The cost of counseling and psychotherapy varies widely, apparently dictated by geographical location, the provider’s degree level, and whether the services are being provided privately or through a county or community mental health system.
In terms of dollars and cents it is impossible to say what one should pay. Ideally, our medical delivery system is set up so that one pays only what one can afford. As a consequence, fees will range from as little as $1.00 or $2.00 to $200.00 to $250.00 per hour.
In the San Francisco bay area the fees range from, on average, $25.00 to $100.00 per hour. That means some fees are higher and some lower. Typically, psychiatrist fees (per hour) will begin at $125.00, and top out at about $285.00. Psychologist fees begin at around $90.00 and go to somewhere around $150.00. Marriage, Family and Child Counselor fees may slide up to around $100.00, depending upon the locale, and whether or not the MFCC license holder possesses a Ph.D. or a Master’s level degree.
Currently, you will find therapists across the country who are willing to negotiate fees. This willingness primarily results from, and is an unfortunate effect of managed care. It is certainly positive to reduce one’s fees, and should probably occur more frequently than it already does for the sake of the those less able to pay the full fee . However, it is most unfortunate that insurance companies and other second or third party payers are now refusing to reimburse for psychotherapy and counseling to the degree they once did. Therefore, suffice it to say that the number of referrals coming to therapists is significantly below what it was in the 1970′s and 1980′s. Many third party payers, HMO’s, and managed care companies, have either reduced mental health benefit coverage drastically, or cut it out altogether.