Why Does Therapy Cost So Much?
Have you considered going to therapy only to discover that paying for therapy is either unaffordable in a private practice setting or it will require certain sacrifices in order to be able to pay for your sessions?
You are not alone, a lot of folx, especially if you are new to therapy often find that therapy in a private practice setting can be pricey. It can leave a lot of people wondering, why does therapy cost so much?
i'll attempt to explain why therapy can be so pricey. First, there is no set standard fee for therapy sessions, even medical insurances do not have a standard rate that a therapist is paid, it varies insurance to insurance. The average cost of therapy can be anywhere from $100 t0 $200 a session depending on your geographic area and the level of expertise of the therapist you are working with. Baring that in mind, here are a few factors that contribute to a therapist's rate.
Majority of therapists working in a private practice setting do not own the offices they use to provide services, this means that a therapist often has monthly rent to cover for the space they use. Usually this also requires paying for some monthly utilities, this can vary from office to office however usually therapists are responsible for some utility payment. Rent, just like living space, for office space can also be quite expensive depending on the area of the country someone is in. In addition, there is usually upkeep for the office; office supplies, cleaning, water, coffee that all add up and add to the overall bill to sustain a practice.
Lack of medical insurance and other benefits:
Most private practice therapists have to pay for their own medical insurance just like most other self-employed people. Unless someone is married and has medical insurance through a spouse, a private practice therapist has to pay out of pocket for their medical insurance, this can range from $300 to $700 per month depending on coverage. Most benefits that folx obtain through working at an agency are not givens for therapists unless they can afford to pay for these things themselves. Retirement, life insurance etc. are all additional out of pocket expenses for private practitioners.
Training, licensure, liability insurance:
In order to stay up to date with the latest therapy approaches, theories, and techniques therapists need to attend trainings, each training can cost anywhere from $200 t0 $500. There are other factors such as licensure renewal and liability insurance that require out of pocket expenses.
As you can see just from these examples, a therapist in private practice has large out of pocket expenses. There can also be marketing expenses to add to all those expenses. All this contributes to a therapist's fee. It often is not that a therapist wants to charge an expensive fee, am not going to lie, there are those therapists that will charge extreme fees, however I would like to think most therapists are like me and just trying to pay for our overhead and still be able to pay our own bills (this may just be me being an idealist).
Need to keep caseload reasonable:
In order for therapists to provide the best care possible to each client, it is also important that we do not overwhelm our caseloads with clients to increase our income just to make ends meet. Unfortunately this is something happening in many agencies where therapists are being required to see more clients in one work day, often 9 to 10 clients in one day. This type of caseload whether in an agency or in a private practice setting can create situations where therapists are not providing the best care, missing vital information from a client and often leads to a therapist becoming burnt out. The fees set by therapists are actually part of client care. The fees allow us to pay our overhead but they also help keep our caseloads at reasonable levels. This ensures that we are providing the best therapy service possible and not creating harm for the clients we work with.
Hopefully this has been helpful in understanding what is behind the fees that therapist's set. This is not to say that I speak for all therapists, this has been my experience and reasoning behind my fees. And of course, out of pocket therapy services are not affordable to all folx, some people will choose to use their medical insurance to cover the bulk of therapy fees (in which case the fee is not set by your therapist but by your insurance company). Using medical insurance is a valid option for many, there are definitely some draw backs regarding privacy. Other folx may find therapy services at community agencies that have low sliding scale options or even free services and all these options are valid.
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It's me Melissa. Fat/Queer/POC/Femme therapist with lots to say and lots of tattoos. Instagram: @counseling4allseasons