Ever wonder why therapy is expensive?! One of the top reasons I hear from people for not going to therapy is
“It’s too expensive.”
I’m not going to lie – therapy can be expensive if you can’t use your insurance or an HSA. But what’s the cost of not going to therapy if you’re not blossoming, enjoying relationships, or feeling good about yourself?
In order to understand why therapy is expensive and a worthy investment, let’s look at what goes into the cost of therapy, and what you’re paying for. You’re not paying “just to talk to someone” – you could take to your hairstylist if that were the case! Therapy costs money for a reason. Make sure you’re prepared to get the MOST of your therapy experience. Then, your investment is worth it and you don’t stay in therapy longer than you’ve planned.
Ok so, why is therapy expensive? What goes into the cost?
- Education. Becoming a licensed, practicing therapist requires a Master’s Degree – $$$! Every therapist has gone to graduate school. Some of us are still paying for it (just like many of our clients!). Education gives us the foundational training to work with you from a variety of perspectives and to develop skills to help you.
- Supervision and/or Consultation. I paid for monthly supervision before I got my license in order to provide the best services I could. My supervisor and I reviewed my cases and my strategies. She gave feedback for improvement, considerations, and what my blind spots or biases might be. Now, I still pay to meet with her for consultation. I can gain an outside perspective and be sure that I’m getting advice and ideas for working with you. Every therapist should do this. Otherwise, we risk falling into habits in which we don’t serve our clients as best we could.
- Continuing Education. This is similar to why we go to supervision or consultation! It’s important to stay up to date on the latest treatment strategies, research, or opportunities to help our clients. We have to keep learning, or we’re going to be less helpful. I mentioned before that graduate school is a good foundation to start developing our skills. Continuing education ensures that we continue becoming better therapists.
- Other Types of Professional Development. Similar to continuing education, and sometimes overlapping, so I won’t go on and on here. Professional development includes conferences or events, and help us to continue learning how to provide the best services possible.
- The Usual Overhead – Office space, Record management, etc. Just like any business such as a hairstylist, acupuncturist, masseuse, gym, etc.
FIND THERAPY THAT YOU CAN AFFORD
There are multiple options for finding therapy that you can afford. There are costs to therapy no matter how go about it, but options are available.
First, the way that you’re paying factors into this. Are you using insurance, an HSA, or are you paying out of pocket? If you’re paying out of pocket but cannot afford the typical full fee in your area, Open Path is a great resource for finding sliding scale therapists.
Second, the type of organization and the type of therapy you’re seeking will influence the ultimate cost. Group therapy can be a more affordable option if you are comfortable in groups and you find a group that fits your needs (e.g. a trauma group for trauma, anxiety group for anxiety, etc.). Looking at community groups and resource centers can lead you to community mental health centers that provide free or low cost services.
The most important way to find therapy that you can afford is to be upfront about what you’re looking for and what you can afford when you talk to a potential therapist, and when you’re looking at websites and directories.
You may need sliding scale, or have set a budget in which you can afford a certain number of sessions and want to come in with a plan of action to get the most out of your therapy experience. Let a potential therapist know this right away, so they can help you or find an appropriate referral for you.
WHAT YOU’LL GET OUT OF THERAPY
Typically people seek therapy in order to confront a problem in their life, remove some kind of roadblock or obstacle in achieving goals, manage mental health symptoms, or work on relationships (whether those be with themselves or with others in their life).
When you invest in yourself by going to therapy, and you show up, put in the work, and actively push for change in your own life, you can expect these results:
- Removal of obstacles or roadblocks that are preventing you from achieving goals.
Maybe that roadblock is something like anxiety, depression, sadness, or a nasty relationship. Maybe it’s the way you think of yourself. Whatever it is, it’s not being helpful, and therapy will focus on how you can handle that obstacle while developing the strengths and skills you need in order to accomplish those goals.
- Development of key strengths and skills that will help you improve communication and relationships, as well as achieve other goals in your life.
These skills and goals will be unique to you – with your therapist’s guidance, you will create clear goals and then understand the skills necessary to reach them.
- A stronger understanding of your self, your identity, and how you relate to other people as well as how you relate ideas and emotions.
For example, you may begin to better understand how you relate to your mother (classic psychoanalysis example, I know) and also better understand how you relate to the ideas of work, purpose in your life, marriage, etc. Those are all random examples, so feel free to think of your own. I like to imagine all of these things as a constellation that come together with various connected lines to form an image of my life.
- Reduction of and/or management of red-flag symptoms such as sleep issues, eating issues, negative thinking patterns, and other factors of anxiety, depression, or mental health issues.
I believe that anxiety and depression tend to actually be symptoms themselves (more on that another time, in another post), so we’ll reduce these symptoms by getting to the root of what the heck is actually going on rather than just putting a bandaid on things. (Side note: this takes some times. I wish we could do this overnight, but that’s pretty rare.) This brings me to our next payoff:
- An understanding of what’s going on in your life, how much control you do or don’t have over it, what it requires of you to change something, and the tools to apply this understanding to future issues
This is important because if we just put a band-aid on things, so to speak, then (1) they’re not actually resolved and you won’t experience a long-term difference and (2) you don’t necessarily have any strong tools for the future that allow you to continue self-development and self-management.
There’s more – there’s always more – that we can do together in therapy, but this is the start of it.
Questions? Feedback? We want to hear it.
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