Affordable counseling in Austin

Affordable Counseling in Austin

Finding affordable counseling in any city can be a challenge but we are hoping we can make this a bit easier for you with some well-researched options.

In Network and Out of Network: First off, if you have insurance, I strongly suggest you check your benefits to see what your in and out of network options are. In-network options are providers who have a contracted rate with insurance companies and most often this is lower than the cash pay rate. The issue with this tends to be that insurance companies squeeze therapists on the reimbursement rates and frequently therapists will leave their panel or greatly limit the number of insurance clients they take. This is a frequent point of frustration for people. Out of network allows you to see whomever you would like and you pay their full rate but then your insurance will kick in once you have met your deductible.

  • One quick note for those looking for affordable counseling… If you are looking for help. Depending on the nature of the issue, it may take some time to treat it. This may mean a few months of coming weekly or it may take longer. Be prepared for this as counseling isn’t something where a therapist comes in and waves a magic wand.
  • More experienced and specialized therapists tend to charge more for their expertise.
  • Double check with your EAP about support options if you have it as it may be free.

Affordable counseling in Austin: Options in this vary from $10 per session to $100 per session depending on where you go. This is largely determined by the number of years of experience the therapists have and whether they work at a non-profit that may also have grant funding.

Affordable Counseling Options:

Anxiety and Stress Clinic (UT) – The Institute for Mental Health Research’s Anxiety & Stress Clinic (the Clinic) is dedicated to providing high quality and affordable individual and group therapy for a variety of anxiety and stress-related disorders to the Austin community. Fees for individual therapy vary between $45 to $160 per 50-minute session and depend on income.

Austin Child Guidance Center – ACGC is a wonderful option for children and families. They take most insurance, offer a sliding scale, and have a private pay rate of $100. They offer assessments at a reduced fee too. (Central)

Austin DBT Associates – They work on a sliding scale starting at $60 for an individual session. DBT skills groups are $45 for both adults and adolescents. DBT is an effective treatment for helping people to manage the intensity of emotions and impulsive behavioral patterns that are causing fall out and disrupting the quality of their daily lives. (North and South Austin)

Austin Family Institute – AFI offers individual, couples, and families a low-cost sliding scale that is competitive with insurance copays. Like many places, the lower costs refers to working with the clinicians who have less experience. They offer ongoing training to their staff to help them grow. (Westlake)

Austin Travis County Integral Care – ATCIC is a free resource if you are admitted to their program. They have groups and resources to help those most in crisis. Integral Care improves the lives of adults and children living with mental illness, substance use disorder and intellectual and developmental disabilities in Travis County. (Central)

C2 Change – C2 Change is a non-profit mental health agency dedicated to providing quality mental health treatment to youth and families, regardless of income. We help families proactively address the challenges they face. Our techniques are evidenced-based and tailored to meet your unique needs. We offer our services on a sliding scale to keep treatment affordable. Sliding scale to $10. (Westlake)

Capital Area Counseling – Many therapists start at Capital Area as interns while in school and some continue after finishing school. Capital Area is a wonderful resource for those that want to get in for low-cost counseling. Their rates start at $10 per session and go up to $55 and is determined by your ability to pay. They give you a 10% discount if you prepay for at least 4 sessions. They do not accept insurance. (Central/East Austin)

Catholic Charities of Central Texas – Offers in person and virtual support (telehealth) for therapy. Fees go up to $85 and are on a sliding scale. Has licensed therapists and interns. (North)

Center for Relational Care (Chrisitan Counseling) offers low rates starting $30-130 depending on experience. Counselors are trained in Intimacy Therapy, EMDR, Somatic Experiencing, TBRI, TFCBT, Positive Discipline. (South, North, and Georgetown)

Center for Relationships. They have many folks who see our counselors for as low as $30 and up to $120. They are all Gottman level 1 trained and are open 7 days/week. Additionally, we offer trauma-informed yoga and workshops for couples. (NW Austin)

Flatwater Foundation – Flatwater provides free counseling for those affected by cancer if the immediate issue is cancer support. Counseling is provided to those affected and their loved ones. You must be referred by Flatwater Foundation, Texas Oncology, or Breast Cancer Resource Center.

