While the stigma related to receiving mental health counseling is beginning to diminish (Thanks Obama. And Pope Francis. And a bunch of other celebrities.), there’s still one huge barrier to getting therapy for many people. It’s too expensive!
They say therapy is an investment, and you’re worth it, right? I may be worth it, but what if my bank account is a little lacking? Considering that the median checking account balance for people making less than $25,000 per year is about $500 (and the average rent is more than double that), there’s not much wiggle room for those pesky things like, oh, I don’t know, HEALTH CARE. Especially mental health care.
Since nearly 44 million Americans experience mental illness each year (that’s 1 out of every 5 people), this is a big problem. People need affordable or even free counseling options to help cope with common issues like anxiety and depression, as well as major life events such as divorce and loss of a loved one. But with a single therapy session costing anywhere from $100-200 and the need for multiple sessions, how are you supposed to afford it? How can you get free therapy in North Carolina?
Why Is Therapy So Expensive?
First, why does a single therapy session cost so much when all the therapist does is sit and talk to you? Couldn’t a friend do the same thing?
Short answer: no.
Long answer: Mental health counselors receive in-depth training on theories, frameworks, and techniques like human growth and development, clinical assessment, etiology and diagnosis, attachment styles, psychoanalysis, person-centered therapy, Gestalt psychology, cognitive behavioral therapy, motivational interviewing, internal family systems, dialectical behavior therapy, Gottman method, EMDR, relational therapy, and many, many more.
So, it’s really no joke that therapists are sometimes called “head doctors.” It takes about 11 years to become a medical doctor and about 9 years to become a mental health counselor. No one thinks it’s weird to pay medical doctors a bunch of money for their expertise. So why is it weird to pay therapists so much? Because unfortunately, our society simply doesn’t value mental health as much as physical health.
Insurance may help cover some counseling costs. But even if you have health insurance, many plans don’t adequately cover mental health treatment. And with all the hoops insurance companies require therapists to jump through, many have stopped accepting insurance altogether.
What Does Sliding Scale Therapy Mean?
It’s basically income based therapy. The fee structure varies by therapist, but it’s typically designed with a specific fee for a set range of incomes. For example, a therapist may normally charge $100 per session, but they reduce their rate to $60 for people making less than $25,000 annually.
This is helpful for people with a low income, but what if you literally cannot afford to pay a dime for therapy? Maybe you’re unemployed, underemployed, or disabled. It doesn’t matter what your situation is, you deserve to receive mental health care whenever you need it.
How Do I Find a Sliding Scale Therapist?
If reduced therapy fees would be helpful for you, check out Open Path. You pay a $59 one-time fee to access their collective of therapists, then you’re charged between $30 and $60 per counseling session. They offer both in-person and online counseling.
You can also search for local therapists that offer a sliding scale on GoodTherapy.
How Can I Get Free Therapy in North Carolina?
North Carolina is the 9th most populous state in the country, but we rank 44th for access to mental health care. And less than half of people in North Carolina who need mental health care receive any form of mental health treatment.
If you’re one of those people who needs mental health care but can’t access it due to financial constraints, this list of mental health clinics located throughout the state might help. There are 164 of them, all offering low cost, sliding scale, or even free services. You can also try this list of free or low cost counselors in North Carolina.
Free Mental Health Services in Charlotte, NC
Psychology for All is based on Charlotte, so we’ve got the hookup here. Fill out our application packet to see if you qualify for free counseling in Charlotte through our network of providers.
You might also check out Monarch. It’s the largest provider of behavioral health services for non-insured individuals in Mecklenburg County. Psychology for all is a great alternative for people who would like to be treated closer to their home, at a smaller more specialized practice, and for issues that are time limited.
You can also find free and low cost clinics in Mecklenburg County on the county website. The Charlotte chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness can help you find free mental health services in Charlotte, too. And if you’ve been impacted by sexual abuse, Brave Step is a local nonprofit that can help regardless of your financial situation.
How Can I Get Help If I Still Can’t Afford Therapy?
Don’t give up. You still have options.
If you’re in need of free mental health services in Charlotte, NC, fill out our client application packet to get started. We’re regularly approached by people seeking free counseling in Charlotte, and we’re here to help.