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How Can I Negotiate Fees with My Therapist?

How Can I Negotiate Fees with My Therapist?

One of the things we see a lot with private practice therapists is that there’s a hesitancy to deviate from their standard fee offering – depending on their location and expertise, the cost per hour to receive treatment can be substantial, and if you are paying for a service out of pocket, this can be a huge barrier to receiving needed treatment. Luckily for consumers, many therapists are willing to work with clients on a case-by-case basis to offer sliding scale fees, or fees that are reduced for certain clients based on their needs and circumstances. Read below for more information on how you can have this conversation with a potential therapist and pay what you can afford for counseling.

Communicate from the Beginning About What You Can Afford

When you begin your therapy search, look for therapists that specifically advertise that they offer a sliding-scale fee option. Often times, these therapists will reduce fees for clients who are experiencing financial hardship, especially if that circumstance is caused by the presenting need for therapy (such as the loss of a loved one, inability to work due to depression or anxiety, etc.). When you reach out to these therapists, be open and clear from the beginning that you are hoping to be approved for sliding-scale – many of them will hold a limited number of client spots for this service, and they should tell you right away whether they can accommodate this request.

Show a Willingness to Be Flexible

Therapists, like all of us, perform a service with the expectation of reimbursement, so if your therapist is open to sliding-scale, be willing to work with them on making the arrangement mutually beneficial. This might mean scheduling sessions for off-peak hours (such as morning appointments), working with a therapist trainee that is building their experience, and taking fill-in appointments when other clients reschedule. By showing this flexibility and committing to it, you also show your therapist a level of appreciation for the accommodation they’ve made, making them more likely to continue to offer the lower fee over the long-term.

If You Are Paying Out of Pocket, Ask for a Fee Reduction

Just like the world of physical health, many therapists advertise certain fees knowing that they will only receive a certain percentage of that back from insurance companies. If you are paying out-of-pocket, ask if your fee can be reduced at least to what their expected reimbursement from insurance would have been. Not only does this keep what you are paying on par with insured clients, but it also saves your therapist the hassle of filing insurance reimbursement forms and disputing denials. However, if you are paying out-of-pocket, make sure to pay timely and in full – not paying these bills when expected may cause your therapist to rescind the lower fee and can possibly result in late payment penalties.

Altogether, many therapists will be willing to work with you based on your needs and ability to pay. If you’re having trouble locating a therapist who can accommodate your needs, use our therapist directory to be linked to providers in your area who have already committed to offering lower-cost services. With communication, flexibility, and assertiveness, you can connect with a great therapist who meets your needs – just remember to offer back these qualities as a client to keep your therapist open to the arrangement.

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Jennifer Novack
Posted on 04/15/2017 by Jennifer Novack

Jennifer is a writer for OpenCounseling. She has worked at a number of state and non-profit organizations, providing counseling, training, and policy development