8 ways to whack your therapy bill

Mobsters can get special discounts.

Some mobsters might qualify for a "cement-shoes" discount.

As a New York-based psychologist, I know that finding affordable therapy in the city is tough. Many therapists in NYC don’t take insurance, and those who do can have long waiting lists. But there are ways to increase your chances of finding a quality therapist at a lower cost. There are even a few secrets that have gotten me to lower my fees. So, whether you’ve already found your therapist, or you’re still searching, here are eight ways to lower your bill.

First off, a note on insurance: If you have insurance or are part of an EAP (employee assistance program),  you may qualify to see an in-network therapist for a very low co-pay. You also might have an “out-of-network” benefit which allows you to see any therapist, pay directly and then be partially reimbursed by your insurance provider.

1. Bargain for your care. Ask the therapist if they’ll lower their fee based on your income (sliding scale). They might even have scaled-down rates for the traditionally cash-strapped (students, artists, single moms, etc.) Don’t be afraid to ask. But don’t feign financial need. You probably won’t get the best care if you ask for a lowered fee and then whip out your American Express Platinum card.

2. Go during the day. Find out if your therapist is willing to charge less for daytime sessions. This has happened.

3. Be like-able. Therapists are people too, and they might be willing to accept a lower fee for someone they’ll at least get along with for an hour a week. All things being equal, I’m more likely to lower my fee for someone in financial need if they also like surfing, writing and have a deep appreciation for the beauty of Brooklyn. And even if you hate surfing and you’ve never set foot in Brooklyn, be on-time, be polite, and we’ll likely be off to a good start. I happen to have a soft spot for respectful people who ask for a fee reduction rather than demand one (go figure!).

4. Try them out. Before discussing the fee, ask the therapist if and how they think they can help. Many therapists will talk to you on the phone and/or give you a free session to evaluate how well you match. Take this opportunity to ask about their plan for you. On the financial side, the better rapport you have going in, the better your chance to get a reduced fee.

5. Use the Psychology Today web site. This site has a listing of local therapists at every price range starting at $20 a session. It’s a great resource to find private practitioners willing to see patients at lower rates.

6. Consider group therapy. Group therapy can be very affordable, but it’s not for everyone or every case. A group can be very effective for interpersonal issues but may not be right if you’re in a lot of distress. You should consult with the mental health professional about these issues. You may find groups below or you can look on Psychology Today.

7. Try a low-cost clinic.

To start you out, here are a few low-cost clinics I recommend in the area:

Weill Cornell Dept. of Psychiatry clinical services, various locations, 888-694-5700
(Cornell Cognitive Behavioral Psychotherapy, 425 E. 61st St., 212-821-0775)

American Institute for Cognitive Therapy, 136 E. 57th St., suite 1101, 212-308-2440

Washington Square Institute, 41 -51 E. 11th St., 212-477-2600

Postgraduate Center for Mental Health, various locations

8. Don’t be afraid of a new therapist. Sometimes people ask me why therapists even consider sliding their fee. The most altruistic among us, of course, simply want to help those in need—money, or lack-thereof, aside. The more realistic answer is that many therapists who’ll lower their fee are just starting out. Does this mean you’re getting any less for your money when you see a (relatively) inexperienced therapist? Not necessarily. Newer therapists are often fresher, have access to the most cutting-edge training and techniques and can be more energetic and motivated than their “more experienced” counterparts.

In the end, when  it comes down to choosing the right therapist, the most important variable is how comfortable you feel with your counselor. Good luck and be well.

Dr. Jonathan Fader teaches at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine and maintains an active private practice. He’s also the team psychologist to the New York Mets. Learn more about him here.

25 Comment

  • Good piece!

  • Here’s a list of some more options for low-cost psychotherapy, from the academyofct.org web site:

    Location: New York City, NY
    Program: American Institute for Cognitive Therapy
    Director: Robert L. Leahy, Ph.D.
    Telephone: (212) 308 2440
    Website: http://www.CognitiveTherapyNYC.com
    Fees: $75 and higher (based on which therapist you see)

    Location: New York, NY
    Program: Cornell Cognitive Therapy Clinic, Weill Medical College of Cornell University
    Director: Baruch Fishman, Ph.D.
    Telephone: 212-821-0775
    Fees: $50.00 – $30.00 (slide depends upon income/ # of dependents), Medicaid, Managed Care.

    Location: New York City, NY
    Program: Brief Psychotherapy Research Program
    Director: J. Christopher Muran, Ph.D.
    Cognitive therapy instructor and supervisor: Vicki Gluhoski, Ph.D., ACT
    Telephone: (212) 420-3819
    Website: http://www.wehealny.org/studies/briefpsycho.html
    Fees: $10-$40 per session, depending on income
    *** Treatment consists of 30 sessions of cognitive therapy, as part of a research protocol Treatment providers are psychology graduate students and psychiatry residents, supervised by Vicki Gluhoski, Ph.D., a Founding Fellow of the Academy of Cognitive Therapy.

