How Much Is Therapy and What Does It Cost?

How Much Is Therapy and What Does It Cost?

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When seeking mental health services in the U.S., one of the biggest barriers is price. But how much is therapy and what does it cost? 

Unfortunately, therapy costs vary greatly depending on where you live and how you pay for it. For some, the cost of therapy is prohibitive.

If you’d like to see a therapist but are worried about how much therapy costs, you may be surprised to learn that some affordable options are available. Read on to learn more about how much therapy costs in the U.S., how costs are determined, and how you can access affordable therapy through Klarity.

How Much Is Therapy in the U.S.?

The average price for a therapy session in the U.S. ranges from $65 to more than $300.1 Therapists charge different rates depending on your location and the demand for services in the area. Therapists in cities typically charge more than therapists in rural areas.

There’s usually no difference in the cost of therapy based on the therapist’s license type, and doctorate- and masters-level therapists are reimbursed at the same rate by insurance companies. 

However, pre-licensed therapists (masters- or doctorate-level therapists who haven’t completed the licensure process and therefore can only provide therapy under the supervision of a licensed practitioner) and other types of mental health services (like psychiatry or substance use counseling) may charge different prices. 

Service typeAverage cost1
Psychiatrist$200 to $400 for initial diagnostic visit
Licensed mental health therapist$100 to $250 per session
Pre-licensed therapist$65 to $150 per session
Certified alcohol and drug counselor (CADC)Almost free to $250 per session
Applied behavioral analysis (ABA) behavioral therapy$100 to $150 per hour

How Much Do Different Types of Therapies Cost?

One factor that determines the cost of therapy is the specific method of therapy used. If you’re looking for a therapy treatment not widely available in your area, costs per session may be higher.

For example, psychoanalysis (long-term, intensive therapy based on Freud’s theories) can be more expensive than cognitive-behavioral therapy (which is a shorter-term, solution-focused therapy) because there are less likely to be fully qualified psychoanalysts in most areas. Psychoanalysis also requires multiple sessions a week over a long period of time, which can cause costs to add up quickly.

Other less common types of therapy that may be more expensive in certain areas include:

The price of each therapy type depends on where you live and how many therapists are available near you.

How Much Are Therapists with and without Insurance?

The cost of therapy differs depending on your insurance plan. Many people have health insurance plans that cover at least part of the cost of therapy. Your exact copay (the portion of the therapy fee you’re responsible for) depends on your plan’s benefits. But by law, employer-sponsored insurance plans must offer mental health benefits comparable to their medical health benefits.

Talk to your insurance provider to determine how much your copay is for mental health visits.

If you don’t have insurance or your insurance plan doesn’t cover therapy (for example, if you have a high deductible), seeing a therapist through traditional avenues can be expensive. Typically, if you see a therapist without insurance, you’re responsible for 100% of their fee.

How Much Does Therapy Cost In-Person vs Virtually?

Typically, there’s no significant difference between the cost of in-person and virtual therapy sessions. According to our research, you can expect to pay between $100 to $250+ per session for either. However, it’s notable that there is no need to travel for virtual sessions, which can help save on your costs for gas and time.

How to Pay for Therapy

There are many ways to pay for therapy. Most people choose to pay privately or through insurance.

Private Pay

If you go the private pay route, you pay the therapist’s full fee using your own money. Some of the benefits of paying privately are having no limits to the number of sessions, getting access to a wider selection of therapists, and freedom from the mandatory diagnoses many insurance companies require to cover therapy.

Insurance

Many people use their insurance plans to pay for therapy. Most insurance plans cover mental health services to some extent, but your copay will depend on your policy. Insurance can make therapy more affordable but can also place limitations on which therapists you can work with.

HSA/FSA

You can also use your health savings account (HSA) or flexible spending account (FSA) to pay for therapy. These are benefits that your employer may offer that allow you to set aside pre-tax money to spend on healthcare services (including, but not limited to, mental health services). 

The main benefit of using an HSA/FSA to pay for therapy is that you won’t need to pay taxes on that money.

Klarity lets you use your HSA and/or FSA accounts to pay for services you receive from providers on the platform.

Online Platforms

Klarity is an online platform that connects you with licensed and vetted therapists to make the process as hassle-free as possible. With Klarity, you get access to affordable prices without needing insurance.

