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What is Sliding Scale Therapy? [And How It Works in 2023]

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What is Sliding Scale Therapy? [And How It Works in 2023]

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Written by 
Nicole Laoutaris
Last updated: 
November 22, 2023
Professionally Verified by 

Welcome to our comprehensive guide on sliding scale therapy and alternative options for affordable mental health support.

In today's world, where access to quality therapy is essential but financial constraints can pose significant barriers, sliding scale therapy emerges as a promising solution.

But what exactly is sliding scale therapy?

In short, sliding scale therapy involves therapists offering a discounted rate for their sessions, often as low as half of their regular hourly charge. This reduced fee is determined based on your income, ensuring that individuals without insurance can still access treatment and engage in therapy.

So, let's embark on this journey to uncover valuable resources and empower you to find the support you deserve.

What Exactly is Sliding Scale Therapy?

Many counsellors offer something called a “sliding scale” for clients who are unable to afford their full fee. 

Most therapists offer discounted rates this way because they want therapy to be accessible to those who need it. It’s up to the therapist if they want to offer and advertise a sliding scale option. Often, they’ll decide on a set number of discounted sessions within their full calendar. Accessing a discounted rate will depend on their availability. .

First Session lists clearly if a therapist offers sliding scale therapy. Always feel free to ask if there is availability—they’ll understand your request and the worst thing they’ll say is no.

If you need mental health support but face greater financial barriers, walk-in therapy and low-cost clinics offer therapy sessions by accredited and qualified therapists at a lower cost.

You can use tools like and to find counselling services and customize your search to find free and publicly funded options. 

Finally, try checking in with the nearest university that offers a counselling education program. Often these programs provide free counselling as a way to help graduate students log hours of clinical experience.

About the author
Nicole Laoutaris

Nicole Laoutaris is a freelance writer and adult learning professional based in the Greater Toronto Area. She specializes in educational content for brands and companies in industries such as mental health, pet health, lifestyle and wellness, cannabis, and personal finance. Nicole holds a double undergraduate degree in Communications and Film studies from Wilfrid Laurier University, and post-graduate certificate in Corporate Communications from Seneca College. She currently lives in Hamilton Ontario with her spouse and her cat.

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