The Cost of Therapy
Why is Therapy So Expensive?
Affordable Mental Health Care
I know it can be frustrating or overwhelming to see the price tag of private practice therapy when you're just seeking the care of someone you think you might be able to trust; someone with the skillset or speciality that feels most relevant to the help you're seeking.
How disappointing to start to like a therapist and then find out you can't afford to meet with them. This is one of the reasons I try to be as transparent as possible about my fees before you even get me on the phone.
Private practice is only one way to get mental health support. Here are some other ways you can see a therapist for a more affordable fee:
Community mental health clinic: This is typically a training clinic where the therapists are either still in graduate school or they've graduated but still haven't finished the clinical hours and training required to become licensed. These therapists typically don't get paid in money, but earn those very clinical hours while likely working another job.
Working through the trauma of being shamed, dismissed, or discriminated against because of your sexuality or gender identity is only part of the work. I also want to celebrate with you on the path of discovering and expressing your full authentic self. There's joy to be had in these experiences, and there's trauma to identify and process so that more joy and safety can become available.
Therapy in Los Angeles
One way I currently contribute to affordable mental health care is to offer sliding scale spots for those that need it and low-fee sessions for Veterans of the U.S. Military. These spots typically fill up quickly, so they're not always available, but they're being put to good use.
I don't want cost to be prohibitory in you getting the care you deserve, so I often refer to sliding-scale clinics that I know and trust. Here are some of those resources for the Los Angeles area:
Airport Marina Counseling Service
Southern California Counseling Center
Los Angeles Times Mental Health Resource Roundup
Private Pay Therapy
So there's a hefty pricetag AND very few private practice therapsist take insurance?
I know it may seem like we're almost trying to be difficult when you hear that we're not in network with insurance. But having had experience working with insurance companies, I know that they're just going to act as a barrier to the kind of support you need.
Insurance companies are financially-motivated businesses that want you to be "cured" so you can get back to work and cease getting support. They take liberties they're not clinically trained to take; disagree with our diagnoses even though they've never met with you in a therapeutic context. you've developed depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts*, and other emotional challenges in the face of transphobia. Maybe you don't even feel safe enough to question your gender because of the resistance or aggression you anticipate on the other side of your own truth.
We can't change other people, though we can activate and advocate in political and social spheres. In therapy, I want to provide you with a safe space to explore yourself; to ask the questions that might be scary, and to feel empowered in your ability to handle the answers.
I've heard people describe therapists as people "who just sit there and listen."
I understand that's what it seems like we're doing. And listening is a big part of the gig. In fact, I used to be kind of upset that therapy even had to exist as an industry because listening actively and emphatically to people should just be what we do for those around us.
But we don't. We can't. We're an overwhelmed society that can hardly hold our own pain, much less everyone else's. So having someone that you can sit across from to talk with, knowing they won't take up space to share about their own struggles, can be worth it on its own.
Everyone deserves a space to be seen, heard, validated, supported, and celebrated. But very few people actually have those spaces. An unbiased person, energy exchange. The payment is the energy you give me, my undivided attention, care, listening skills, theoretical background, skills to help ground, support, contextualize, reflect, and to do so with empathy, patience, and awareness of what you need, not treading on your defense mechanisms but being in soft relationship with them so they can trust the process along with you -- there's more to therapy than just listening.
Private Pay Therapy
Speaking of those theoretical backgrounds, I don't share the following stories to tip the scale of empathy in my favor, but to provide context around the mental health industry.
For several years, I did a lot of therapy without getting paid anything but clinical hours. These were documented hours of labor signed off by a supervisor so that, with enough of them, I could eventually take a state board exam and become licensed. The first 7 years of my career as a therapist had me spending way more money on education, books, state board exams, study materials, supervision, continuing education credits, my own therapy, and various tiers of licensure with the state, than I ever could have fathomed earning.
In fact, those are typically the therapists you're seeing in sliding scale clinics like the ones I've listed above. They're not fully licensed, and they're not getting paid, which is why the clinic is able to offer more affordable fees. And you don't have to feel guilty about that as a client -- that's how the system's set up. And on-the-job training often comes with its own costs. But by the time a therapist is licensed and able to earn a living, we've got a lot of debt to work through.
Not surprisingly, I give way better therapy now that I'm experienced and able to earn a living than when I was in graduate school and working a full-time job on top of doing therapy sessions at night and on the weekends. You want your therapist to be a well-rounded, grounded individual who isn't in survival mode.
We understand that private pay therapy isn't for everyone and that sliding scale spots aren't always available when you need them. But there are always alternative options, especially with the new wave of telehealth giving you access to therapists in parts of your state you may not have been able to commute to otherwise.
Get Started with Therapy
Ready to do the work?
Here the answers to some of your more burning questions:
I offer online video therapy for adult residents of California
I am not in-network with any insurance company but can provide monthly superbills
My fee per session is $200
If you're ready to move forward:
Browse through the FAQ for additional answers to your most important questions.
Then contact Vanessa to set up a free initial consultation call.