When it comes to seeing a doctor about your physical health, you likely know exactly what to do, whether it’s calling up your OB/GYN’s office or booking through an app like ZocDoc. The process of making a mental healthcare appointment, however, is not always as clear. Americans not only struggle to find access to mental healthcare, but many also avoid seeking treatment due to barriers like high out-of-pocket costs, denial of care by insurers, difficulty accessing psychiatric medications, and issues finding an in-network professional. These barriers also disproportionately affect people of color.
As the coronavirus pandemic marches on—impacting jobs, finances, family life, and/or the health of all Americans in one way or another, stress and mental health issues are at an all-time high, a poll by the Kaiser Family Foundation found. So, accessing affordable therapy is more important than ever. The good news is that there are options. But there’s one thing experts say is key for long-term success: Not calling off the search until you’ve found your perfect match.
“Selecting a therapist who is a good fit for you is one of the most cost-effective things you can do to keep expenses manageable,” says Forrest Talley, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist in California. “When working with someone who is a good fit, you will make more progress, and you will make that progress more rapidly. On the other hand, if your therapist is a bad fit, the counseling is likely to drag on longer as progress will be slow.” Talley recommends meeting with a few different therapists—even virtually—until you find someone who really gets you. Read on for the best strategies to conquer your search.
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Check with your insurance provider.
Insurance varies among people, but there are some plans, especially Preferred Provider Organization (PPO) plans, that can cover all or some of your therapy sessions if they are in-network, says financial educator Berna Anat. “Others, like Health Maintenance Organization (HMO) plans, tend to be more limited in scope.” Anat recommends calling your health insurance company directly to ask about their in-network or out-of-network plans. You should also inquire about co-pays, where you stand on your deductible, and how to submit claims for out-of-network therapy, she says.
Book a low-cost 1:1 session.
If you don’t have insurance, not to worry: You still have options for one-on-one therapy. Anat recommends using Open Path Collective, a portal that connects people to low-cost therapists. “You can book sessions for as low as $30 per hour, whereas therapy costs out of pocket are typically $150 or more,” she says. Open Path also makes it easy to search by specific needs. “If you’re looking for a BIWOC who…
Read More: 9 Ways to Find Affordable Therapy Options Near You, Per Experts