What should I do if I can’t afford a therapist right now?
“I have a panic disorder and this pandemic is really affecting me negatively, like most people worldwide. However, being out of work has left me with very little money and I haven’t had enough to see my therapist for almost a month. What should I do? Are there any resources out there?”
First, I want to recognize two things: You are certainly not alone—everyone is feeling this to some extent. And, simultaneously and perhaps more important, your specific individual experience right now is valid and worthy of support. You may know this already; I just wanted to reiterate to you as a recognition, and perhaps as an assurance.
If you haven’t already, reach out to your therapist’s office to ask about “sliding scale” payment; they may have updated policies in light of the pandemic and may be able to be a little more flexible with you at this time. There may be lower-cost options for therapy, but I understand that changing therapists is a huge deal and might be especially difficult during this time (which is why this won’t be my only recommendation). Open Path Collective, Betterhelp, and Talkspace offer online therapy in a more affordable price range. If you live near a university, there may be options for therapists-in-training that you can speak to at a lower cost as well. Maybe these will work for you, but maybe “affordable” still won’t cut it. That’s okay!
The internet is a lovely place, despite all of its messiness, and it can offer up some resources. (If this is a trigger for you, skip it! Some spaces may not be for you right now, and social media could very well be one of them.) I’m personally returning to this tweet thread, which is full of hope and support and practical advice. You can search sites like Reddit and Twitter for people who share your experience. Note: if a space does not suit you or makes you feel worse for having joined it, you have full permission to remove yourself.
Find podcasts with voices that support you—they don’t even have to be podcasts specifically focused on mental health or panic disorders. Dear Sugar always calms my heart when I’m feeling heavy, but maybe a lighthearted podcast on comedy, cooking, or classic movies would suit you better. More than anything, sometimes I just crave hearing a soothing voice. Music is a comfort, as well.
Eating healthy, nourishing foods and practicing light movement might help support you right now. Allow it to look like what you need, and not what some influencer on Instagram needs. Maybe it’s a three-minute dance party in your kitchen, maybe it’s a few stretches on your doorstep, or maybe it’s not moving at all and lying on the floor in a quiet savasana. When I’m wrapped up in worry, I imagine my body as one that needs tending, like a child or a pet. I try to care for myself like someone who is dear and who is fragile—because, after all, isn’t everyone? You are a strong person, and you are also deserving of loving care. Both of these things, again, can be true.
Finally, reach out to your friends or family, if you have people you trust, and ask for precisely the support you need. If they can’t help financially, maybe they can check in with you at an agreed-upon frequency to make sure you are caring for yourself—or to ask how you’re really feeling. Outline the questions you want them to ask you that will support you in the way you need. People can be beautiful and rise to the occasion and are capable of opening up even more space during times like this.
From one internet stranger’s heart to another, you have my support.
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Emily Torres is the Managing Editor at The Good Trade. She’s a Los Angeles transplant who was born and raised in Indiana, where she studied Creative Writing and Business at Indiana University. You can usually find her reading or writing, caring for her rabbits, or practicing at the yoga studio.