The local guide to finding affordable counseling in Charlotte, NC

The local guide to finding affordable counseling in Charlotte, NC

You’re interested in starting counseling, but you don’t want to break the bank to get the help you need.

Is there even such a thing as affordable counseling in Charlotte?

You may be surprised to learn that there is a range of options for low-cost and even free therapy in the Queen City.

Problem is, finding affordable counselors in Charlotte is no easy task. That’s why we created this local guide on how and where to find low-cost counseling in Charlotte.

Our hope is that this comprehensive guide will assist you and other Charlotteans in finding the support you deserve, at a cost you can afford.        

(Note that we update this page regularly. If you know of affordable counseling options in Charlotte that aren’t mentioned below, please email us at [email protected] so we can add them to our growing list.)

How much does counseling in Charlotte cost?

To get started, let’s look at the average cost of counseling in Charlotte.

The cost of therapy varies widely by region. Here in Charlotte, counseling fees are mostly consistent with, if not slightly less than, other major metropolitan areas.  

Naturally, therapy fees also tend to vary based on each therapist’s education, experience, and areas of specialization.

As a general guide, therapist directories such as Psychology Today, Therapy Den, and Theravive list out-of-pocket fees for individual therapy sessions in the Charlotte area between $75 and $300. However, Therapy Den reports that the average price for therapy in Charlotte is $150, which is consistent with the median price of all U.S. therapists.

Keeping this figure in mind should help you determine which counseling options in our city are truly affordable and which ones are average or above average.    

Next, let’s look at the different options available to you for affordable counseling in Charlotte, NC.

If you have them, insurance benefits can significantly reduce the cost of counseling

Before we dig into resources and treatment options specific to the Charlotte area, it pays to know the different ways you might be able to cover or offset the costs associated with therapy.  

For starters, if you have insurance, counseling may be far more affordable than you realize. Not all counselors in Charlotte accept insurance, but you can easily find out which counselors are in-network providers with your plan using Psychology Today’s therapist directory.

Begin by searching for therapists in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Then, under “insurance,” select your insurance company to see which area therapists are in-network with your plan.

Many insurance plans cover the full cost of psychotherapy sessions or only require you to pay a small co-pay, usually between $25 and $50.    

Even if your specific plan doesn’t include the most robust behavioral health benefits, you’ll likely only end up paying the therapist’s contracted rate with your insurance company, which usually works out to be somewhere between $60 and $100.

Medicare & Medicaid benefits cover therapy in many cases

Not all, but many Charlotte counselors also accept Medicare and/or Medicaid. The steps for finding local counselors who accept these federal plans are the same as those outlined above for private insurance.

Simply select “show more insurances” on Psychology Today to reveal the Medicare or Medicaid options.

Cash and credit aren’t the only ways to pay for therapy

While private insurance is one of the most common ways many of us reduce our cost for therapy, it’s far from your only option.

Other options to help offset your investment in therapy include a Health Savings Account (HSA), Flexible Spending Account (FSA), or an Employee Assistant Program (EAP) through your work. Many times, people have these benefits and are simply unaware that they can be applied to individual therapy.

Let’s look at each of these benefits more closely.

Health Savings Accounts:

An HSA, as its name implies, is a savings account you contribute funds to that can only be used for health-related expenses. People are often pleasantly surprised to learn that these funds can be used to cover the cost of therapy. Additionally, because these accounts are tax-advantaged, meaning you don’t pay income taxes on the funds you put into them, they essentially make therapy tax-free.    

Flexible Spending Accounts:

FSAs work just like HSAs with one important exception: these funds do not roll over from year to year. In other words, these accounts are “use it or lose it,” which might provide you with further incentivize to start therapy, especially as the end of the year approaches.      

Employee Assistant Programs:

EAPs are a lesser-known employee benefit offered by certain companies. In Charlotte, many of our larger employers, such as Bank of America and Microsoft, offer this specific benefit. With EAPs, your employer agrees to cover the cost of a set number of counseling sessions per year, usually 10. As with private insurance, you’re limited to working with therapists who are contracted with your specific EAP plan. But in most cases, your sessions will be free of cost.  

