Making Therapy Affordable: The Open Path Psychotherapy Collective

We know that mental health care is expensive. For most it’s more expensive than they can afford. I didn’t begin to fully experience the disparity of wealth in our country until I set out to build my private psychotherapy practice six years ago.

I launched my practice with some naïveté: I wanted to help as many people as possible. I took on clients at a low fee. But gradually reality dawned: I couldn’t afford to take on too many low-fee clients. I just wasn’t going to be able to provide for my family if I did.

One night a woman called me in crisis. As we talked I realized that I wasn’t going to be able to help her: My waiting list was already too long. Heart sinking, I referred her to the mental health agency in my county. I felt like a cog in a system I didn’t embrace. She would probably encounter delays and uncertain care there: Very likely she made too much money to qualify for their services.

It was a pivotal moment for me. And I had too many other moments like it. I started to think about how to solve the problem. I looked at my local farmer’s market. If the small farmers in my area could help each other reach the public, why couldn’t therapists in private practice?

We’ve all seen therapists depicted on television shows. They seem harbored in office islands unto themselves. These depictions are almost always oversimplified, but there is something television gets right: Private practices are for the most part private, isolated from each other.

I started to think: What if psychologists, psychotherapists, and social workers working privately could band together on the Internet — and make themselves available for low-cost sessions in their local area? I found a wonderful group of therapists already doing this in Boulder, Colo. where I’d received my graduate training. Why not try to do this on a national level?

Read full article by Paul Fugelsand, Huffington Post

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