Ciara Bush is a writer for BUILT BY GIRLS, which prepares the next generation of female and non-binary leaders to step into their power and break into their careers. WAVE is the backbone of BUILT BY GIRLS: it’s a 1:1 matching program that connects high school and college students with top tech professionals across the country. For more information and to sign up check out builtbygirls.com.
For many people who used to think therapy was an unnecessary cost with little return, 2020 has likely provided some perspective.
You would be in good company if you’ve experienced intense anxiety, an existential crisis, depression, or even some pretty justified rage in the last year. While in my current home of New York City, we are part of an established stereotype of well-therapized individuals, it didn’t stop me from waiting until I was 30 to finally explore therapy.
There are often feelings of shame or aversion to going to therapy. Does it mean I’m weak if I go? What will others think? Can I really talk openly to a stranger? Are my inner thoughts too dark or private for someone else to hear? Can I even pay for this? These are all valid questions that all of us who approach therapy have thought. There are many hurdles to starting, but there are also many rewards.
Therapy can help you unravel years of unhealthy thinking or frustrations; it can help change your perspective on the hurdles in your life; it can give you strategies for shifting your mindset or even fostering better relationships with loved ones in your life.
The sessions can feel like chats with a best friend, a career coach advising you on your next steps at work, or even a private cry session when you cancel your wedding for the second time in 2020 or your school just went back online.
While it’s super helpful for tackling those big scary feelings of anxiety and depression, you don’t have to wait until you’re in a crisis to start. In fact, starting now can help you develop the tools and strategies for going forward with thoughtfulness and reflection in your life. We’re about to enter a tough winter in the middle of a pandemic. Holidays are being all but canceled and nothing feels totally normal. Maybe now is the right time.
Here are some steps you can take to help reduce the stigma of going to therapy and justify the cost in your head.
Don’t let the cost get in the way
Therapy generally ranges from $65 per hour to $250 or more each session, according to GoodTherapy.org. That may sound like a lot, but health insurance policies can help cover some of those costs. In fact, the Affordable Care Act stipulates that all insurance plans must cover mental health care. So, that can bring down co-pays to just a few dollars to $50 or more.
If you don’t have insurance, check to see if you qualify for Medicaid or can find an affordable option on the HealthCare.gov marketplace in your state. Some workplaces may provide employee assistance to pay for therapy, while some colleges provide free or sliding-scale therapy programs to help students training as therapists.
Your mental health is important, so taking the time to find an affordable therapy option is worth it!
Just start going
Ok, maybe you’re thinking, “Hey that’s crazy, I’m too nervous to start!” Well, guess who can help you with all those negative feelings and shame? A therapist! Seriously, just start by starting and bring all those feelings to your first session. It’s a great place to begin your therapy journey.
Find someone you can trust
Just like finding a good primary care doctor or mentor, finding a good therapist is something you have the right to do. You can even see someone once, and decide it’s not a good fit, and go somewhere else.
Good places to start are looking through databases like Psychology Today and Inclusive Therapists to find someone who not only can validate your identity, experience, and beliefs — but also takes your insurance, too.
Talk about it
A big part of reducing the stigma, is to just start talking about it. Start with close friends and family, then when you’re feeling brave, branch out to your peers and coworkers.
I’m lucky because I have a workplace and boss who is super supportive and allows me to shift my work schedule on days I have therapy. You may find you have this, too, or might start it yourself.
What you may also find is that you’re not alone. Once you start spreading the news, others may feel more comfortable talking about their therapy journeys, or even their own fears of going. So try it out, and help to shift the culture from one of weakness, to one of strength.
Therapy is much more than a sunk cost. It’s an opportunity for you to care for your whole self. You wouldn’t skip the doctor if you had a chronic illness. Think of taking care of your mind in the same way.
Read more information and tips in our Spending section