How much does therapy cost?
Therapists charge between $98 and $120 per session, on average, depending on their reputation, experience, specialization and many other factors. Typically, people pay an average of $150 an hour for a therapy session. Based on your location, insurance coverage and other parameters, hourly therapist rates tend to range from $60-$175.
How much is therapy?
National average cost
Average cost range
When estimating therapy costs, you’ll need to decide if you want to attend weekly, bi-weekly or monthly sessions. Depending on how often you plan to see a therapist, costs can add up quickly. The good news is that there are various ways to find affordable (and free) therapy and counseling sessions.
In this guide, we’ll take a closer look at the various factors that impact therapist costs and give you tips on how you can get price estimates from therapists near you.
What’s in this cost guide?
Therapy sessions cost between $98 and $120, on average. However, the final cost of a therapy session depends on the type of therapy, the therapist’s qualifications, location and rates. For instance, therapists in large metropolitan cities may be more expensive because of the higher cost of living in those areas.
While a typical therapy session is 50-55 minutes long, the duration can vary between 45 minutes and one hour. Specialized therapy sessions, such as couples therapy or family counseling, tend to be longer. The cost of a therapy session tends to increase with its duration.
Here are a few cost examples of individual therapy sessions:
- $125 (John Nichols, psychotherapist, M.S., LPC/MHSP in Brentwood, Tennessee)
- $90 (WholeStar Therapy in Denver, Colorado)
- $60 (Cat Russell M.S., LPC in Corpus Christi, Texas)
How much does a therapist cost? Is it possible to afford the expense of recurring therapy sessions? Why do some therapists charge more than others? Are therapists open to negotiating their rates?
These are all questions that start racing through your mind whenever you think about seeking therapy. It’s easy to say that therapy sessions are overpriced and unaffordable for many. But you must understand that good therapists train for years to earn their degrees before they start practicing.
Moreover, they often have to pay for various overheads, such as including rent and utility bills. Some therapists also need to invest in continuous education to retain their license and stay on top of the latest research in their field.
So, before you start looking for a qualified therapist, it’s essential to have a clear understanding of the factors that influence their rates. Some of these factors include:
Type of therapist
From psychodynamic therapy to cognitive behavioral therapy, there are many different approaches therapists use to treat various conditions. Depending on your needs, you can choose from a wide array of services and hire different types of therapists, such as:
- Addiction therapists
- Behavioral therapists
- Child therapists
- Divorce therapists
- Marriage and family therapists
- And many more
Each specialist offers a different kind of service and is suitable for specific mental health disorders. For instance, a patient might need to see a psychiatrist who can prescribe suitable medication.
The National Institute of Mental Health recommends that individuals find a therapist who specializes in their area of need. Some needs are situational, such as divorce, the death of a loved one or a major life change. Professional therapists offer support to individuals and families transitioning through these kinds of changes.
Meanwhile, some people need or want ongoing professional support in dealing with specific mental health care issues, such as clinical depression or bipolar disorder. Other therapists focus on working with young children and teenagers.
Therapist’s reputation and specialization
A therapist’s cost is directly linked to their qualifications, experience and reputation. As a therapist becomes more experienced and sought-after, their rates tend to increase.
Therapists based out of expensive cities will often charge more to cover various expenses, including rent, utilities and office supplies.
The longer a therapy session, the more it’s going to cost you. This is because many therapists bill by the hour instead of charging per session. Make sure you clarify the billing system with the therapist before scheduling an appointment.
The cost of therapy will depend on whether your current insurance plan covers mental health care. You might also have to consider the co-pay amount and deductible involved in your plan.
Your health insurance may or may not cover therapy. The Affordable Care Act makes it mandatory for “most individual and small employer health insurance plans, including all plans offered through the Health Insurance Marketplace, cover mental health and substance use disorder services.”
However, the extent of mental health coverage will vary depending on your plan. If your insurance provider offers mental health coverage, you’ll likely have to choose a therapist from their network.
