy stays in therapy.

Non-profit Organizations

The best way to seek out non-profit organizations that offer therapy is online or via calling a hotline. Charities and non-profits of all sorts will provide treatment to address substance abuse, grief, trauma, anxiety, depression, and other common health issues.

Non-profits are:

  • A source of therapy on a budget for many.
  • Providing sliding scale therapy.
  • Client-based therapy.
  • Focusing on specific concerns.

Most non-profits offering health services promote a greater awareness of common health concerns and reduce stigmatization[10] of seeking services amongst the public.

Interested persons seeking therapy can call trained professionals via a crisis hotline, schedule appointments at nearby locations, and even connect to support groups. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline can help a client in a time of need and offers a wealth of additional resources for mental health.

Additionally, non-profits often hold fundraisers, seminars and accept donations. The efforts of non-profits are focused on informing the public and rallying support for research, treatments, and education surrounding mental health.

Examples of non-profits of interest include Postpartum Support International, Freedom From Fear, Beacon Tree Foundation, and the National Alliance on Mental Illness.

What Therapist Says About Therapy Costs

“ There is no set industry standard. The cost of therapy can vary widely.”

According to Stacey Fuller, LMFT[11]

Because some therapists will not accept insurance – also known as being in-network with health insurance, or because rates are determined based on factors like client demand, experience, training, and specialization, there are payment options like sliding scale or prices reflective of private practice.

Therapists and mental healthcare providers are not out to overcharge or deter clients from seeking services. Master Career Counselor and Ph.D. Judy Kaplan Baron[12] responded on being a counselor, “… significantly helping people improve their lives.” as the focal point of her practice.

Most therapists decide upon a fair rate that reflects their education, experience, cost of rent, advertising, professional fees, insurance, and living costs. The prices that a therapist charges help cover essentials they need to continue operating and paying their bills. Often clients pay out-of-pocket or sign-up for sliding scale therapy. Some therapists may direct clients to resources that offer free services as well.

The Bottom Line

The potential sticker shock for weekly therapy sessions should not deter anyone from seeking help. There are plenty of options for anyone struggling with the financial hardship that desires therapy for mental health concerns. Be advised, certain types of treatment may not even be covered by an insurance policy, such as Psychodynamic therapy, which is often paid out-of-pocket.

The average cost of therapy without insurance ranges from $60 to $250, with the median being $100 to $200 per hour. Free or low-cost treatment includes apps or services rendered by non-profits, colleges, or local agencies.

 Frequently Asked Questions

Can I get mental health care without insurance?

A lack of insurance doesn’t have to hinder receiving quality mental health care. Call the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Assistance National Helpline to connect to local providers and resources.

Is there a way to get free therapy?

Some organizations or charities provide therapy at no cost to clients seeking services. However, the specific types of treatment offered may be limited if there is no charge.

How much does therapy cost out of pocket?

The cost for therapy sessions out of pocket depends on the type of treatment sought. Fees run anywhere from $65 to $200 for each session. Typically, each session is an hour long.


+ 12 sources

Health Canal avoids using tertiary references. We have strict sourcing guidelines and rely on peer-reviewed studies, academic researches from medical associations and institutions. To ensure the accuracy of articles in Health Canal, you can read more about the editorial process here

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  7. ‌The AS Review. (2020). Graduate Program Offers Free Counseling to Non-students. [online] Available at: https://asreview.org/2020/03/11/graduate-program-offers-free-counseling-to-non-students/ [Accessed 6 Oct. 2021].
  8. ‌Crabtree, J.W., Haslam, S.A., Postmes, T. and Haslam, C. (2010). Mental Health Support Groups, Stigma, and Self-Esteem: Positive and Negative Implications of Group Identification. Journal of Social Issues, 66(3), pp.553–569.
  9. ‌David, Pompe, J.C. and Lennox, R. (2012). Evaluating the Workplace Effects of EAP Counseling. Umaryland.edu. [online] Available at: https://archive.hshsl.umaryland.edu/handle/10713/7705 [Accessed 6 Oct. 2021].
  10. ‌Clement, S., Lassman, F., Barley, E., Evans-Lacko, S., Williams, P., Yamaguchi, S., Slade, M., Rüsch, N. and Thornicroft, G. (2013). Mass media interventions for reducing mental health-related stigma. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. [online] Available at: https://www.cochranelibrary.com/cdsr/doi/10.1002/14651858.CD009453.pub2/full [Accessed 6 Oct. 2021].
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  12. ‌@CounselingEd. (2020). 25 Rewarding Reasons Why You Should Become a Counselor. [online] Available at: https://onlinecounselingprograms.com/become-a-counselor/25-reasons-why-you-should-become-a-counselor/ [Accessed 6 Oct. 2021].

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Alex Smith is a NY-based content writer who enjoys covering natural health, supporting wellness, personal finance, history, and outdoor living. When he is not behind a keyboard living the wordsmith life, he enjoys visiting landmark destinations and bookstores.

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