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What is a sliding scale fee?

Sliding scale fees refer to the range of session fees that a therapist is willing to accept for clients with limited resources.

For instance, while a therapist's standard session fee might be $150 per session, they may list a sliding scale of $80 - $150. This means that when possible, they will work flexibly within your budget and offer lower fees to help you receive mental health care.

You can ask for a sliding scale at any time, starting with your initial call with a therapist. You can also ask about a sliding scales if you've been seeing a therapist for a period of time and your health insurance changes; they might be more likely to work within your budget if they already have an established relationship with you. Just be aware and try not to take it personally if your request is declined. Whether a therapist offers a sliding scale at any given time depends on how many of their clients are already paying low fees, and it can’t hurt to ask a few therapists for this option.