Financial assistance for counseling in Charlotte

What if you don’t have insurance or other work-related health benefits? Believe it or not, you may still be able to get into therapy for less than you think.

Psychology For All is a Charlotte-based nonprofit that exists to help individuals and families living in the greater Charlotte-Mecklenburg area gain access to psychotherapy. For those who qualify, the organization provides funding for up to 8 counseling sessions with a participating counselor or psychologist in the Charlotte area. If your provider recommends additional sessions, you can complete another 8 sessions at a cost of $20 per session.

Additional program information, including steps for applying, can be found here.

Which Charlotte counselors offer a sliding fee?

Many counselors in the Charlotte area offer a sliding-scale fee structure, adjusting their cost for services based on your level of income. Not sure if a specific counselor offers a sliding fee? It never hurts to ask!

Easier still, websites like Open Path Psychotherapy Collective and Open Counseling can help you to find Charlotte therapists who see a set number of therapy clients (usually 2 or so) at a reduced fee. With Open Path Collective, you can easily see which of these counselors are accepting new clients, and individual sessions are always between $30 and $60.    

Consider therapy groups in Charlotte

When it comes to seeking counseling, most of us immediately think of individual therapy. But research shows that group therapy can be equally effective—and at a significantly lower cost.

At Modern Era Counseling, for example, our therapy groups generally meet weekly or bi-weekly for 90 minutes, with meetings ranging from $40 to $50.

Not sure what group therapy is all about? Check out our blog post How Group Therapy Can Change Your Life.

You can also find a list of our current therapy group offerings here.

Psychology Today is another great place to find therapy groups in Charlotte.   

Free and low-cost clinics that offer counseling services in Charlotte

Charlotte has many community health clinics that offer a wide range of health and wellness services to residents of Mecklenburg County. The clinics listed below each provide individual counseling services at reduced rates.     

Community mental health programs in Charlotte

In many cases, people are unaware of the public options for mental health care made available to them in the Charlotte community. People who are aware of these public options commonly assume that public mental health programs only serve those in crisis or lack the means to access private services.

This isn’t always the case, however.    

Charlotte has many community mental health programs that offer a range of services to the wider Charlotte community. Due to the large number of programs serving Mecklenburg County, the biggest challenge can be finding the local programs that are best suited to your unique set of concerns and circumstances.

Not sure whether you’re a candidate for mental health services at a specific program? Contacting Cardinal Innovations or utilizing the organization’s online search tools are great places to start. Cardinal, which is our local Managed Care Organization in Charlotte, provides comprehensive behavioral health services to residents of Mecklenburg and other surrounding counties in North Carolina.

To get started, you can call Cardinal Innovations at the numbers below:

  • 704-939-7700 (local number)
  • 800-939-5911 (crisis line)

Calling these regional numbers is free, and the person you speak with will be able to help point you toward local inpatient or outpatient programs.

Contracted outpatient mental health providers in Charlotte:

The list below provides contact information for a range of local agencies in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg area that offer outpatient counseling services. Each of these agencies is contracted with Cardinal to offer publicly funded counseling services for children and adults.

Remember, if you’re not sure which program to call, you can contact Cardinal Innovations at one of the numbers above to receive additional information and recommendations. You can also use Cardinal’s online provider search tool to search for local providers by specialty and service category.

Keep in mind that therapy is an investment in a better you

Before starting therapy, it’s always a good idea to consider the financial implications and how they’ll affect your personal budget. After all, individual counseling and therapy can represent a significant financial commitment—one that warrants careful consideration.

However, good counseling is more of an investment than an expense. The resources you put into counseling—money, time, and energy—can generate significant long-term benefits that far outweigh the financial costs of meeting with your therapist. In many cases, working with an effective therapist who is well-matched to your specific needs will pay for itself many times over. Yes, even financially.

In short, it pays to find a Charlotte counselor who is a good fit for you and your unique needs.

Are you interested in meeting with a licensed counselor in Charlotte? Contact Modern Era Counseling today to learn more about how we help Charlotteans like you navigate the messy landscape of modern life with purpose and authenticity.    

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