Help is out there
Whether you’re going through a tough time or just want to take better care of your mental health, therapy can be a great option. And it's always worth looking to see what's available in your area. But with the average weekly session costing £55, it is not one that’s affordable for many people.
If you look in the right places though, there are a number of services and organisations out there making it more accessible. Here is a selection of some more affordable options, from working with trainees to online chat services.
If you’re reading this and need urgent help, call Samaritans for free on 116 123.
There are great services available on the NHS for free, the catch is that you will probably have to join a long waiting list to get them. The therapy on offer is also short-term, from around six to 12 sessions. It will likely involve cognitive behavioural therapy which provides a more practical approach to mental health. Your GP can refer you or you can refer yourself online.
School or University
Most schools and universities provide a free counselling service. If you’re still in education, visit your institution’s website for more information on what’s available.
Especially if you’re part of a big company, there might be ways of getting therapy for free or at a lower rate through work. Some workplaces even employ a staff therapist, though this is unusual. If you have health insurance through your work, it may cover at least some of the cost of going to see someone.
Reduced fee therapy
There are a number of organisations across the UK that provide psychotherapy at lower rates to people on low incomes or on benefits. These organisations will likely negotiate the fee with you according to what you earn and many offer you the option to have therapy with a student.
Therapy with a trainee can be very cheap, at £5 to £10 a session, but usually requires a bit of commitment. You may have to sign up to more than one session a week over a period of two years.
The Free Psychotherapy Network have a list of places offering reduced fee therapy. We’ve highlighted a few below.
The London-based charity offers affordable therapy with a qualified psychotherapist and reduced fee therapy with a student. You’ll need to attend an initial consultation in North London which will cost £40.
Focusing on Jungian and Psychoanalytic psychotherapy, the foundation provides low cost therapy with trainees and graduates across the UK. The reduced fee scheme requires seeing your therapist three times a week.
The organisation can connect you with counselling and psychotherapy trainees and graduates. All fees are negotiated on an individual basis and the network spans the UK.
Getting therapy as part of a group can be more than 50% cheaper than one-on-one therapy. You also have the added bonus of learning through other people’s experiences and expanding your support network. The Institute of Group Analysis is one organisation that offers group psychotherapy and some therapists allocate spaces to people who can only pay a reduced fee.
Apps and online services
While nothing beats speaking to someone face-to-face, online options can be much cheaper and more immediate.
You can get online counselling from BetterHelp from $40 (£31) a week. After being matched with a counsellor, you can communicate with them via chat, video or on the phone.
This free app uses cognitive behavioural therapy techniques to help you spot when you are falling into unhealthy thinking traps.
If you’re looking for relationship therapy, charity Relate offers a free online chat service with one of their counsellors. Sessions normally last for around 25 minutes.