Husband vs. Wife: Getting Therapy on the Cheap

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Lori and Marek Fuchs have never fought in their 16 years of marriage—except over money. In this column, Mr. and Mrs. Fuchs, a real-life married couple with three kids (ages 12, 7 and 5), articulate their very different approaches to personal finance.

In this round, he says: Pyschotherapy is too expensive for just anyone. She says: Think again, there are definite ways to save.

Mr. Fuchs: Dr. Mrs. Fuchs, when you are not dispensing financial planning advice in this column, you work as a therapist.  My only experience in the mental health field is as a patient, but there is one thing I do know: Psychotherapy is expensive. But sometimes, during difficult times like these, people really need to talk to someone. Problem is, the expense of psychotherapy can itself add to their troubles and anxieties.

Mrs. Fuchs: That’s true. But Mr. Fuchs, if you are really keen on addressing yourhmm, shall we call them “your issues” there are plenty of places to go besides the private, pay-big-bucks-out-of-pocket route.

Mr. Fuchs: Good, because $175 an hour, which lasts forty-five minutes in your racket, will give me more issues than I have to begin with.

Mrs. Fuchs: Really? Whatever the case, you — and others — have three good options.

Mr. Fuchs: Do tell.

Mrs. Fuchs: Well, first of all, many therapists, both psychologist and licensed clinical social workers, have a sliding scale, especially if they are starting a private practice.

Mr. Fuchs: A sliding what? What is this psychology or the local playground?

Mrs. Fuchs: A sliding scale meaning that they are flexible with their fee if you ask and can explain why you aren’t able to pay the full fee. Some are willing to go quite low in certain cases it never hurts to ask.

Mr. Fuchs: Ah, sometimes a fee is not really a fee. Didn’t Freud say something like that about cigars? Anyhow, any other options to prevent psychological care from becoming a major source of financial anxiety, Doc?

Mrs. Fuchs: The first place I’d actually start is with my insurance company. Find out who is on their panel and how many sessions they will pay for. Most insurance companies pay for at least 20 sessions a year, which can really help if you’re in a stressful situation. Once you get the list of providers, ask your doctor and friends who they like from the list and interview them to make sure they are a good fit.

Mr. Fuchs: It’s the first place you’d start, but you mentioned it second? ‘Vy do you subordinate ‘zese things? ‘Ve must explore.

Mrs. Fuchs: Always the comedian. Anyway, if insurance isn’t an option, the next place to check out is the local university or post graduate center. Most have training clinics that provide therapy to the public as an educational experience for their students. You get an enthusiastic student who is closely supervised by an experienced licensed clinician at a fraction of the cost.

Mr. Fuchs: What kind of fraction?

Mrs. Fuchs: Well, when I was in a post graduate program a few years ago, I saw patients for as little as $15 a session – it really can be that low. Again: call up, explain your financial situation, and ask about the fee.

Mr. Fuchs: Anything else?

Mrs. Fuchs: Nope. Your 45 minutes are up. I’ll bill you.

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