Paying for Therapy

The Short Answer

Most people pay out-of-pocket for therapy. Unless you are on Medicare/ Medicaid (and then you’re generally limited to the most over-worked, least experienced and trained therapists) or you have excellent mental health insurance (which is rare given the restrictions placed on most policies) you will likely pay out-of-pocket for counseling. It’s that simple.

If you have insurance (more about insurance below) and you choose to work with me, I provide a “superbill” which you can submit to insurance. Some people with determination and one of those excellent policies are reimbursed for a portion of my fees. One last detail: at the time of service, you can pay me with cash, check or credit card.

Therapy’s Value and The Big Question

High-quality psychotherapy changes lives. It’s that simple. I’ve seen it in countless clients, numerous acquaintances and in myself and my family. It has the power to alter the moment-to-moment quality of your experience. In circumstances where you were once angry, depressed, sad – or whatever painful experience – you can feel inspired, connected and content. Counseling can change how you think, what you feel and how you respond. It can be that powerful. So, once you have met basic levels of physical health and personal security, I suggest counseling as a crucial next step to improving the quality of your life. That is, depending on the big question: what are your values?

You see: therapy costs money, and money is where we express our values. To afford therapy, you’ll most likely need to prioritize therapy over certain possessions and experiences. For some people, that’s a step too far. And, if that might be you, I understand where you’re coming from.

Perhaps you don’t believe that your experience can be changed and that you’re doomed to live the life you’ve been handed. Perhaps you have distorted perceptions of therapy or have had mediocre therapeutic experiences in the past. I understand. It makes sense. And in my own way, in writing these words, I truly support that choice. Only you get to lead your life and live from your values.

And, if by any chance you’re not sure if therapy is right for you, I recommend you give me a call. We can talk. Perhaps there’s some question that I can answer that will help you decide if experimenting with therapy is the right choice for you – and in line with who you want to be.

What to Pay in Durango and Your Treatment Duration

In Durango, if you want to see a skilled, experienced therapist, you should expect to pay over $100 – $150 per session for weekly therapy. Now that doesn’t necessary mean that the fee a therapist charges reflects their ability.   Some less experienced therapists charge fees beyond their value and also willingly offer significantly reduced fees. Some experienced therapists offer reduced fee sessions as well.

If those fees are more than you can afford over the long term, here’s what I recommend: Start your therapeutic relationship by talking about fees. You’re going to be in a personally connected and challenging relationship with whomever you choose as a therapist. There’s no better way to test a therapist up front than by talking about fees. You’ll get a good sense of how this therapist handles challenge and if they are someone from who you’d like to seek support. After all, you are going to meet with a therapist for a while.

In my experience, much progress can be made with 10 weeks of therapy. And if that’s what you can afford or all that you need, perfect. 10 weeks will do it. In the best of circumstances, I recommend budgeting for six months of therapy.  If you have a narrow, well-defined concern, six months won’t be needed. Then you’ll graduate early. That’s great! Way to go!

Reduced Rates

The good news for clients is that Durango has a very high percentage of therapists. Many therapists spend only a limited time in Durango before moving elsewhere. There were once one hundred therapists listed in the yellow pages. That’s a market that leads to reduced rates.

If your wallet is limited or your condition is mild, you may find Talk Therapy with a junior therapist for $60, and that’s a perfectly valid route. All you’ll need to do is be comfortable asking therapists about reduced rates.   Although most junior therapists profess rates around $100, they regularly see clients for much less. Just ask.

Last, but not least, if you choose to see a reduced-rate junior therapist (or a senior therapist for that matter), make sure to quit if you’re not making progress. You will know by 3 or 4 sessions. If you aren’t satisfied, rather than making an inaccurate interpretation about all therapist or even about yourself, just try another therapist. You could be surprised by the difference.

Using Insurance to Pay for Therapy

Dealing with health insurance companies can be frustrating. To begin the process, and even before calling a therapist, call your insurer. Get and fully understand the details and limitations of your policy. This takes time and focus. Remember, insurance companies are in the business of making money and will attempt to limit coverage in numerous ways.

The devil will lie in the details. Listen for and understand deductibles, copays, in-network providers and limit on conditions covered. For example, insurance rarely covers couple’s counseling. For another example, you may hear “your coverage pays 60% of allowable charges.” That does not mean 60% of what your therapist charges you. Your therapist may charge you $120, but your insurance only allows an $80 fee. That means you are reimbursed $48 (60% of $80), not $72 (60% of $120). The variations and challenges are innumerable, not to mention the forms. My recommendation is simple: Learn exactly what to expect when you begin so as to avoid disappointment.

Now, you may be fortunate. There are several corporate plans in the Durango area that have generous benefits. If your insurance is in that pool, all you need is a $40 co-pay and finding a therapist you like “in-network.” That’s great. You are truly fortunate. There may be a limited number of in-network therapist for you plan, but that’s just part of the insurance game. Keep going. Hopefully, you’ll find the right therapist, with the training and experience you need.

Oh, and if you can’t tell, I’m one of many therapists who dislike the current set-up for mental health insurance.

Here’s my formal statement – a common and somewhat misleading statement given by senior therapists who have given up on insurance. “Although I do not directly accept insurance for my services, I do provide a superbill which you can submit to your insurer for reimbursement.”

Frankly, that means, the work is up to you, and unless you have an excellent plan and rigorously pursue reimbursement you’re unlikely to get insurance to pay for our therapy. I’m sorry. I don’t rule the world. I think our system for funding quality mental health is designed to keep many in need from receiving the help they need.