The saying “You get what you pay for” is true when it comes to mental health services. Older more experienced therapists are usually the best and so they simply charge more. Therapists who provide sliding scale are typically newer and trying to build up their practice. Clinics are cheap but usually have newer clinicians or those who can’t sustain a private practice for whatever reason.
So, if you want someone good, it will cost you more up front but less long term. Some one good means someone who can help you reach your goals sooner and more effectively.
Fewer sessions means fewer dollars.
First, choose your therapist with care. You can waste a lot of first sessions and money by picking the wrong person to work with. Choosing a therapist is a bit like a blind date, however there are some things that will help narrow your search.
Read their website and bio. Do they have experience successfully treating your issue? Speak with them over the phone before scheduling. Therapist who let you schedule online are willing to see anybody. Therefore, they may not have a specialty, or they may work with each client in the exact same way. Call them and briefly share what’s going on and what you want to get out of seeing them. Then ask them how they would approach helping you.
Be consistent–Reason one
Now that you found your therapist — you need to commit! Those who pop in now and then may feel better short term but they will not experience lasting change. The more consistent you are in the short term, the fewer sessions it actually takes in the long term. Again, fewer sessions equals fewer dollars.
Here is an example of what I mean. Pretend you are learning a foreign language. If you immerse yourself, then you learn faster and retain more of what you learned. If you take one class now and then you are going to get far weaker results and ultimately pay for are greater number of classes. The same is true for therapy sessions.
Be consistent–Reason two
Your consistency helps our memory. A secret we don’t like to tell clients is that we just don’t remember your sessions as well as you do. A therapy session is a rare encounter for you. For us it’s our day-to-day work. If you don’t come consistently then it is very hard for us to recall all the important information needed to serve you best, notes or not.
Be consistent–Reason three
Therapist typically create a treatment plan for each client. We can’t plan in advance how to sequence your therapy if you just pop in from time to time. Pop-in clients get to vent, but we don’t get to prepare.
Never lie to us.
Clients maybe embarrassed about a secret behavior, but if you keep secrets from us your therapy may not be on target. An example would be when a client doesn’t share how much they really drink. Alcohol contributes to anxiety and depression and keeps medication from working. We need to know the truth. We are here to help, not to judge.
Do your homework.
Almost all therapists give clients homework. If yours does not then ask for some. This is typically an article or journal exercise or a book recommendation. If you take advantage then you will get results more quickly and need fewer sessions. When clients complain about cost but don’t make the extra effort to do their homework, it can be very frustrating for us.
DNA and Medication
If you need medication, a very new way to save money is to pay up front for an online DNA test. There are now test that will actually help you choose the right medication the first time. It cost about the same as a psychiatrist visit but is far more accurate. You will be much less likely to need to adjust your dosage, deal with side effects, or try a new one altogether. You pay the website once instead of paying for several psychiatric visits.
Get a discount.
Now a sensitive topic… When clients try to bargain with us to lower our fees, it can feel very disrespectful. If you want to approach your therapist about a lower fee rate here is my suggestion: After your first or second session, express clearly your goals and commitment to reaching them. Then ask if a package of 8-12 sessions could possibly be available at a discount. (This package will have an expiration date). Packages actually make scheduling and taxes easier for us so there is a mutual incentive to offer you a package deal.
Save money without sacrificing your wellness.
How to save money on therapy comes down to needing fewer sessions to get good results. You need fewer sessions when you have a quality therapist, and are a committed consistent client who does their homework. You may even be a committed consistent client who scores a package rate. Save money, but don’t sacrifice quality when it comes to your wellness.