If you're looking for help but can't afford private support, you still have options. Here we look at some alternative routes you can take
At the time of writing, we’re existing in a very strained time. More people are struggling financially as the cost of living crisis escalates. This in itself is taking a toll on mental health for many.
Even without this crisis in the picture, it’s important to recognise that paying for private therapy is inaccessible for some.
This doesn’t mean you don’t have options though. Here we want to talk through the different routes you can take to look after your mental health without spending more than you can afford.
Look into counselling on the NHS
This is the first route a lot of us go down. If you’re registered with a GP, you can access therapy for free through the Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) programme. The types of therapies you can access in this way will depend on your individual needs, but include cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), guided self-help (where a therapist supports you as you complete a self-help course, using a workbook or online) and counselling for depression (a specific type of counselling for those with depression).
There are several different ways your therapy may be delivered, from one-to-one and group sessions, to over-the-phone therapy and self-help courses. Going to your GP in the first instance can be helpful as they often suggest a therapy type and refer you. You don’t however need a referral from your doctor to access these therapies.
You can easily self-refer directly to a therapy provider in your area. Depending on where you live, you will need to be over the age of 16, 17 or 18 to do this. If you’re younger than this, you can get support from your local child and adolescent mental health service (CAMHS).
If you do self-refer, you’ll need to contact the therapy provider and they’ll come back to you within a few weeks to give you an assessment (usually done over the phone). This is where they’ll ask you for some more details of what you’ve been experiencing so they can understand how best to support you. They will then let you know when your first appointment will be.
What can be a barrier for some people on this route is the waiting time. The amount of time you’ll have to wait to get treatment will depend on a number of factors, including where you live. If the wait is long and you need help sooner, you may want to look into the other options below.
Consider low-cost therapy
There are some private practices and organisations that offer low-cost therapy. This may be a blanket fee for everyone, or they may offer concessions for those on benefits or low-income households. Never be afraid to ask about these when researching private therapists, while some will advertise them, others will work on a case by case basis.
You may also want to think about reaching out to therapy-training providers to see if trainee counsellors offer reduced rates. Trainee counsellors will need to complete at least 200 hours of therapy work before graduating, s