Counselling and the Bottom Line (sliding scale, insurance, EAPs, local services)
Accessing counselling can be a costly endeavor. There are a few things to look for if cost is a concern for you:
1) Recommended Rates
The Psychological Association of Alberta (PAA) recommends a fee of $220 for a 50 minute counselling session. As this fee recommendation is a guide, counsellor’s fees are at their discretion and may vary significantly from one another. You should be informed about fees prior to the delivery of services.
2) Sliding Scale
Some counselling agencies and practices offer reduced rates to people with fewer resources. Often, the sliding scale determines rate based on one’s level of income. The range of the sliding scale and whether one must verify income depends on the practice. When looking for a counsellor, feel free to ask whether they have a sliding scale.
In our practice, the sliding scale ranges from $130 to $220 for a full 60 minute session. Proof of income is not required to access the sliding scale.
3) Insurance Coverage
Many extended medical plans cover counselling. The amount of coverage and the which type of professional is covered varies significantly from plan to plan. In Alberta, extended medical plans typically cover Registered Psychologists whereas other counselling professionals are less frequently included in coverage. If you plan to use your insurance to cover (or help cover) the cost of counselling. be sure to ask your insurance provider for details about your plan prior to engaging with a counselling professional.
4) Direct Billing
Many health services can directly bill your insurance provider. This saves you from having to pay for the service, submit the paperwork to the insurance company, and wait for reimbursement. While a small percentage of counsellors offer direct billing, many do not. If you are unsure if this option is available, feel free to ask.
At Clearview Counselling, direct billing to many insurance companies is available. Please inquire to find out if your insurance company is included in the option for direct billing.
5) Employee Assistance Programs
Companies and businesses often provide their employees with Employee Family Assistance Programs (EFAP or EAPs) that include free counselling support. Often, these programs will provide you or your family members with 3-10 sessions of counselling. Check with your HR department or extended medical provider to find out if this is an option available to you.
6) Free or Low-cost Local Resources
You may have access to counselling through the communities you are a part of. Schools and faith communities, for example, often have on-site counselling resources. In addition, many local non-profit organizations offer counselling to community members who are dealing with whatever presenting concern the agency focuses to support (eg. Poverty; Domestic Violence; Grief; Sexuality; etc.). Often, these services will be free or low cost. Even if these services are not a fit for you, they can often help to point you in the direction of something else that may better meet you needs.
I believe that counselling and mental health supports should be accessible to everyone. If you are interested in participating in counselling but are concerned about cost, please feel free to reach out to me. I have a sliding scale available and am willing to negotiate rates that fit your needs.