Parenting

How Much Does a Child Therapist Cost?

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If you are a parent and you are considering seeking out mental health services for your child, ensuring that your child receives the best support possible is likely to be at the top of your priority list, but it can be overwhelming to get started.

According to the American Psychological Association, the need for mental health services continues to grow and treatments for anxiety, depression, and other mental health disorders.

Mental health is not only important for fostering a successful life in adults, but it has become crucial for children in understanding how we think, act, and behave in this world. Engaging in therapy can be successful in healing and managing mental health symptoms, however, very few parents have the financial means to pay for mental health resources that their child might very well need. However, how much does a child therapist cost?

Ultimately, the cost of a child therapist depends on your insurance, location, and other factors.

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The Cost of a Child Therapist

Considering how much therapy costs and how an individual will pay for it, are substantial barriers that can keep parents from seeking out a therapist for their child. Therapy, on average, typically ranges from $65 per hour to $250 or more. However, in most areas, an individual is likely to pay $100 to $200 each session.

Although the price tag can be quite daunting, there are multiple ways to find mental health treatment options for your child that are both effective and affordable.

Therapist’s Training

The more trained and experienced a therapist is, the more likely they are to charge more. In addition, depending on the therapist’s credentialing and background, this can influence the cost of therapy. The following titles can also impact the cost of therapy:

  • Psychiatrist cost per session: $100 - $400
  • Psychologist cost per session: $70 - $250
  • Counselor cost per session: $20 - $200

While each is different in its degree of training and credentialing, it is important to find which type of therapist would be best suited for your child’s mental health needs.

Types of Therapy for Children

There are many types of therapists and therapy modalities, therefore choosing a therapist for your child will ultimately depend on the issues, needs, and preferences at hand. It is important to consider the different types of therapy, and which would be most beneficial in treating your child’s mental health concerns. Here are a few different types of therapy to consider:

  • Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA): a type of therapy typically used for children who have been diagnosed with Autism. This therapy is generally used to reward children by encouraging positive communication skills and discouraging harmful behaviors. 
  • Art and Music Therapy: modality of therapy that involves making art with a certified therapist. This type of therapy is known to stimulate parts of the brain and relieve stress and reduce depressive symptoms.
  • Behavior Therapy: type of therapy that involves teaching you and your child about antecedents to challenging behaviors and solutions to those types of challenging behaviors.
  • Child-Centered Play Therapy (CCPT): involves play-based therapy with a counselor, who develops an empathetic relationship with the child, fostering an environment of positive change.
  • Child Anger Management Therapy: is a type of therapy that helps regulate emotions and behaviors. Therapists will often use psychological techniques that are proven to help a child effectively manage anger, as well as any hyperactive behaviors.
  • Trauma-Focused Therapy: this therapy modality is necessary for children who have witnessed or experienced a traumatic event, such as the death of a loved one, domestic abuse, and sexual abuse. Therapists utilizing this type of therapy engage children in healing and productive conversations to help them process and move forward after traumatic events.

Factors that Influence the Cost

While the cost of therapy can be concerning to families, there are a number of factors that can affect the price you pay for therapy. These variables include insurance, location of the therapist, therapist’s training, and specialization.

Insurance

The Mental Health Parity Law requires some health insurance plans to cover therapy for mental health concerns. Additionally, there are other insurance companies that will help cover mental health treatment.

Those who have purchased health insurance through the Affordable Care Act will have access to mental health services that are covered. Typically, individuals with insurance tend to spend $20 to $50 per session and those without insurance are likely to pay $50 to $250 per session.

To gain a better sense of what is covered, inquire with your insurance company about current deductibles, copays, and coinsurance. It will also be helpful to ask about out-of-pocket costs so that you have a clear understanding of how much therapy would cost for your child.

Location

Child therapists that are employed in large metropolitan cities tend to charge more because of the high cost of living. However, some schools and school districts might offer free counseling to students, so it would be important to check with your child’s school and see what is offered.

How to Avoid High Therapy Costs

There are numerous ways a parent can avoid paying high therapy costs for their child, and these include the following:

  • Check with your insurance to get a list of in-network providers.
  • If you do not have insurance, check with your state’s Medicaid program about eligibility.
  • Check with you or your spouse’s employer, as some employers offer employee assistance programs. 
  • Take advantage of a Health Savings Account (HAS) and/or Flexible Spending Account (FSA)
  • Check with the local university or college as they might offer free or sliding-scale therapy programs.
  • Check with potential therapists regarding payments on a sliding-scale basis. Additionally, some therapists may also offer payment plans, which allow you to pay for therapy services for your child over time.

How to Find an Affordable Therapist

You might be overwhelmed with where to start and how to find an affordable therapist for your child. Not only do you want to find an affordable therapist, but also an individual who you think would be a good fit for your child.

By now you probably know that finding a therapist for your child can take some time and it can be stressful, therefore here are some ideas to keep in mind and ways to get started as you begin your search:

  • Contact the National Alliance on Mental Illness to find clinics in your area. They can also be reached at 1-800-950-6264.
  • Check the MentalHealth.gov website for resources.
  • Contact Mental Health America to find free mental health care.
  • Online therapy may be cheaper, as there are no physical and geographical boundaries affecting price.

Online Therapy

Online therapy could be a suitable option for families with busy schedules and who’s geographical location does not put them near any therapists. The following online platforms have therapists and professionals that are trained to work with children and teens: TalkSpace, TeenCounseling, Talkiatry, and Amwell.

With that said, it is important to acknowledge that online therapy is not suitable for children or teenagers who are in an emergency or crisis situation. 

Free Resources

Did you know there are free mental health resources out there to help you and your family? Rest assured because none of these resources cost a dime. Check out these free mental health care resources:

  • National Federation of Families for Children’s Mental Health has numerous resources and guides.
  • Local psychoanalytic training institutes may offer free therapy with a therapist in training.
  • A therapy start-up called REAL is offering free online group sessions and one-on-one appointments.
  • Joon Parenting Resources
  • TalkSpace, an online and mobile therapy company
  • Free therapist-led Facebook support groups
  • Mindfulness Meditation series through the UCLA Mindful App
  • There are numerous hotlines available for crisis situations. These include:
  • National Alliance on Mental Illness (1-800-950-6264)
  • National Suicide Prevention Hotline (1-800-273-8255)
  • Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) 24/7 Treatment Referral National Helpline (1-800-662-4357)

Takeaway

Although therapy can be expensive, it can offer strategies and techniques for managing thoughts, feelings, and issues that come up in your child’s life. There is a multitude of ways to avoid paying a high price for therapy, which can include looking into a therapist’s training, location, insurance coverage, and the type of therapy sought after. Ultimately, therapy can help your child manage stress and anxiety, reduce hyperactive symptoms, and achieve their goals in life.