Poor College Student Needs Therapy. Typical.
July 19, 2008 8:20 AM   Subscribe

How do I, as a college student on a *very tight* budget, find a therapist?

I'm a student. I have very little money to spend on therapy. I need therapy. What do I do? How do I find a therapist?

Having a lot of unhappy/anxious feelings. Maybe grief issues.

I called the university counseling center for referrals, but I was told they couldn't help me because my semester doesn't start for another month. I don't really want to wait that long.

I'd rather not disclose my location on here, but PM me if those specifics would help.
posted by anonymous to Health & Fitness (19 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Google your state's name with the term 'human services.' That should lead you to subsidized healthcare for low income people.
posted by damn dirty ape at 8:24 AM on July 19, 2008

Also check your (or any local) university's social work department or guidance and counseling department, they typically have grad students doing counseling under supervision. This would be separate from your university's health services.

Many communities have a "211" referral service for human service needs as well.
posted by HuronBob at 8:27 AM on July 19, 2008

Also, call around. Some therapists operate on a sliding scale.
posted by spikeleemajortomdickandharryconnickjrmints at 8:27 AM on July 19, 2008

Some schools have counselors available on campus - sounds like you've been exploring that option already, and have to wait until your enrollment kicks in.

Whether your therapy winds up being through your school, the city, the county or whatever, you might think about starting a course of exercise in the mean time to at least give your brain a chemical edge against your pain. That might help stabilize you a little while you try to find a therapy option that works for you.
posted by EatTheWeak at 9:30 AM on July 19, 2008

Call around - confirming that a sliding scale can cost only 20 bucks a session (maybe less in some cases?) with a therapist, which is only five dollars more than a university grad student with a supervisor cost me a couple of years ago. They are out there, just start looking.
posted by alpha_betty at 9:38 AM on July 19, 2008

In case you haven't realised yet, nobody can PM you because you have posted anonymously. If you want private responses, create a random email address and get jessamyn or another mod (or a random friendly mefite) to post it here for you.
posted by jacalata at 9:40 AM on July 19, 2008

When I was a poor student I went to the in-training people at the local medical school.
posted by ClaudiaCenter at 9:44 AM on July 19, 2008

Most schools do have counselors available on campus, even between semesters. Ask them if they have someone on-call that you can talk to, and tell them that you feel it is rather urgent that you talk to someone. If not, ask them about a campus crisis line or something -- most universities will have a phone service that you can call and just talk to someone for a while. Your town/city may also have a similar crisis line that you can call and use.

Also, if your universities mental health service isn't willing to help you out, call the student medical center and get into see a doctor. Have them refer you to someone.

Yes, it sucks finding someone to talk to on campus, especially over the summer months. Most places have either had a whole class graduate and they lost a lot of counselors and they are waiting for the next batch, or most of their staff is on vacation/limited hours.

Best of luck.
posted by rand at 10:17 AM on July 19, 2008

On campus, you should able to get counseling for free if you are at a US school. Almost all colleges and universities have student counseling centers. If you can not wait, the suggestion to google 'human services'. I know in Missouri there are a number of agencies that will offer free counseling to low income folks in crisis.
posted by hworth at 10:32 AM on July 19, 2008

call the campus counseling service and ask for a referral. explain to them that the situation is urgent, and they will be able to help you find someone. or they may agree to see you and just charge you for it. in this kind of situation, it may be worth it.
posted by thinkingwoman at 10:50 AM on July 19, 2008

a tool like this:


might be useful. I used something like it to find my therapist. I don't know anything about your school, but school health centers have a reputation for providing JUST AWFUL mental health services. As mentioned above, many professional, $200/hr therapists charge on a sliding scale. You can probably find a $200 "value" for $25 or so.
posted by drjimmy11 at 11:46 AM on July 19, 2008

I got that line (that is, no services/appointments until the fall semester) way back in April. Complaining got me an appointment; not sure how that'll work for you.
posted by pullayup at 1:39 PM on July 19, 2008

I went to my dean and he helped me set up counseling sessions with a psychology graduate student. They're going to tape you (though you will remain anonymous) because they do need to use you for their classwork.
posted by spec80 at 2:06 PM on July 19, 2008

Sorry, I meant audiotape.
posted by spec80 at 2:06 PM on July 19, 2008

Do you have health insurance? Call your health insurance provider and ask them what their coverage entails with regard to therapy and request a list of local in-network providers. I did this and was able to find a therapist that was covered by my health insurance except for an $18/session copay.
posted by ludwig_van at 4:08 PM on July 19, 2008

Go to a counselor (read ACADEMIC counselor) at your school. Regardless of your issues, tell him you are having a lot of STRESS related problems. Your counselor should set you up with some sort of program through the school...usually its free.

Good luck.
posted by hal_c_on at 6:26 PM on July 19, 2008

I know you haven't in any way spoken of being suicidal, but IF at any point you should start feeling like you're on the brink, you can contact the national hopeline network at 1-800-SUICIDE. I hope you won't need that, though.

That said, my rec is to politely hassle the school health services and your academic dean - it's in your college's interest to help you get mental health care, if only because students who drop out because of mental breakdowns are bad for their rep, and students who are mentally well and pay them tuition are exactly what they want. (On a less cynical note, I will say that my own college dean shepherded me through the rougher semesters of college, and I remember her fondly.)
posted by bettafish at 11:12 PM on July 19, 2008

Where are you? In Brisbane there's something called Brisbane Mind where the gov subsidizes your mental care - you get 6 sessions for $20 each, and before/aftercare with a GP. Is there anything similar in your area?

Also see if there is a Disability Services (maybe Equity) in your uni. My uni has that and they prepare care plans for students with all sorts of health issues, mental health included. They can help you get an appointment.
posted by divabat at 8:48 PM on July 20, 2008

When I was in a similar situation I googled "my town," "therapist" and "sliding scale," which directed me to a few therapists. I called each of them and explained my situation. One (normally very high-priced) therapist agreed to meet with me at a reduced rate and we really hit it off. We agreed on a rate of $50 per session, which was a stretch for me - but was doable and made me feel like I was really investing in my mental health.
posted by jrichards at 7:36 AM on July 21, 2008

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