Can I afford to invest in therpy?

Can I afford to invest in therapy?

What if I told you that by investing 5% of your annual salary in YOURSELF for 1 year could significantly change your life?

That’s what therapy does, and that’s roughly how much it costs.

When the topic of therapy comes up it’s always followed by “but it’s sooo expensive…. But the cost…. I don’t have that kind of money…. Therapy is only for rich people….” and so many more things.

Honestly, I often feel deflated when these topics come up.  Even around my own friends and family.  But I remind myself, it’s not about me.

More honestly, I used to think that way too! **embarrassing moment** I did not value myself enough to invest in myself. I realized I unconsciously took on the same views and beliefs of my social influences, without really looking into if for myself and developing my own thoughts and opinions around it!

The purpose to this blog post is to shed a different view on things… on investing in your health. I think information on this would have been valuable to me personally and wish I had realized it much sooner! So hope this helps others!

I provide psychotherapy in the Rochester metropolitan area. Most of my clients are from Monroe county but I have some that live in Wayne, Orleans, and Ontario county as well. The median household income for this area is about $52,000 – $53,000 a year. If the Average Rochesterian saw a therapist at $100 a session (oh hey, that’s my current rate, how did that happen?) and went to therapy every other week for a year, that comes out to be 5% of the person’s annual income!! WHA? 5 percent?! That’s so little!

Stacey, I got some serious shit, I think I need to come weekly, how expensive if that?! Well, if you saw me weekly at $100 a session that’s 10% of the average person’s salary, but there is a good chance your household likely makes more than that. Score! Also, I take time off, you take vacations and I’ve never seen anyone weekly for a year. Not mainly due to vacations, but because my clients are surely feeling better in the first year to the point that they don’t feel they need weekly therapy anymore and move to biweekly sessions. If you still want to come weekly I’m not gonna kick you out, but we will talk about what is healthy, what is needed and what is appropriate. Cause, therapy addiction is a thing. Wait, I just made that up. I don’t think that’s a thing. (but anything can be addictive right?!)

When I finally put some of these numbers into perspective, it helped me to be able to invest in myself.  I know we all have monthly bills of all sorts of kinds and some we can’t give up (you telling me to cut my Netflix?!) but I noticed things change for me when I invested less into things I that didn’t help my well-being and personal growth and started investing into things that do help my well-being and personal growth. (Beat bugs keeps me sane).

Therapy isn’t the only well-being investment out there.  I invest in other things too like workout classes, yoga, massage, pedicures, fresh vegetables…. etc….. But really those investments are ongoing every year!  Therapy is often intensive (weekly – bi-weekly) during rough times and transitions and less intensive during stable times (monthly, quarterly, not at all).  So one year therapy might cost you $5,000 and the next year it might cost you $500! (so on and so forth with a variety of combinations from a lot of money to no money at all).

That investment in yourself is priceless (in my opinion) as what you learn in therapy stays with you forever.  Granted you change as you grow so tune ups are sometimes desired by clients, but usually the core work has been managed and your life is much more enjoyable due to that initial intensive investment!  So really, therapy is the gift that keeps on giving :-P

What if I told you, you might even make that money back financially?!

Everyone has different struggles and goals in therapy, but I’ve seen a good portion of my clients grow into higher paying jobs, or more financially fulfilling businesses. How so? For one, increased confidence goes a long way when it comes to jobs as well as being more productive due to managing your emotions and life more effectively.  Think about how time an energy consuming it is to have relationships, or experience the death of a loved one, or to be struggling with depression or anxiety.  A LOT of time and energy.  So managing that well can lead to a more productive life in many ways.  Some clients end up saving money in other ways because they are no longer trying to buy their happiness and spend money wisely.  So in many ways, my clients earn back their investment in therapy. How cool is that?!

Stacey, I make less than $50,000 a year. What does that mean for me?

Well, some therapists work on a sliding scale.  Meaning if you are making less than the average income the therapist set the fees in line with, you could potentially qualify for a discount, as long as it is income based.  This all depends on what your income is and if the therapist has any sliding scale slots open. (we often put a cap to the amount of slots so our entire caseload doesn’t end up at a discounted rate).  So it doesn’t hurt to inquire about a sliding scale that you might benefit from, otherwise finding another therapist or a therapist on your insurance panel might be a good option. Not all therapists charge $100, you might find one that charges $70 and that is more in line with your income.

Funny you mention insurance Stacey. I pay a monthly premium for my insurance company.  Aren’t I entitled to use my insurance? I’m already spending the money.

Well yes, but let me explain a bit about that…..

Your insurance company sees mental health as an illness. A mental illness if you will. They want to see you NOT sick, and functioning. Not necessarily functioning well, but functioning. Working under the insurance model doesn’t accept working on self-esteem to be a real goal

(side story: I was told that once in my early years as a therapist “Stacey, self-esteem is not an acceptable treatment plan objective” I was lost and confused as to what job I signed up for)

or working on steps toward landing your dream job, or developing deeper meaning in life, or establishing meaningful, connecting relationships and all those wonderful things that people want to get out of therapy.

What insurance companies look for is if you are eating, sleeping, getting out of bed in the morning, taking a shower, not attempting to kill yourself resulting in ED visits, and not being a threat to others and so forth…

You might be struggling with some of the things insurance companies cover, but once those are improved, insurance no longer covers the services. Working on fulfillment in life will not be covered by your insurance company.  I am glad that insurance covers these services, as they are necessary for people, but then it comes to an end when you’re managing and honestly, that’s not why I became a therapist. I’m not about managing; I’m about enjoying!!

You definitely can find a therapist that takes your insurance and benefit from therapy, but I would encourage you to think about your treatment goals and objectives, shop around for the therapist that you feel like you could connect the best with and make your determination from there.

If you are in need of someone who takes your insurance panel, I’d be happy to help point you in the right direction!

I’m willing to pay fee for service therapy but I’m finding therapist charging anywhere from $60 a session to $200 a session.  Why such a difference?

There are so many factors that go into pricing for therapists.  Often newer therapists charge less and experienced clinicians charge more, but I’ve seen less experienced clinicians charge more and very experienced clinicians charge less so if you are looking to pay for experience, it is important to look not just into years experience but advanced training and ongoing education you therapist is getting.  Remember all these licenses and ongoing trainings are quite costly and factors into your price.

Some therapists rates differ so much pending on their own personal needs and lifestyle. Some people are supporting themselves, some are supporting a family. Some are doing it on the side for extra money, some it’s the only source of income.

Some therapists have a lot of overhead, some don’t have as much. Some offer more amenities, some don’t offer any.

For whatever reason you will find a HUGE rage of fees from therapist to therapist.  It is important that you do your research on finding the best therapist for you and feel you are getting you money’s worth in regard to investment.  Obviously the more you make, the bigger pool of therapists you have to choose from.

In closing, I encourage you to think about therapy as an investment in yourself. Look at your income and what a reasonable cost is for you, considering the benefits that you gain from therapy, and find a good match for a therapist within your price range.

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  1. Thanks for the great article. I may be biased, but therapy is really great bang for the buck. Sadly though, people rarely invest in their mental health until they come to a point where it affects their day to day life.

    • Stacey Steinmiller

      Stacey Steinmiller

      Thanks Robert! Yes, unfortunately I see the same thing. Hopefully with more education around mental health and work to reduce the stigma, maybe we will see a change in the future!

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