Cost of Counseling Therapy in Twin Cities MSP Metro
© 2021 Richard Chandler, MA, LPC, Masters in Psychotherapy, Licensed Professional Counselor
Every year, countless Minnesotans suffer from untreated mental distress and illness. In 2019, The National Alliance on Mental Illness found that one in every five U.S. adults experiences some form of mental illness. Of those adults who deal with mental illness, only 43% receive treatment. That leaves the majority of Americans without a path to recover from mental illnesses. According to a recent National Survey on Drug Use and Health, "more than half of participants cited financial factors for not receiving treatment (therapy or medications)."
It's important to note that this data does not include those who don't have a mental illness but would greatly benefit from therapy or marriage counseling. Finances can play a huge role in your decision to proceed with therapy or not. Treatment price can vary based on the type of mental health professional you see, your location, and the number of sessions you need.
While price, insurance coverage, and deductibles are significant, they are far from the only factors you should consider when choosing a therapist. Take time to weigh the impact not going to therapy might have on your happiness and relationships.
It is possible to find quality affordable counselors whether you live in the city or the suburbs. We compiled data from mental health professionals across the Twin Cities Metro area and surrounding suburbs to determine the average cost of counseling therapy in Minnesota.
Sliding Fee Schedule
Based on Combined Household Income, before Taxes
Under $100,000 = $115.00
$100,000 - $119,999 = $135.00
$120,000 - $139,999 = $155.00
$140,000 + = $175.00
How much does therapy cost in Minnesota?
Searching for a therapist can be overwhelming. Luckily there are hundreds of options to choose from, both in-person and online. We've compiled data from across the Twin Cities and surrounding suburbs to help you compare counselors by price, specialty, and location. Please look at our charts to see what therapy costs in the Twin Cities.
How We Found This MN Counseling Cost Data
To find data, we referenced Psychology Today's listings of therapists in the area. We took at least a 20% sample of therapists from each location. For each city, we recorded data from all the therapists displayed on the first page. For the cities that only had a few therapists listed, we took the entire city sample.
For cities with pages up to five, we sampled one page of listings. For those with ten pages of listings, we recorded two. If there were twenty pages, we recorded three, and so on. In each listing, we took a minimum of 20% of the data available. Of the data we collected, an average of 75% of therapists had their prices listed online (this average varied from 40% to 100% depending on the city).
Many therapists provide sliding p scales, also known as price ranges, for their session's cost. We note the percentage of listed prices by the city in the table. About 86% of the counselors we took data from offered this information. In contrast, the remaining 14% either gave fixed costs, minimum, or maximum therapy prices.
The Twin Cities Metro Graph
We split the Twin Cities into subsections of Saint Paul, Minneapolis, North Metro, West Metro, East Metro, and South Metro.
A Graph of Minneapolis Therapy Prices
This graph gives data on the lowest, highest, and average costs of therapy prices in Minneapolis.
Therapy Prices in Saint Paul Graph
This graph gives data on the lowest, highest, and average costs of therapy prices in Saint Paul.
A Graph of The Prices of Therapy in the North Metro
We gathered data on all cities falling on the north side of the Twin Cities metro area including: Anoka, Brooklyn Center, Brooklyn Park, Coon Rapids, Elk River, New Hope, Osseo, Ostego, Robbinsdale, Rogers, Roseville, Shoreview, and St. Michael.
The West Metro Therapy Prices Graph
The cities we collected data from on the west side of the metro area include: Crystal, Eden Prairie, Golden Valley, Hopkins, Maple Grove, Minnetonka, Plymouth, St. Louis Park, and Wayzata.
A Graph of East Metro Therapy Prices
We conducted research on therapy prices on these cities on the east side of the Twin Cities metro area: Lake Elmo, Maplewood, White Bear Lake, and Woodbury.
The South Metro Therapy Prices Graph
We gathered information on therapy prices of these cities on the south side of the Twin Cities metro area: Apple Valley, Burnsville, Bloomington, Cottage Grove, Eagan, Edina, Inver Grove Heights, Lakeville, Mendota Heights, Prior Lake, Rosemount, Savage, and Shakopee.
Conclusion: What Does Counseling Therapy Cost in the Twin Cities?
Based on our data, you can see that there's a wide range of therapy prices. On average, the cost of counseling therapy in the Twin Cities Metro can range from $20 to $420 per session. For marriage counseling, the session is typically (but not always) the same cost as an individual session.
With such a broad range, how can you tell which price point is best for you? Therapy costs can vary based on your health insurance, the therapists' education level, and experience.
Factors Affecting the Price of Therapy
While many things affect therapy costs, one of the most significant factors is the type of psychotherapy license a counselor has.
