How To Get Help When You Can’t Afford Therapy

I feel as if I’m getting all of the benefits of your counseling without giving you anything in return.” Quote from a reader of Beyond Messy Relationships.
We all need help from time to time. And we all know that reading books are never a substitute for professional counseling. Yet, you can learn how to get help when you can’t afford therapy.
Not many therapists are so gracious to write their personal stories along with taking the mystery out of counseling. I’ve felt like a lone ranger until I read Lori Gottleib’s book, Maybe You Should Talk To Someone. Lori’s writing style is both engaging and humorous. She opens up her vulnerable self as a psychotherapist and pulls us into the stories of three clients… some of which you won’t like at first. Yet, throughout their journeys, you identify with and learn to love them.
Lori helps us honor our human struggles. Yet she gives us so much more. Her book appeals to those of us in this mental health profession. But in reality, we can all benefit from her wisdom, transparency, and expertise.

Get help by reading, or listening to books 

If you don’t care to sit with your nose in a book this summer, then you can listen. It’s so easy to do menial tasks or take a walk in the neighborhood with earbuds and a smart phone in your pocket.
You can sign up for an audible account, that comes with a [first] free month trial. Or, use your local library for downloadable audible or digital books. Of course, you can check out print books!
Reading or listening to books can be the first step to getting help.
But, there’s more.

Get help by participating in community groups 

You can start with a google search to find the right support you need. Therapy or community groups can get us out of our isolation and rigid thinking. As Lori Gottlieb has done for us in her book, groups normalize our human struggles.
For those of us who are faith-based, we value the Scripture passage in the gospel of Matthew.
For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them.” (Matthew 18:20)
Here’s some groups I recommend to my clients.

Get help by attending events

Look for community resources for events that enhance your well-being. Our community here in Chattanooga hosted the Embracing Hope event. In honor of mental health awareness month, hundreds came to hear Bluegrass music. They also spoke with vendors who provide support. Local counselors, community mental health centers, and organizations gathered together.
Now I’m in the planning stages of “The Beyond Messy Experience” event. This free event will take place on September 10th here in Chattanooga. It will also be live streamed for those who cannot attend in person. 
The main goal is to provide support. And to honor every human being’s dignity, value, and worth. Whether you’re in a partnered relationship or not, you’ll want to save the date for this event.
You may or may not get the benefits of counseling from reading Beyond Messy Relationships, or Maybe You Should Talk To Someone. But you do have what it takes. Access the resources. You know how to get help when you can’t afford therapy.

Here’s one of two steps you can take now:

  1. Sign up to get the first three chapters (for free) of Beyond Messy Relationships: Divine Invitations To Your Authentic Self.
  2. Sign up for “The Beyond Messy Experience” and mark your calendar for September 10th.
Professional Counseling

What Kind Of Professional Counseling Do I need?


What kind of professional counseling do I need? If I wrote a letter to my younger self, I would say, Don’t hesitate.

Don’t just lolly-gag & wait for change. Make that counseling appointment now. Click To Tweet

We can be so confused about our needs. And even more confused about what kind of professional counseling we need. Now that I’ve been practicing for over a decade, I’m convinced the public needs clarity about who’s who when it comes to professional counseling.

Why it’s important to know about professional counseling

The professional mental health and wellness field can be so mysterious. What do all those initials behind a person’s name mean anyway?

We’ll cover the differences between those in unlicensed professions in another post: life coaching, business coaching, and spiritual direction. For now, let’s address those who are licensed counselors.

Why look for those who are licensed in their field?

It assures us of their training, education, expertise, continuing education, and accountability.

Just as we don’t trust an unlicensed surgeon to do a kidney transplant, we shouldn’t trust an unlicensed counselor with the tender organs of our souls.

Now that may be a dramatic example for some. But would you even want to consider a tooth extraction by an unlicensed dentist?

On the other hand, you may only need your son-in-law to change a light fixture rather than hiring a certified electrician. In that case, we only need a counseling intern, life coach, spiritual director, or a wise friend.

Our relationship and mental health needs can be mysterious. We don’t know whether our issues are like an old light fixture or a decayed tooth. A first appointment with a licensed professional counselor can help you sort that out. Here’s what you need to know.

Don’t assume medication is the only treatment

It’s the high-dollar TV commercials who promote antidepressants and anti-anxiety medication. We automatically go to our primary care physicians or OB/GYN’s even before considering professional counseling.

Most are unaware that talk therapy from a licensed counselor is a better first line of treatment before considering medication. Click To Tweet

When medication is necessary, it’s always wise to combine it with counseling.

Psychotropic medication is just a small portion of treatment. A combination of medication and talk therapy is many times more effective for wellness than medication alone.

Who’s who when it comes to professional counseling? 

Here’s an overview of non-medical professional counselors. Psychiatrists are not on the list because they are medical doctors trained to prescribe psychotropic medications. They rely on non-medically trained professional counselors to help their patients. A few may also counsel their patients.

Here’s another confusing fact. Each state in the United States has their own laws around licensure. Each profession has their own code of ethics. Titles may vary slightly from state to state. For the sake of simplicity, this list pertains to Tennessee.

A basic understanding of professional counseling differences

This is not a comprehensive list. It’s a simple overview of those trained to diagnose and treat mental illness through non-medical therapies. All are required to continue their education. Many have additional certifications in specialized therapies such as Imago therapy, Gottman, EMDR, or Emotion Focused Therapy.

You’ll find the following professions through private practices, agencies, or counseling centers. All of these professions are Master’s degrees or higher. They are trained to diagnose and treat mental, emotional, and behavioral disorders through non-medical treatments.

Licensed Professional Counselor with Mental Health Service Provider Status (LPC-MHSP)

Many LPC-MHSP’s focus on individual therapy. Many have additional training in relationship counseling or group therapy.

Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT)

LMFT’s have a family systems point of view.

Licensed Clinical Social Worker. (LCSW) 

LCSW’s have a broader social and systems perspective.

Licensed Pastoral Counselor

Pastoral counselors generally are ministers, rabbis or, priests with a spiritual focus.

Licensed Clinical Psychologists – (Psy.D) 

Licensed clinical psychologists are the only ones on the list who are rightly called Doctor. They’re also trained trained to administer psychological testing for Attention Deficit Disorder and other diagnosis.

With this clarity, please tell yourself, Don’t just lolly-gag and wait for change. Make that counseling appointment now.  

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