How to Get Therapy and the Help You Need When You Don’t Have Insurance

A young man researching how to get therapy without insurance.

It’s never been easier to talk about mental health than it is today.


From non-profit mental health clinics to 24-hour helplines, someone is always ready to lend a hand whenever you need it most


But for those without health insurance, services like therapy can feel more like a luxury than a necessity. 




Many therapists run independent practices. With all sorts of expenses to cover, their out-of-pocket rates may be steep for someone without insurance.


According to Thumbtack, traditional therapy sessions (i.e., in-person therapy) average $98 to $120 per session. Meanwhile, some professionals choose to bill per hour, charging anywhere between $60 to $175 per hour. 


The type of therapy, the therapist’s expertise, and where you live will also affect overall costs. 


Fortunately, there are low-cost, even free alternatives to traditional therapy.


In this article, we’ll go over what to do when you can’t afford therapy and how to get professional help at an affordable price.


What to Do When You Don’t Have Insurance and Can’t Afford Traditional Therapy Costs


If you don’t have health insurance, it’s easy to feel discouraged.


With your budget to consider and other factors like scheduling conflicts and waitlists, you may want to give up entirely. 


But you can’t give up on your mental health. 


Just as your physical health is important, so is your emotional and mental well-being. By putting yourself first and seeking professional help when you need it, you’re paving the way to a happier, healthier future.


From government-funded programs to online mental health providers like Emote, there is something out there for you. A good rule of thumb is that if one method doesn’t pan out, try another.


Here are a few suggestions to keep in mind when looking into therapy: 


Don’t give up, keep researching

Thanks to the internet, virtual resources offer a wealth of information on any kind of health condition or personal issue you can think of. 


Even navigating difficult topics like marital and intimacy issues has been made easier through online anonymity and expert advice from licensed professionals


Whether you’re interested in developing a long-term mental health treatment plan with a licensed therapist, or non-medical coping mechanisms like meditation, a few minutes of research can shed some light on how to get help while on a budget.


Check with your employer(s)

Depending on your type of employment, you may be eligible to receive EAP benefits


An Employee Assistance Program, or EAP, is a voluntary employee program that offers free mental health services such as counseling, psychotherapy, and confidential psychological assessments.


Typically, the number of free services is limited. However, EAP-sponsored mental health professionals may offer discounted rates for employees who choose to continue with their care.


Read blogs and articles on your specific issues

Nonprofessional medical advice should be taken with a grain of salt. That said, there are plenty of blogs, articles, and websites dedicated to specific issues like anxiety or how to deal with triggers


Any of these sources may offer worthwhile insight into your mental or behavioral health that you can bring up with a therapist at a later date.


See if you’re eligible for Medicaid

In the wake of the Affordable Care Act, Medicaid has provided a range of low-cost healthcare benefits to millions of Americans. Of the benefits provided, mental health services are included, with some extending to addiction and behavioral disorders. 


Eligibility for Medicaid is dependent on a set of financial and non-financial criteria


The criteria are primarily considerate of low-income households. States, however, may also offer additional coverage for certain groups outside of the federal criteria.

6 Affordable Alternatives and Strategies to Get Therapy Without Insurance


Therapy can be a beneficial experience for anyone struggling with mental health issues, interpersonal conflicts, or stress.


Unfortunately, even with coverage, it’s likely you’ll be looking out-of-network for a therapist. This is because not all insurance companies provide mental health benefits. And for those that do, in-network therapists are often few and far between. 


To add, with traditional therapy, clients are often on waitlists for weeks or months at a time. There is also a limited selection of expertise from in-network providers, such as group therapy for couples and families or specialist psychologists.


Suffice to say: Without insurance coverage, affording therapy can feel next to impossible. 


Fortunately, there are alternatives.


If you or a loved one is interested in therapy but can’t afford traditional therapy, here are few ways to get the care you need at an affordable rate:


1. For students, check with your on-campus counselors and ask for resources

School is a stressful time in everyone’s life, no matter your age. 


One study reported that depression and anxiety are the most prevalent mental illnesses amongst traditional students—most of whom are young adults who can’t financially support themselves, much less afford therapy.


Meanwhile, non-traditional students often have jobs, children, and households to support. Between work, school, and home life, such students have little time to take care of themselves or their mental health.


Whether you’re an undergraduate or graduate student, if your school offers free health resources, take advantage of them. 


It’s also worth speaking to the campus counselor about student discounts for therapy and other health services.


2. Scope out any local or online support groups

Outreach is an important aspect of any community.


Nonprofit organizations and government-funded health centers in your area may be able to provide you with affordable and/or temporary psychological care. Some therapists sponsored by city or community programs may also offer free therapy sessions for a limited time.


You can also reach out to online support groups. 


Though you should be wary of any medical advice you find online, experts frequently communicate on message boards and post articles about therapy and mental illness.


3. Crisis and suicide prevention hotlines

It’s never too late to ask for help.


Crisis hotlines operate 24/7, so no matter what the situation is, someone can always guide you through your darkest hours.


Here are a few major hotlines you can contact, day or night:

You can also check out any of the crisis resources we’ve listed here for help


(If you or a loved one needs immediate help, please contact 911.)


4. Sliding scale therapists

Some therapists are willing to adjust their rates and provide low-cost therapy for those in need. They may also be willing to provide discounts for cash payments or alternative payment plans for low-income clients.


It’s also worth speaking to your general practitioner about therapy. They may be able to give you a referral for a specialist with sliding scale fees.


5. Start your own support group with friends and/or family

Emotional support is what helps us grow and overcome life’s most difficult challenges, such as the loss of a loved one.


Whether it’s with close friends or family members, try reaching out to those closest to you. By doing so, you are gaining a vital tool: a strong support system.


By starting a support group with friends and family, you can encourage those around you to open up about private struggles and ask for help. You can also build a sense of purpose and belonging to help combat mental illness and nurture wellness and self-love.


6. Seek online therapy platforms and apps

Time is one of the most common roadblocks people face with therapy.


We all lead busy lives with jobs, children, and expectations to meet—it’s hard to prioritize our mental well-being and seek help when we don’t have insurance or free time. 


Online therapy platforms like Emote offer an affordable, convenient solution.


With online therapy, you’re free to schedule virtual appointments in whatever way works best for you.


Whether you’re interested in couples counseling or individual therapy, a qualified therapist is ready to host virtual sessions and talk you through your problems. And the best part? 


No insurance plan is required. 


Just sign up and get matched with a therapist today.


Get the Support You Need with Emote Online Therapy


For those with insurance, coverage can be lacking. For those without, finding a therapist can be time-consuming and expensive—but it doesn’t have to be.


At Emote, we cut out months-long waitlists and match you with a therapist that’s right for you


Through our affordable therapy services, you’re able to communicate in whatever you’re most comfortable with.


Be it through text, video chat, couples sessions, or individual therapy, our team of highly trained professionals can provide you with the tools and support to manage symptoms and navigate personal struggles.


With Emote, you don’t have to worry about insurance providers and copays. You have an open path to explore therapy options and pick the best plan for you with our selection of subscriptions. 


With Emote, you’re not alone


Start today, and your first week of therapy will only cost $35. Review our FAQ to learn more or reach out to us about your future therapy experience.