How in the heck do I pay for therapy?

In talking with thousands of people over the years, and including my own bias and experience, I've found that paying for therapy is one of the largest roadblocks to entering therapy. Therapy feels like a "luxury."  We often think, "Man, it would be nice to get a better understanding of what is happening with my child/spouse/self, but I can't afford it."  It seems as if our mental health is often the last crisis we respond to.  The call from our child's Principal letting us know he/she was suspended, the text you see on your teenager's screen from an unknown person asking for pictures, the conversation with your spouse seemingly "out of the blue" wherein one party discusses their unhappiness and intent to leave the marriage, or after months of sleepless nights our acceptance that the circular and repetitive thoughts keeping us up may be a problem, are all examples of moments when we think "I wish I had known." 

I receive those frantic calls often and understandably so.  Our daily physical needs often take precedence over what we cannot see, until they are blown up in front of our face.  When we are in crisis, we often find a way to make things happen, financially and otherwise. One of my bosses has always said, "No one enters therapy because life is going great," and although true, my hope is to help families discover red flags and warning signs and address issues with a prevention mindset, rather than a reactive mindset and in doing so, preventing those frantic last ditch efforts of crisis response. 

To address this, I want to discuss a couple of ways families can access therapy without breaking the budget. 

1. Out of Network Insurance Reimbursement

As you may know, many (most) mental health providers do not accept insurance.  The reason being (in short), insurance companies make it very difficult to treat people and pay very little.  They generally only cover a few specific diagnoses and require large amounts of paperwork that would raise out of pocket costs for clients.  That being said, many people can access their "Out of Network" Benefits with any mental health provider and receive some reimbursement once a deductible is met.  Every insurance plan is different, but generally, this is an effective approach.  To do so, ask your therapist for a statement (monthly) of services and you will submit that statement/invoice to your insurance company for a portion of reimbursement.  Now, each company's procedures for doing so are different and unfortunately I do not have specific information on individual company policies, but I do know this is a way to see a provider of your choice and receive some reimbursement that many people are unaware of. 

2.  HSA/FSA Accounts

Mental health counseling, psychological services/assessments and even special education services are qualified expenses under HSA guidelines.  You may use any and all funds to pay for mental health therapy.  Some companies require a statement of diagnosis, which is easily completed, but most do not. Depending on your account, you can use the HSA/FSA credit card, or receive statements/invoices monthly (or weekly on request) for reimbursement. 

3.  Corporate Wellness Programs

More and more companies are offering wellness programs to their employees and creating an environment where mental health is de-stigmatized and valued.  I have been a part of presenting to companies who have wellness programs and have seen the benefit firsthand.  If you are a part of a company with a program like this, mental health counseling is often covered. Please see your employer for details. If you would like your company to develop a corporate wellness program, I am happy to consult and share information to make that become a reality. 

Again, therapy should not be a luxury.  As numerous studies are showing, our mental health is directly correlated to our physical health.  Wellness is all inclusive.  I want to help prevent you and your family from crisis. I look forward to being a part of creating your healthy lifestyle. 

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