For many, therapy can be prohibitively expensive. While our medical costs are usually covered by some type of insurance, therapy often is not. Even if your insurance covers therapy, there can be some major drawbacks, such as long wait times, high copays, and the necessity of a diagnosis, which can stay on a person’s record forever.
If you do not have insurance that covers therapy, or want to pay out-of-pocket for some of the reasons listed above, you might be shocked to discover that therapy can cost anywhere from $60-$200/session. It may come as a further shock to learn that therapy takes some time; unlike visiting a doctor, your mental health issues are not ever solved in a single visit.
Many people might think that all a therapist does is sit there and get paid an enormous sum of money per hour. However, let us take a step back and realize, first of all, that the therapist has paid for his or her degree in time, money, or both. A Ph.D. program takes around seven years to complete, whereas a master’s degree may take three years and cost around $50,000. So, a therapist’s time is expensive because he or she has spent a lot of time and/or money learning the craft.
Secondly, you meet a therapist in an office—hopefully a nice office with comfortable furniture, adequate lighting, sufficient heat and air-conditioning, and perhaps a waiting room. Keep in mind that a therapist must pay for this space. Typically, rent accounts for the largest cost in a therapist’s practice.
It is important to understand a few more things. The money you give to a therapist cannot just go right into his or her pocket—it has to be reported and taxes must be drawn out. A therapist is also required to keep current on his or her continuing education credits (CEs), which cost time and money. Finally, a therapist must find clients—a large portion of earnings must be reinvested into the business so that the therapist can ensure him or herself a steady stream of referrals.
In next week’s post, we’ll talk about how to negotiate a fee that is reasonable for both you and your therapist.