01/03/2024

Finding the right therapist can be difficult, not least because of the potential cost. A therapy session for an individual often costs between $100 and $200, according to Psychology Today.

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But if you’re a New Yorker looking for a therapist on a budget, your options range from non-profit clinics to psychiatric training institutions to programs that target specific communities, like veterans or rideshare drivers.

There are also ways to search online for therapists in private practice who either take out your insurance or offer a discounted rate. These days, even distance is less of an obstacle: Many brick-and-mortar practices also offer teletherapy. If you want to go with a private teletherapy company, Wirecutter has solid guidance. But there are many other options out there.

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Alongside a WNYC series on Mental Health Awareness Month, Gothamist has rounded up some tips for finding free or affordable therapy in New York City, no matter your income level or what type of insurance you have.

Why is it so difficult to find an affordable therapist to begin with?

Most insurance plans are required to provide solid coverage for mental health care. But finding a therapist in your network can still be a challenge. Many therapists in private practice do not accept insurance or accept a limited number of plans. Some therapists say the rates paid by health plans are too low.

Insurance companies will sometimes pay for therapy with a doctor who is out of their network. But even when therapy is covered, patients still sometimes have to pay a fee for each session out of pocket. With weekly or bi-weekly visits, this can add up.

Medicaid, a publicly funded plan for low-income people, typically covers treatment for free or for a low copay. It is accepted in non-profit clinics and hospitals throughout the city.

But cost isn’t the only consideration. Mental health providers also need to have room for new patients and some are currently grappling with out-of-control waiting lists.

The Jewish Board, one of the largest behavioral health care providers in the five boroughs, has a waiting list of more than 2,000 people for a therapist and has stopped adding it for now, according to Dr. Jeffrey Brenner, the nonprofit CEO. The Jewish Board accepts Medicaid and a number of commercial health plans.

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Our phone is ringing off the hook, Brenner said of the current level of demand.

She added that she has lost some of her therapists in recent months to telehealth companies where they are able to make more money without having to walk into an office.

Therapy should not only be affordable, but it should also be tailored to a patient’s particular needs, said Sauda Dunlap, assistant vice president of equity and belonging to Vibrant Emotional Health, which runs the New York Well mental health hotline. Some New Yorkers are also looking for someone who speaks a language other than English or understands their particular cultural background or identity, she noted.

It can be laborious [to find a therapist]but so is shopping for the right pair of jeans and the right pair of shoes, Dunlap said.

She encouraged New Yorkers to be open to different types of mental health services, such as support groups and art therapy, and said NYC Well is always adding new options to its directory.

Breaking down affordable therapeutic resources in NYC

SEARCH ENGINES AND DIRECTORIES

New York Good

The NYC Well website has a search feature that allows users to enter the type of behavioral health service they are looking for and then use filters to narrow the search by district, payment information, patient age, and program focus .

A therapist search yields nearly 1,000 hits across the five boroughs, though it doesn’t indicate availability for new patients, so a few phone calls may need to be made.

The site does not profile individual therapists, but rather lists the clinics and hospitals where different types of mental health services are available. Often, these types of institutions have a more dynamic range of services than a private therapy practice. For example, substance use treatment may be available alongside medication therapy and management. Some of these providers focus primarily on Medicaid patients, but many also accept some types of commercial insurance and offer graduated rates for those paying out-of-pocket.

You can also reach the NYC Well hotline by dialing 988, the national lifeline for crisis prevention

Psychology today

Psychology Today has profiles for a wide range of doctors in New York and around the country and has a robust search function that makes it possible to search for a therapist not only by location and specialty, but also by language, type of insurance, and how expensive they are. their sessions. There are even filters related to ethnicity and religion.

Be sure to contact both your therapist and your insurer to figure out your payment options. Some insurance companies will reimburse patients for the cost of treatment with a provider outside their network. For those paying out of pocket, some therapists offer sliding-scale rates.

Open Path Psychotherapy Collective

The Open Path Psychotherapy Collective is a non-profit that connects patients with therapists willing to charge reduced fees, ranging from $40 to $70 for one-on-one sessions and $40 to $80 for couples. The site also works with interns who charge $30.

According to the Open Path website, the service aims to help people who can afford to pay those fees out of pocket but can’t afford more and don’t have access to affordable treatment through their insurance. But the non-profit operates on an honor system and no patient financial records are required.

Patients must pay a one-time $65 membership fee to use the service, which Open Path says goes to cover operating costs.

The sites search feature allows you to filter by specialty, location, whether you prefer in-person or online therapy, and more.

THERAPISTS IN TRAINING

Don’t sleep on mental health interns. Trainee psychologists and social workers need a certain number of hours of practice before they can work independently. Clinics affiliated with graduate schools often have reduced fees.

Take the Parnes Clinic, the training center for Yeshiva University’s Ferkauf Graduate School of Psychology. The Bronx-based clinic offers both in-person and teletherapy services for adults, children, and families, and rates typically range from $5 to $40 per session (no insurance is accepted). The center currently has a waiting list, but it should be resolved by June, said Hanan Eisenman, a spokeswoman for Yeshiva University.

In some cases, asking about schedules for training programs can also help navigate waiting lists at mental health clinics. The Ackerman Institute for the Family offers education and training in family therapy. The organization tends to build its family therapy waiting list over the summer and then has plenty of availability starting in September, when all the new trainees arrive, said Adi Loebl, the organization’s chief physician.

The organization takes Medicaid and some other types of insurance, but Loebl noted that because it’s a smaller nonprofit, it has only a limited ability to offer discounted rates.

NYC HEALTHCARE + HOSPITALS

The NYC Health + Hospitals system is the city’s largest behavioral health care provider, serving patients regardless of their ability to pay, according to spokeswoman Stephanie Buhle.

The network offers outpatient therapies at its hospitals and clinics, as well as sessions via telehealth. Patients can access special programs based on their needs, such as OnTrackNY, designed for young people who have recently started experiencing psychosis.

Our waitlist varies from facility to facility and program to program, but we continually work to increase access to services by addressing workforce shortages and implementing process improvements that streamline access to providers, Buhle said.

Anyone can make an appointment at NYC Health + Hospitals by calling 1-844-692-4692 or online here.

WRONG IMMIGRANTS AND ASYLUM SEEKERS

New Yorkers who are unable to get insurance due to their immigration status can still enroll in NYC Care, a program that makes it easier for you to use NYC Health + Hospitals for preventive care, including mental health services.

New York City has also established resource navigation centers for asylum seekers. These are run by non-profit organizations who offer help with accessing a range of services, including mental health care, and the list of locations is available online in English and 12 other languages.

SPECIAL POPULATIONS

In some cases, services are targeted at certain groups who may have special needs such as cancer patients or veterans.

For example, NYU Langones Steven A. Cohen Military Family Center offers services to veterans and their families completely free of charge. A receptionist at the center said it could take up to a month for an individual to be referred to a therapist after hiring, while the waiting list for couples is two to three months.

Some employers or industry groups may also offer targeted mental health services. A group called the Independent Drivers Guild, which advocates for shared car drivers, offers free mental health services to drivers of Lyft, Uber and black car companies and their families. Services are provided in Spanish, Nepali, Mandarin, Punjabi, Urdu and Hindi in addition to English.

Many people can access it, but not everyone knows the service is available, said Deborah Ho, director of wellness for the group.

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