Finding affordable therapy

Published: December 16, 2021 10:56 AM EST
Updated: December 16, 2021 2:29 PM EST

Finding an affordable therapist with or without insurance is a challenge, but one you can overcome, thanks to less costly options that have emerged in Southwest Florida.

After nearly two years of COVID-19 chaos, and now another variant, people have been struggling mentally. People have lost jobs, lost loved ones, and need someone who will listen, but sometimes counseling is not in the budget. Your insurance might pay… or the therapist you want may not even accept it. But that’s where people like Margeaux Philpot come in.

“It is very hard in order to gain access to care if you don’t have the funds in order to get that care,” said Philpot, a master’s student at Florida Gulf Coast University. She’s getting her degree in mental health counseling from FGCU and works at the university’s Community Counseling Center, offering therapy in person or virtually on a sliding pay scale.

“I feel that I am able to make a difference, and I hope to be able to continue to make that difference even after I graduate and go out into the field,” Philpot said.

It costs $25 an hour, or whatever you make hourly, whichever is less. Dr. Alise Bartley, director of FGCU’s Community Counseling Center, oversees the program.

“Research shows that counseling works; it decreases the symptoms, the mental health issues that the client is experiencing,” Bartley said.

Catholic Charities of Collier County also does its best to make therapy accessible to everyone.

“The pandemic created a lot of isolation, a lot of anxiety, a lot of stress, job losses and uncertainty, right at a global level,” said Eduardo Gloria, CEO of the Catholic Charities Diocese of Venice. “We recognize that mental health is as critical as some primary things like housing, food, even education, so we know that if we are working hard to help individuals with some of these primary needs but their mental state is not where it needs to be, then a lot of these efforts tend to fall off.”

When the pandemic hit, Catholic Charities got rid of its sliding scale—sessions are free.

“In this time of need, this can really give you that that peace of mind or that serenity that you were looking for, it can help you heal from those wounds that maybe you’re not understanding what’s going on,” Gloria said.

“We are physical beings and we are mental beings,” Bartley said. “And because of that, we need to be certain that we’re getting the treatment that we need.”

When it comes to children, be sure to check with your local school district; they often partner with outside resources to get children the help they need.

Mental health resources

If you are struggling or if you know a loved one who is in trouble, there is help and you are not alone. There is free and immediate support available 24/7. Below is a list of important resources:

In An Emergency

If you or a loved one is in immediate danger call 911. It is important to notify the operator that it is a psychiatric emergency and ask for an officer trained in crisis intervention or trained to assist people experiencing a psychiatric emergency.

National Suicide Prevention Hotline
1-800-273-TALK (8255)

If you or someone you know is in crisis—whether they are considering suicide or not—please call the toll-free Lifeline at 800-273-TALK (8255) to speak with a trained crisis counselor 24/7.

Crisis Text Line – Text NAMI to 741-741

Connect with a trained crisis counselor to receive free, 24/7 crisis support via text message.

National Domestic Violence Hotline – Call 800-799-SAFE (7233)

Trained expert advocates are available 24/7 to provide confidential support to anyone experiencing domestic violence or seeking resources and information. Help is available in Spanish and other languages.

National Sexual Assault Hotline – Call 800-656-HOPE (4673)

Connect with a trained staff member from a sexual assault service provider in your area that offers access to a range of free services. Crisis chat support is available at Online Hotline. Free help, 24/7.

Below are mental health resources available to Southwest Floridians at the national and local level.

David Lawrence Center (Collier County)

SalusCare (Lee County)

(NAMI) National Alliance on Mental Illness, Collier County

(NAMI) National Alliance on Mental Illness, Lee, Charlotte, Hendry Counties

The National Alliance for Caregiving offers a free handbook
Circle of Care: A Guidebook for Mental Health Caregivers

Collier County Mental Health Court

Lee County Mental Health Court

Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance

Local Support Groups: Anxiety and Depression Association of America

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (Mental Health and Addiction Insurance Help)

Local veterans resource: Home Base SWFL