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What to do if You Can’t Afford Psychotherapy


I often hear people say that they are hopeless because they cannot afford the cost of therapy – yet they desperately need the help. If you are stuck in a major slump, the last thing you want to worry about is how to get the money to cover the cost of treatment.

Fortunately, there are many ways to get the help you need – therapist or not. Before you give up on the idea of getting some therapeutic help, consider taking the time to find cost-effective treatment or alternatives to therapy.

Sometimes Therapy is Free or Low-Cost

Depending on your problem, there may be funded or subsidized therapy available to you. Many communities have women’s centers that offer free services to women who are being abused. Many have free services for adolescents. Additionally, an increasing number of communities have men’s resource centers to help men with anger management and relationship or vocational problems. Go online and check for information.

Employee Assistance Programs (EAP)

Many businesses and companies offer a limited counseling benefit. Usually the company provides three to six sessions. If you need further help, the counselor will refer you to a local therapist. Check with your human resources department to see if there is an EAP counselor at your workplace. Often even a couple focused sessions are enough to offer some relief.

Sliding Scales and Free Slots

Many mental health clinics and therapists in private practice have sliding fee scales so that people can pay what they can afford. Ask your doctor if he or she knows who offers this service. Call some of the therapists in your area and ask. Many therapists keep a number of slots at a lower rate as their way of giving back to their communities.

Support Groups

Often a support group can be very therapeutic. By talking to people similar problems, you will feel less alone. Often there are people in the group who are a little ahead in their healing and who can offer you good practical advice as well as emotional support. Local hospitals, libraries, churches, and schools often offer support groups for grief, parenting issues, managing chronic illness, etc.

PFLAG (Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays) offers support to those supporting family members and friends who are coming out. There are also support groups online and in the community for gays, lesbians, and transgendered people who need information and advice.

Parent education classes

Not all problems are mental health issues. Parenting is difficult. Often people new to parenting or new to a stage of parenting could benefit from some additional information and the reassurance and advice that can come from parents who have been there and done that. Often such groups are offered through the school system or through local parent centers.

12-step Groups

Alcoholics Anonymous, Al-Anon (for families of problem drinkers) and Alateen (for teenage family members) offer support to people who are struggling with alcoholism and to their families. Other spinoffs include Overeaters Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, and Cocaine Anonymous. If you think a 12-step program is for you, search your issue and “anonymous” and you are likely to find a group.

The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI)

NAMI has chapters throughout the U.S. They often offer support groups for those struggling with mental illness as well as for family members.


There are important hotlines in almost every country. In the U.S., the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-8255) is available 24/7. Google “hotline” and your problem and you are likely to find a number to call.


Bibliotherapy is a fancy name for reading a book. Whatever your problem is, someone else has probably written about it to share their journeys of healing. Sometimes we learn best from reading how someone else did and did not address issues. Search for your issue at one of the major online bookstores and you can find what you are looking for.

Take Care of Yourself

Getting enough sleep, eating right, and making sure you get a little exercise each day can do wonders for your troubles. You may not feel like doing any of it, but you will feel so much better if you force yourself to do it. You will have taken a step toward self-care and self-love, and that is really the basis for any therapeutic action.


Works Cited:

  1. Hartwell, Marie. When You Can’t Afford Psychotherapy. Psych Central. n.d. Web. 8 March 2013.



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Filed under: Recovery, Treatment · Tags: 12-step, AA, al-anon, Alcoholics Anonymous, bibliotherapy, cocaine anonymous, EAP, employee assistance programs, narcotics anonymous, online support, Overeaters Anonymous, Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays, PFLAG, sliding fees, sliding scales, support groups, therapy

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