    Location: Bronx, NY
    Program: Cognitive Behavioral Treatment Program for Anxiety & Depression, Ferkauf Graduate School of Psychology, Yeshiva University
    Director: Lata K. McGinn, Ph.D.
    Telephone: (718) 430 3852
    Email: LMcGinn@aecom.yu.edu
    Fees: $5-$50 (slide depends upon income/ # of dependents)

  • I would like to add the Center for Cognitive-Behavioral Psychotherapy. Their site kind of sucks but it really is a good place

    http://www.ocdonline.com/

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  • I’d like to put in a word about TherapySafetyNet.org, which provides referrals for reduced fee psychotherapy for New Yorkers who do not have health insurance. We are a not for profit coalition of licensed psychologists and social workers in private practice. Each of us has made a commitment to offer psychotherapy at significantly reduced fees to meet the needs of clients who otherwise would fall through the cracks. Across our network, our group covers Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, Long Island, Ithaca, and Rockland, Westchester, and Ulster Counties. We provide a free, individually tailored referral process to match prospective clients’ needs with the specialities of our therapists. Please visit TherapySafetyNet.org to learn more.

    Geoffrey Steinberg, Psy.D.
    Executive Director
    TherapySafetyNet.org

  • My staff offers a sliding scale from $1 to $125 and is available 7 days a week by appointment. Therapy’s not rich people lying on a couch anymore! Modern therapy is very effective and can be affordable, even in NYC!

  • Oh great, so if the therapist doesn’t agree to reduce the fee it may mean he/she doesn’t like you.

  • We just added another office. This one is in Bushwick off the Morgan L or Myrtle JMZ.

    Check the site for more details:
    http://wwww.mytherapist.info

    As always, modern affordable therapy in NYC on a sliding scale from $1 based on income and dependents.

  • This post has some useful information, but I believe if a therapist really doesn’t like a patient, the therapist should refer the patient to someone else. It just doesn’t work to treat a patient you dislike. There may be an advantage to seeing a therapist who has similar hobbies or interests to yours, but this is not necessary and I would not lower a fee based on a patient’s hobbies and interests; I only lower fees based on a patient’s financial situation. I’m also not sure what the author means by “polite.” I want my patients to be on time and pay their bills, but I often find patients apologizing for cursing during sessions, which I find strange, since I want to hear how the patient really talks. Posing as someone you aren’t during your therapy sessions will not lead to effective therapy.

    • I have to agree with Anne’s remarks. A friendship is useful for shared hobbies and I have great concern for a therapist’s need to have their chosen recreational activities affirmed by the patient’s shared preferences. Furthermore, as for politeness, I find that many of my patients suffer due to the wish to people please and using an external locus which often puts them at risk of pushing aside their own effort to develop self affirming ways to feel emotionally sturdy in the world. My hope is that a patient can be whoever they are in session and this becomes the grist from which to understand their joys and difficulties of living.

      • I agree with Liz and Anne, and frankly found that portion of this article indicative of a lack of professionalism. If a patient is “impolite” to the point of unpleasantness it might be difficult for the therapist but it’s interesting, important, and has clinical relevance. If you think you can’t productively work with the patient, then by all means refer them, but it’s not their job to please you. It’s a fiduciary relationship, no matter how much you’re paid, and you are there to serve them. The author seems troublingly confused on this point.

  • I found affordable therapy at iitherapy.com, and I’m very happy that I went out on a limb and tried it out. If you visit the website you can get a quote immediately emailed to you with your individualized rate.

  • In addition to a sliding scale, my office offers 90-minute sessions during “off-peak” hours. For many clients, this may mean an overall shorter round of therapy. Effective, modern therapy is action-oriented to help you make the changes you want to see in your life. Check out our site for more information: http://wwww.mytherapist.info

  • At The Offices of Dr. Michael DeMarco, I offer a sliding scale for as low as $50 per session. Email me at courtney@mytherapist.info for details or go to our website http://www.mytherapist.info/courtney

  • The Offices of Dr. Demarco offers affordable sliding scale rates based on income and household size for individual and couples therapy. You can fill out a sliding scale, chose a therapist to work with, and schedule an appointment right from the website. http://www.mytherapist.info/

  • The Offices of Dr. DeMarco offers inexpensive therapy for individuals, couple and groups. Fees are determined on a sliding scale based on income. I also offer therapy in Polish. Email me at: katarzyna@mytherapist.info and for more info you can check our website: http://www.mytherapist.info/katarzyna

  • At the Offices of Dr. Michael DeMarco, therapy is provided on a sliding-scale basis. There is an online fee calculator, so that you can figure out what you will pay (according to your household income). We offer counseling for individuals and couples for a myriad of issues that life can throw at you. Email me at Sheila@mytherapist.info, or view our website at http://www.mytherapist.info/Sheila. Confidentiality is a top priority, and we offer effective therapy that works.

  • Another option:

    The Theodor Reik Clinical Consultation Center (TRCC)
    40 West 13th Street
    New York, NY 10010

    http://www.npap.org

    212-924-7440 x4

    Director of Intakes: Lois Wedin

  • Another option for low cost therapy is:

    Contemporary Freudian Society
    The Referral Service provides access to affordable, high quality. analytically oriented treatment in the greater New York City area.

    Call: 212 752 7883

  • Another Option is CFS
    Students and Members accept patients based on a sliding scale. You may call:

    Administrator
    212 752 7883

    or

    Director of Clinical Services
    212 463 8036

    or

    Dr. Shirley Schaye
    212 787 7862