If you can’t afford therapy or your insurance plan doesn’t cover the cost, there are still ways to seek help. First, if you’ve already found a therapist you like, discuss your financial restrictions with them and see if they can offer a discount. Even if they don’t advertise it, some mental health professionals offer sliding-scale fees for those in need. You could also explore the possibility of paying their fees in installments.
Alternatively, you can approach teaching hospitals and universities in your area that offer mental health programs. These organizations will connect you with trainees and interns who are looking to gain enough experience hours to obtain their license. The interns work under the supervision of a senior mental health professional and offer therapy for free or at a negligible cost.
If you’re a student, you should check with your college/university about the availability of free on-campus therapy. Likewise, working professionals can check with their employers to find out whether they offer employee assistance programs or reimbursement for mental health care.
Lastly, you can also research community mental health clinics that offer low-cost therapy sessions.
Pro tip: Take advantage of the free or low-cost initial consultation that a therapist may offer before diving in. These allow you to get to know the therapist and vice versa before spending the money or engaging for a longer amount of time.
Sliding scale fees
Many therapists offer sliding-scale pricing for their sessions. A sliding scale is usually determined by financial need — clients who are able to demonstrate their income may qualify for lower rates. Not all therapists advertise sliding-scale rates, even when they offer them, so it's always a good idea to ask if this is an option.
Yasmina Mobarek in Seattle, Washington, charges $50-$120 per session, depending on her clients' needs. Dr. Mobarek focuses on a psychoanalytic approach to therapy, and her specialties include marital and premarital counseling, depression, trauma and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Some therapists may offer concentrated programs to address specific issues, such as anger, weight loss, smoking cessation or grief. Sometimes, these programs are offered as a series of sessions in one package, with reduced per-session rates when the package is purchased.
Package sessions give therapists ongoing intensive time to help clients resolve issues that are holding them back. Joan Warren Therapy, for example, offers an eight-week anger management counseling course for $800. Standard therapy sessions are $125, on average, so this package offers a $200 discount.
If you’re struggling with your mental health, therapy may be a viable option to consider. Speak to a mental health professional, and decide how much you’re willing to pay for help. Analyze your monthly income and expenses to determine how much you can afford to pay for therapy. Also, check with your insurance provider and employer to find out what kind of coverage you could get. It’ll help you identify the most affordable option for seeking therapy.
It’s important to assess your preferences and mental health goals before choosing a therapist. Outline your reasons for wanting to visit a therapist, then make a list of the outcomes and goals you want to achieve through therapy.
Next, you can use a platform, such as Thumbtack, to find a list of therapy services in your area. Take a look at their license, qualifications, credentials, reviews, ratings and work experience to understand whether they’re the right fit for your needs. Also, define your monthly therapy budget to identify professionals within the desired price range.
Use Thumbtack to find therapists in your area and request a free cost estimate now.
How long are therapy sessions?
Typically, therapy sessions range between 45 minutes to one hour. However, it’s up to a therapist to decide the optimal session duration.
What is the success rate of therapy?
The success rate of therapy depends on various factors, including the therapist’s experience and your mental health diagnosis. Consult a mental health practitioner and ask about their success rate in treating patients with similar mental health issues as you.
How often should you go for therapy?
At the start of your treatment, you may decide to visit a therapist just once a month, several times a month, once a week, several times a week — it’s up to you and your therapist.
How do I know if a therapist is right for me?
Visit therapists’ online profiles to check their qualifications, specializations, ratings and reviews. Find out whether they’re experienced in dealing with cases like yours. If you visit a therapist and realize you aren’t comfortable with them, make sure you let them know. Trust and rapport are important. If you don’t feel comfortable, find a practitioner who’s better suited for your needs.
What is a psychologist?
Psychologists often have a doctoral degree, and people often come to them for help with dealing with depression, anxiety, grief and more. Psychologists may conduct research as well as work with patients.
In most states, psychologists cannot prescribe medicine. But they may collaborate with doctors and psychiatrists to come up with a treatment plan.
What is a psychiatrist?
Psychiatrists are medical doctors (they have an M.D. or D.O) who specialize in mental health. They can also take cases that involve substance abuse. Psychiatrists help patients with a variety of mental health issues, including depression, panic attacks, anxiety, hallucinations and more.