Lower Cost or Free Options for Therapy

If you aren’t insured and don’t have the financial means to pay for therapy, there are some options.

  • You can apply for subsidized health insurance on healthcare.gov. If you meet the income eligibility requirements, you may even qualify for free health insurance through Medicaid or another government program.
  • Some therapists offer rates on a sliding scale. You can search online for therapists who offer this option. Keep in mind that you may be kept on a long waitlist because there are many people who want sliding-scale services.
  • The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration (SAMHSA)’s National Helpline can connect you with free or low-cost mental health services in your area.
  • Klarity, an online marketplace of mental health providers, makes it possible to get affordable and accessible therapy services even without insurance.

Is Therapy Worth the Cost?

There’s no doubt about it; therapy can be expensive. The costs can lead many people to wonder whether therapy is worth it.

Your mental health is priceless; there is no dollar amount you can put on your well-being that can cover how important it is. The costs of therapy can seem high at first glance, but the cost of not taking care of your mental health can be even higher.

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) suicide and data statistics, close to 50,000 lives are lost to suicide every year in the U.S. There’s  also a significant financial loss that comes along with untreated mental disorders that cost U.S. employees a total of nearly $200 billion in lost earnings a year.

The Cost of Therapy Is Worth It

Unfortunately, mental health problems like depression and anxiety aren’t likely to go away on their own. Just like it’s necessary to see a physician when you’re physically ill, it’s essential to see a therapist if you’re struggling with your mental health. 

It’s also important not to let mental health challenges turn into a crisis. When mental health problems are left untreated, the related costs can become even higher. Serious mental health problems require more serious interventions, including intensive outpatient treatments or residential care.

Even if you don’t live with serious mental health concerns, going to therapy or counseling can improve your life and sense of well-being. Working with a therapist can help you deepen your self-awareness, improve your relationships, and strengthen your self-esteem. These benefits don’t have a price.

Find a Therapist with Klarity

If the price of private therapy feels prohibitive, Klarity can help. Our mission is to make quality mental health care affordable and accessible to everyone who needs it. Klarity connects you with licensed mental health professionals on our marketplace who meet your needs. 

Ready to get started? Find a therapist on Klarity today.

1 Source: Independent research of pricing for practitioners listed on Psychology Today

FAQs About the Cost of Therapy

How much does most therapy cost?

The cost of therapy depends on where you live and what specific kind of services you’re looking for. For example, therapists in larger metropolitan areas tend to charge more. On average, licensed therapists charge between $100 and $250 for a session, although some may charge more depending on expertise.1

Is $100 a lot for therapy?

Most licensed therapists charge between $100 to $250 per session, so $100 is about the average for therapy. This doesn’t mean that it’s not a lot for you. With Klarity, follow-up sessions are much less costly.

Why is therapy so unaffordable?

Therapists are required to go through both graduate school and  a lengthy post-graduate training and licensure process to provide services. If private pay rates are unaffordable for you, you can try an online platform like Klarity.

Is therapy worth it financially?

Although therapy can be a big cost, it can cost you even more in the long run if you leave mental health issues unaddressed. People who live with serious mental health issues may not be able to earn a full income due to lost work hours and other factors. Plus, the price of your life and well-being can’t be measured.

Do you pay before or after therapy?

When, exactly, you pay for therapy varies between therapists. Some therapists will send you (or your insurance company) a bill or invoice after your sessions, while others prefer you to pay upfront.

Medically Reviewed By Dr. Zoe Russell

Dr. Zoe Russell received a dual bachelor’s degree in biology and psychology from the University of Michigan-Dearborn, pursued a master’s degree in public health from Michigan State University, and received her doctorate in osteopathic medicine from Michigan State’s College of Osteopathic Medicine in 2021. Currently, Dr. Russell is completing her residency training in family medicine and hopes to specialize in female reproductive and mental health.

Author

Saya Des Marais

Saya Des Marais, MSW is a former therapist-turned mental health writer. Through her writing, she strives to make dense – but often life-saving – psychological research and information accessible to everyone who needs it. As a therapist, she worked with children, teens, and adults in a wide variety of settings, including in community mental health clinics, residential care facilities, and public school districts.

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