Types of Mental Health Licenses in Minnesota
Depending on the level of education a therapist has earned, he may charge more or less for therapy sessions accordingly. All mental health licenses require a minimum of a master's degree in some form of counseling in the state of Minnesota. A few of the abbreviations for therapy licenses and degrees include:
- LPC - Licensed Professional Counselor - These clinicians have obtained their master’s degree in counseling. Their license allows them to do all forms of mental health counseling. It is a non-clinical license which means that LPC's do not diatnose and treat mental illness. Instead, they work more with people's relationships, their lives and their ways of thinking. They do not do so through the lens of clinical treatment but instead focus on working with clients to better their lives by working with their clients lives in a very direct way.
- LPCC - Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor - These professionals carry a master’s degree in counseling. They are able to diagnose and treat individuals with mental and emotional illness, trauma, disability, and social development disorders.
- LMFT - Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist - These mental health professionals are trained at a master’s level in therapy and family systems, and often specialize in areas like adoption, infertility, conflict, caregiving, anger issues, or financial distress.
- LSW - Licensed Social Worker - These professionals are non-clinical social workers who carry a bachelor’s degree or have gained enough hours of work experience in the field. LSW licensing may only provide clinical services under an LCSW’s supervision.
- LCSW - Licensed Clinical Social Workers - These counselors have their master’s degrees in social work and have often been trained in bureaucratic systems like the state’s Division of Child Care Services or Department of Mental Health. They may give diagnosis, treatment, and therapy directly to clients.
- LSC - Licensed School Counselor - According to the Minnesota Department of Education, to become a licensed school counselor in Minnesota, one must have a master's degree or the equivalent from a college or university that is regionally accredited and show verification of completing a Professional Educator Licensing and Standards Board preparation program leading to the licensure of school counselors. The other option is to provide evidence of having completed a preparation program in school counseling accredited by CACREP which requires 700 hours of experience. (School Counselor 2020)
- LP - Licensed Psychologist - The American Psychological Association informs us that a Ph.D. or PsyD education is required for this title. Hours of training and education range from 1,500 to 6000 depending on the state and one must pass the examination for professional practice in psychology (EPPP) and the jurisprudence exam if necessary.
- MD - Psychiatrist - For this position, a person must first become a licensed medical doctor plus take advanced training in psychiatry. First, graduates either receive a Doctor of Medicine (M.D.) or a Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (D.O.) and at this point students are officially a doctor, but it takes at least four years of residency to become a psychiatrist plus recertification every 10 years.
How Counseling Therapy Specialization Affects Price
Therapists that specialize in a specific field or age group can usually charge higher prices than those who do not. Specialists come in many different forms. Some therapists specialize in working with children, others with adults. Therapists can also specialize in a particular mental illness, like anxiety or depression. A few take extra time to train in marriage counseling and couples therapy.
Some specializations therapists may have include:
- Family therapy
- Marriage counseling
- Early childhood
- Art therapy
- Sex therapy
Depending on what your treatment needs are, specialization may be needed. For example, going to a general therapist for an eating disorder will not yield the same results and benefits as seeking treatment from a specialized care center like the Melrose Center or Emily Program.
Still, a general therapist may be able to resolve your issues if you suffer from something like mild anxiety. This type of therapist works well for anyone who only needs a supportive, listening ear. As a bonus, the price of therapy from a non-specialist has less of an impact on your wallet.
How Long Are Therapy Sessions and How Many Will I Need?
The average length of therapy sessions is approximately 50-55 minutes, although some therapists will offer 45-minute and 60-minute sessions. Insurance companies will often only cover session lengths up to 50 minutes.
Longer therapy sessions will drive up the cost of therapy. However, longer sessions can also reduce the number of sessions you need to reach recovery. Some therapists offer lower rates for sessions after you schedule a certain number of them. They might also offer discounted session rates when you purchase sessions in a group.
Since insurance companies generally only cover 45-minute or 50-minute sessions, most counselors schedule on the hour. Therapists that work with insurance companies might abruptly end your session, even if it would be productive to go slightly over time.
How Long Do Marriage Counseling Sessions Last?
For marriage counseling, a one hour time constraint can be very limiting. Couples therapy sessions can often take longer than individual sessions due to communication barriers like defensiveness or disagreements.
On top of that, psychotherapists who schedule on-the-hour must fit any time spent taking notes and restroom breaks into your hour session time. The average length of marriage counseling in the U.S. is 50 minutes. Still, it might be closer to 45 minutes if the counselor takes time for payment and scheduling the next appointment.
Very few marriage therapists provide a full hour of therapy. I schedule couples and individual clients every hour and fifteen minutes. It's beneficial to have extra time if we need it. That way, my patients always receive a full hour of therapy. Plus, if we do go a little over the hour, I won't charge extra.
How Much Relationship Counseling Will You Need?
As for the number of sessions you can expect to pay for, it depends on your mental health needs. Concerning marriage and couples counseling, the number of sessions that couples complete before stopping varies widely. It can be as little as one session or as many as twenty. Knowing an average number is not necessarily helpful. Progress depends on you, your spouse, and your mutual willingness to improve the relationship.
