Can you afford counselling sessions in the midst of a recession?

There’s no getting away from the fact that when times are bad, we often feel bad too.

Research by numerous medical journals such as The Lancet (July 2009) has shown, perhaps rather unsurprisingly, that there is a link between economic crises and the level of depression and loneliness, and even self-harm and feelings of suicide, experienced by people coming to terms with changes in their economic circumstances.

Feelings of uncertainty can be difficult to manage and financial uncertainty, perhaps fears about redundancy or a cut in working hours, can have a profound effect on our self-esteem, our anxiety levels, and also affect our relationships with others.

In more prosperous times we may consider getting some help, in the form of counselling or psychotherapy, with the difficulties we are facing – perhaps a feeling of loneliness, of low self-esteem, problems in our relationships, the ‘emotional baggage’ we know we’re carrying around with us but can’t quite turn around to face.

Problems and difficulties don’t go away in a financial crisis; in fact they may get considerably worse. But how do you get the kind of help you need when you feel you can’t afford it? You may want to consider if you can afford not to seek help. Problems and difficulties are unlikely to disappear by just ignoring them, and according to research by the BACP a staggering 95% of us agree that it’s a good idea to seek therapy before a problem gets out of hand.

For some people it may be possible to get free counselling. Students (either at school or college) will usually have access to free counselling at the institution where they’re studying. Under 25s can usually get some free counselling from local charitable organisations. There may be a wait of 2-3 months, and sessions may be limited to a maximum of 12, but this is still a good option if you are a young person.

Young people and adults may also be able to get 5 to 10 sessions of counselling through their employers, if their employer runs an Employee Assistance Programme. Your Human Resources department is the best place to ask. Alternatively your Doctor’s surgery will have access to counselling on the NHS. Availability varies, but a waiting list of a few months is usual and an offer of 6 to 12 sessions might also be typical.

If you decide to take the private route to seeking counselling or psychotherapy you can expect to get your first appointment within 7 to 14 days. Prices for sessions vary between about £35 and £50 per session. Weekly sessions are often thought to be best. One analogy is to think of it like making a cup of tea – it’s difficult to make a great cup if you’re constantly taking the kettle off the boil.

If attending weekly is more than you can afford you could negotiate fortnightly sessions with your counsellor. This will half the cost, but will extend the time it takes to navigate the issues you wish to work on in counselling. An alternative is to seek out group therapy, where groups of up to about 8 people meet on a weekly basis with a group psychotherapist. This can often be the cheapest way to receive therapy.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author. All articles published on Counselling Directory are reviewed by our editorial team.

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