Q: I have been looking for a professional Christian counselor, but none in my area take insurance, and many charge $100 to $150 or more per session, which I can't afford at this time. Where can I find professional counseling that is Christian and affordable?
A: It's hard enough going through a difficult season in your life when you feel like you can't afford the help you really need. Local churches may offer pastoral or biblical counseling, but some issues require more attention and expertise. At the same time, we all understand that any professional has their own need to make a living. Here are a few options to consider if you need to find professional counseling that won't hit you too hard in the pocket book:
1. Find a therapist who offers a sliding scale. Many professional counselors have the practice of offering sessions on a sliding scale (sometimes around a reduced rate between $40 to $80 a session). It's common practice for professional counselors to offer a few slots to select clients who cannot afford their full fee. You may need to call around to find a Christian counselor in your area who has openings for clients who need to pay on a sliding scale.
2. Look for an intern who can provide counseling at a lower rate. Counseling interns are counselors who have not yet completed the requirements for full licensure. Interns have often completed or are currently completing their Master's degree, and provide counseling under the supervision of a more experienced fully-licensed clinician. Many times, agencies that employ interns offer counseling services with their interns at a reduced rate. Call around to see if any counseling centers near you have interns that can see you at a lower rate.
3. Check your existing benefits. If you have health insurance benefits through your employer, call the number on the back of your insurance card and ask if you have mental health coverage. Let the insurance representative know that you are looking for a faith-based counselor. Your place of employment may also offer an Employment Assistance Program (EAP) where you can access mental health counseling at little or no cost to you. Contact your HR department to see if your work provides an EAP program.
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This information is given with the understanding that the author is not rendering medical or legal advice. This is provided for educational purposes only. Names and identifying information have been omitted.