Ah, therapy, the elusive grande dame of mental healthcare. It has been shown to help for a wide range of mental health issues, but for so many people it's inaccessible.
First of all, it's expensive. Often, insurance doesn't cover it. Other times, insurance does cover it and it's still too expensive. Or maybe you just can't find a good therapist. Or you did, but you feel weird about telling your boss and family you need to carve out time to see them.
We wanted to know: How are people making it work despite all these challenges? How are they paying for therapy, and how do their lives change when they do actually make it to the couch? Welcome to Therapy Diaries, where we explore all this and more.
To submit your experience to the therapy diaries, answer a few questions here.
Marie, Queens, New York, age 60
Are you in therapy now?
No, I lost my therapist in November due to her medical leave. I was in talk therapy and behavioral therapy for anxiety, panic attacks, social phobia, and bipolar disorder.
How often do you go, and how much does each session cost?
I was going once a week for 45 minutes. It cost $75.
Does your insurance help pay for this? If so, have you had any difficulty trying to get reimbursed for your therapy sessions?
Insurance will pay for six sessions per year with a $75 copay. My therapist allowed me to continue paying the $75 per session after the six visits were used up, or else I would have had to quit because I could not afford the self-pay rate of $200.
Has the cost ever deterred you from seeing a therapist?
Most definitely. Despite the fact that therapy is extremely helpful to me in being able to function normally and enjoy a good quality of life, I've gone years without. I'm currently seeking a new therapist, without any success.
Have you had to turn alternate strategies for dealing with mental health?
Vitamins, various dietary supplements, yoga, prayer and Church, over-eating, binge-eating, fasting, becoming a recluse, using my limited energies for my job and physical existence—the latter especially after losing two psychiatrists who prescribe medication but don't do therapy. During the last loss of both therapist and psychiatrist, I became technically homeless for four months.
What would you be spending that money on instead, if insurance actually covered therapy?
Saving and investing toward old age so I don't become a burden on society or end up a bag lady, dead in the street.
When you're able to do it consistently, how does being in therapy make you feel?
Normal! Like I am a person of value who has much to offer to others.
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.
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