GT Therapy – An interdisciplinary team of therapists (social work, LPC, and LMFT) who offer individual, couples, family and group therapy across the lifespan. While each therapist has his or her unique expertise, we are all systemic and Integrative and have a special focus on teens, college students, parents, and families. Post-graduate therapists offer a sliding scale from $50-125. (Central/University)

Health Alliance for Austin Musicians – HAAM provides services for musicians including routine dental work, doctor visits and prescriptions, psychiatric counseling sessions, eye exams, out-patient procedures, specialist referrals, hearing screenings and more.

Jewish Family Services – You don’t have to be Jewish to go here and they provide a sliding scale on their counseling that goes down to around $10 and up. They can bill insurance. (NW Austin)

Just Mind – A private practice with 25 therapists who work on a sliding scale but the low end tends to be about $80-$100 and goes up to $130 for the most seasoned therapists. They work with children (play therapy), teens, adults, couples (Gottman, PACT and EFT trained), and offer EMDR and Somatic Experiencing for those who have been through trauma. They have therapists who take select insurance. They offer ongoing training to their staff to help them grow and the majority of their staff has over 15 years of experience. (Central/NW)

Lifeworks – An agency that offers low to no cost counseling for children, teens, and adults. (Medicaid & South, East, and North Austin)

New Life – An agency that offers spiritual (Christian) counseling in Austin. They have two locations and their bottom rate is $80 in Austin or $65 in Round Rock and goes up to $145 per session. They work with children, teens, adults, families and offer EMDR for faster work with trauma. (Round Rock and South Austin)

People’s Community Clinic – The People’s Community Clinic is a non-profit, primary health care facility whose purpose is to provide high quality medical, counseling and health education to medically underserved and uninsured Central Texans. (Central and NE Austin)

Plan Central TexasFree to low-cost counseling and support for those in need. Groups also available. (Central)

Plumeria Counseling Center – Plumeria is committed to offering exceptional counseling services at affordable rates. Counseling is a valuable and powerful method for cultivating change in oneself and one’s life and our rates reflect the experience of the therapist.$40 (graduate students), $50+ (1st year interns), $75+ (senior interns), $100+. (South Austin)

Open Path Collective – Requires all therapists to commit to a fee of $30-$50. (All over)

Relationship Counseling Center of Austin – Licensed therapists and interns working on a sliding scale which typically runs about $70 for individuals, couples, families. (Central/NW)

SAFE – SAFE, formerly know as Safeplace, provides free counseling. The counseling program is designed to meet survivors wherever they are in the process of healing and serves all survivors of interpersonal violence, including domestic violence, sexual assault, sexual abuse, and human trafficking. By informing survivors about the dynamics of interpersonal violence and assisting them in the development of goals specific to their situation survivors are supported as they heal from trauma and reclaim their lives. Counselors work with people with disabilities, Spanish speakers and members of the Deaf community. (East Austin)

Samaritan Counseling Center – They have a spiritual focus on their work. Samaritan works with veterans, individuals, couples, and families. They offer sliding fee scale counseling and acupuncture with special programs for low-income and the under-insured, as well as our Hope for Heroes program for military families. Their highest fee is $125 and they have grants to assist folks under 200% of the Federal Poverty Level as well programs to offset the cost counseling for families in our Hope for Heroes program. (multiple locations NW and one in San Marcos)

Sims Foundation – Mental health at low to no cost for musicians. (all over)

Texas Veterans Commission – Options for veterans through the VA. They offer counseling services to veterans and they also have a link to agencies that provide direct services to veterans. (all over)

Therapy Austin – Locations in central and north Austin. Interns serve counseling and thus can’t take insurance. Rates are $75-$125. (Central and North)

Waterloo Counseling – Provides affordable, culturally sensitive mental health services to all people, regardless of gender (LGBTQ), sexual identity and expression or HIV status. (Central)

YWCA – The YWCA offers counseling for individuals, couples, and families. Their standard fees range from $35 to $100 per hour, based on a sliding scale that includes family income and household dependents. For clients who qualify, our subsidized fees range from $10 to $75 per hour, based on a sliding scale that requires documentation of family income, household dependents, residence, and identity. For women veterans, people receiving compensation from Crime Victim’s Services, and selected daycare centers staff and parents, all counseling services are FREE. (Central)

Other Smaller Practice Options and Informational offerings:

Central Austin Psychotherapy – Central Austin Psychotherapy currently has openings and works on a sliding scale fee. We are located on West Koenig Lane and offer services to children, teens, families, couples, and adults. We work with relationship issues, developmental trauma, anxiety, depression, family challenges/communication, adoption-related issues with all members of the triad, and child/adult attachment trauma. Sliding scale dips as low as $50 per hour.

