We’ve got some big changes ahead in terms of health insurance and health care in general, and it’s going to take a little while to see how coverage for mental health is affected. The big question for many people is, «Will the changes to the health care laws affect how often I am allowed to see my therapist?» Psychotherapy and counseling can take a little while to be effective, and many of the therapeutic tactics and interventions that psychotherapists use are designed to be effective in a very short period of time—precisely because health care companies do NOT allow endless sessions.
That said, there are ways to extend the length of your health care coverage—for free. The methods below will allow you to continue mental health treatment, regardless of your insurance situation. Visit Local Mental Health Clinics. Most counties have a mental health clinic, run by trained professionals who provide free sessions. The clinics are usually funded by the state or local government, and usually do not charge a copay or a fee. Some clinics focus on certain issues, and help people who have certain problems, such as: —teenagers with diagnosed behavior disorders; —parents or families who have an adult family member with a serious mental health disorder, such as bipolar disorder or schizophrenia; or —victims of spousal abuse or stalking. There may be some barriers to treatment, however: Some other clinics may be at capacity, and not capable of admitted further clients.
In that case, you can enter your name for a clinician to work with when a space opens up. Look for Local Counselors Who Charge Cash Per Visit This is a strategy that will take a little while to implement, but many counselors will gladly take a motivated client for as little as $25 a session. For the most part, psychologists and mental health counselors entered the field to help others, and when they understand that sometimes «times get tough.» There are many different types of counselors who may accept small cash payments, but we have found that LCSW (Licensed Clinical Social Workers) are usually game to accept economically disadvantaged clients. Because social work training focuses so heavily on social and economic inequality, social workers are very aware of the financial challenges related to health care.
Of course, all counselors are trained to be empathetic, but we have heard many success stories with clients who have approached LCSWs. Try to Continue Sessions with Your Current Therapist If your current health care coverage only allows for 20 sessions, and you completed all of those sessions by midyear, ask you counselor is he or she would agree to accepting cash payments. He or she may decline, but you can also suggest that he or she call you for appointments when other patients cancel—which, as any psychotherapist will tell you—happens very, very frequently. As mentioned, most counselors truly want their clients to experience growth and life satisfaction, and will make arrangements so that a motivated client can continue sessions. Any good therapist will truly be rooting for his or her clients to do well, and will do anything possible so that they can continue treatment.
Final Thoughts There are some big changes on the horizon, and they may change the health care industry in major ways. What will those changes mean for people who are seeking counseling? Will patients be able to attend unlimited counseling sessions in a single year, or will those who seek therapy be limited, as they are now, to the sessions specific in their health care plans? As soon as we know, we’ll be sure to discuss the changes with you. In the meantime, the three strategies above will allow you to continue treatment regardless of how the industry develops.