By Mumtaz Saley
Though you may have a friend of a friend who is a therapist and is willing to hear you out over WhatsApp in an emergency, sometimes that doesn’t really work well when you need a proper appointment with a professional.
Now, unless you’re on a comprehensive medical aid plan, your medical aid won’t cover more than a few sessions and that’s often not enough. Generally, an hour-long session of talk therapy costs between R950 to R1800, meaning that a minimum of R4000 a month would need to be set aside for therapy sessions if you’re looking at weekly sessions. This doesn’t include the cost of medication or the price of fuel to actually get to sessions.
It is almost unanimously agreed by researchers that the demands for therapy are increasing, in part due to the high-stress lifestyle the average person is now living. I decided to hunt down as many options as I could in the Johannesburg area which would allow a normal person to gain access to therapy without having to sell their organs in the process. Here are my findings:
Find a Therapist in your Area
This is the first, and least labour-intensive option. If you’re wanting to start seeing a therapist or if you’re already seeing one and your medical aid has run out, request their cash rates and check if they’re willing to negotiate on their rates based on income and means. Alternatively, take advantage of the psychiatry department at the closest government hospital to you and allow them to assign you a therapist. If you’ve built up a relationship with the therapist you’ve been seeing privately, ask if they are currently giving their services to state hospitals. Many therapists are on call at state hospitals at various times in the month, so ask your therapist for their schedule and make your appointments at the hospital itself.
If you’re unable to afford cash rates for a private therapist or if you’ve found no joy at a government hospital, consider the following organisations which offer reduced fee sessions by trained counsellors.
• Life Line South Africa
• The Teddy Bear Clinic
Some of your sessions won’t be one on one due to the large demand, but the help offered is consistent and you will be given help by the counsellors on board, though progress may be slower than what you’d find with private one on one sessions.
If the help that you need is for your child, first consider approaching their school as most schools do have volunteer child psychologists who offer their services once or twice a week if your child’s school hasn’t employed a counsellor for the students. There is usually no cost involved for counselling a child at school and these, again, are the same trained counsellors you’d find If your child’s school does not have a therapist working with them, approach places like the Islamic Care Line and The Teddy Bear clinic to take advantage of their affordable rates.
Universities and Student Therapists
Trainee and student therapists need to get their experience somewhere and so universities generally offer sessions at minimal or no charge. Students will conduct sessions under trained supervision, so there is no risk on your part of being given the wrong treatment by an inexperienced therapist. Should the student make a mistake, the individual supervising them will correct them. This is a way for you to get the help you need, while they get the experience they need.
For more information about student therapists, visit the University of Johannesburg’s website here: www.UJ.ac.za/psycad
As you can see, there are many options available, and you don’t need to let the lack of funds stop you from looking after your mental health.