In-Person Counseling VS. Online
Location is often a significant component of cost. Therapy in large cities is usually expensive due to the higher cost of living. In general, you can find lower fees in rural and suburban areas.
While some people still prefer the in-person experience of therapy, more and more people opt for the online option. Given the health concerns of the COVID-19 pandemic, most counselors now offer virtual therapy sessions. This shift gives you more options when choosing a therapist.
In my practice, I meet with clients in my St. Cloud, MN office and with virtual clients all across Minnesota. The online sessions are excellent for clients who can't travel to me. Or for clients who prefer to meet with me from the comfort of their home.
Some people might worry that online therapy will diminish your ability to communicate effectively. In my experience, if your therapist has a good webcam, he should be able to pick up on your subtle body language adequately. I find this to be true for online marriage counseling as well. Your counselor must pick up on the non-verbal communication between you and your partner.
Companies Like BetterHelp Can Create Therapist Dependence
The benefits of online therapy are a bit murkier when it comes to popular online services like BetterHelp. These services may not be as effective as a therapist with an established professional practice.
Counselors employed by companies like BetterHelp are often in constant contact with clients via text message, email, and video calls. While this sounds beneficial, it can promote therapist dependence.
Therapist dependence is the result of developing an emotional addiction to therapy. It is more likely to happen when you don't have the time and space to independently incorporate what you've learned in therapy into your life.
Additionally, Big organizations like BetterHelp often pay meager wages. As a result, these companies have a pool of therapists who lack experience. Or they attract practitioners who don't want to invest the time and energy it takes to build a professional practice of their own.
Does Insurance Cover Your Therapy?
If a therapist accepts insurance, he will almost always charge a higher rate to maximize what the insurance company will cover. On the other hand, a therapist who does not take insurance will customarily charge less for appointments. He will do this to make himself more accessible and affordable to clients.
Does Insurance Cover Marriage Counseling in Minnesota?
Many couples wonder if their insurance covers marriage counseling. The answer is no. Insurance (including government coverage) only covers treatment for diagnosable mental illnesses. Since relationship trouble is not a mental illness, insurance cannot legally cover it.
Only diagnosable mental illnesses are treatable by therapy because mental illnesses are equivalent to physical diseases under the law. Mental illnesses are legally covered by insurance as long as that illness can be diagnosed and treated through psychotherapy, medications, or both.
Say your partner has a diagnosed mental illness. Would you be eligible for insurance to cover your couple's therapy? Still no. Insurance would only pay for your partner's treatment. You might come to your partner's session every once in a while. Yet, the focus of the therapy would be on treating your partner's diagnosed illness, not couples counseling.
Why I Don't Work with Insurance Companies
I chose to become a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) because diagnosing clients with mental illnesses did not appeal to me. Instead, I wanted to help them with their careers, relationships, and marriages. My primary psychotherapeutic work focuses on anger management, career coaching, ADHD, and strengthening the relationship between committed couples.
Another reason I chose to become an LPC was for the additional confidentiality it provides to my clients. Therapists that accept insurance must upload their client's confidential information and treatment notes into insurance company data banks. Since I don't work with insurance companies (most LPC's don't), I can keep my client's personal information private.
It Might Cost You More to Not Go to Therapy
After all this talk about the price of therapy, it's crucial to acknowledge the cost of forgoing treatment. If mental distress in your personal or romantic life affects your day-to-day wellbeing, avoiding treatment could come at a potentially high cost.
Nowhere is this more true than with Marriage Counseling therapy. Here are a few options of the many potential financial costs of forgoing marriage therapy:
- The cost of separate living space if your husband or wife moves out
- The average fees for Minnesota divorce lawyers range from $9,000 to $10,800
- The cost of selling a sizeable joint asset quickly, like a house or a boat, to settle a divorce
- The cost of daycare when one of the partners is no longer available to babysit the children
- The cost of paying state and federal taxes as a single person
How to Choose the Right Therapist in MN
In the end, you need to choose the therapist that aligns with you and your personal needs. There is no "one size fits all" when it comes to therapy. Various factors can affect treatment price, such as your location, what type of counseling you need, and the amount of experience you want your therapist to have.
Many people assume that the cost of therapy will be too high if they don't have insurance. However, our data shows a wide range of prices across the Twin Cities Metro Area. There are affordable options out there. Therapists that don't deal with insurance and offer sliding price scales are usually more affordable since the session rate will increase or decrease based on your income.
Mental health treatment is well worth the investment. Whether you live in the city or the suburbs, there are skilled counselors all across the Twin Cities Metro area who can meet with you in-person or online. But don't just Google "therapists near me" and take the first result. Choose a therapist you can trust. A solid foundation of trust can help you start making positive changes in your life and relationships.