Dr. Jo Eckler – Jo offers energy work, individual therapy, and death & morning doula work and goes down to $60. (South Austin)

Discovery Counseling – Discovery is run Sara Weber and she has a big background in eating disorders and utilizing mindfulness in therapy. Her rates at $35-$60 per session. (Central)

Luminary Counseling – A private practice with a counseling clinic with a flat rate of $50 for psychotherapy for individuals, couples, and families who cannot afford higher rates, need long-term counseling and immediate availability. (NE Austin)

NAMI – NAMI offers classes and education on mental illness as well as support groups that are run by volunteers. (Central)

Pregnancy Postpartum Health Alliance – PPHA has a therapy voucher program that provides low-income women who are experiencing postpartum depression, anxiety and/or OCD with up to 8 sessions of discounted therapy sessions.

Resparc – Offers counseling for Individuals, Couples, Marriage and Sex Therapy with a focus on building intimacy in sex-positive ways. (Westlake)

Counseling South Austin – Counseling on a sliding scale in South Austin with licensed therapists and interns. Fees range from $60-$100 depending on income (South Austin)

Sol Community Counseling – They provide affordable, holistic counseling services through LMSWs who are supervised here. Our standard rate is $80 and we slide down as low as $50. (North Austin/Pflugerville)

The Practice ATX – The practice is a group practice in Austin that offers low-cost counseling services provided by interns (rates were not disclosed). (Westlake)

General Healthcare Assistance:

El Bueno Samaritan – El Buen provides comprehensive, integrated health and family services in a culturally appropriate environment. They offer a health home for individuals and families living in Travis County who are uninsured. Patients who qualify or are enrolled in the Medical Access Program (MAP) are welcome.

Medical Access Program – (MAP) A local program provided by Central Health that covers primary care, prescriptions, specialty care, and hospital care.

Med Savers – (Pharmacy) A family owned and operated community pharmacy with a mission of helping people get the medication they need at prices they can afford. Based on a simple principle, “we don’t deal with insurance companies,” we’re able to offer the same generic prescriptions you get from your regular pharmacy for a fraction of the cost.

Project Access Austin– A system of medical care for low-income, uninsured Travis County residents.

Volunteer Healthcare Clinic – The Volunteer Healthcare Clinic (VHC) provides basic, non-emergency medical care and prevention education for low-income and uninsured residents of Travis County. On the 3rd Wednesday of the month, a Specialty Clinic is conducted for dermatology, psychiatry and nutrition counseling by appointment or on a walk-in basis. The Clinic opens its doors at 5pm and all patients need to be here by 6pm to receive a ticket for that evening’s clinic.





How Sleep Health Ties Into Mental Health

How Sleep Health Ties Into Mental Health

It’s amazing what a good night’s sleep can do for your mental health. While sleeping can’t wash away every problem or fear, it can support you with the energy you need to face every day at your best.

Getting good sleep is essential to mental health, as poor sleep can worsen the effects of mental health conditions including anxiety, depression, and ADHD. Conversely, trauma and stress can affect sleep as well, so good sleep hygiene is key for maintaining restful nights and good mental health.

What Sleep Deprivation Does to Mental Health

When you’re sleep deprived, your mental health suffers. Insomnia feeds anxiety, and not getting enough sleep can negatively affect your mood, cognitive functioning, and rational thinking.

The mental health effects of sleep deprivation include:

  • Irritability

  • Cognitive impairment

  • Memory lapses or loss

  • Impaired moral judgement

  • Severe yawning

  • Hallucinations

  • Symptoms similar to ADHD

When you get enough sleep at night, you are in a better position to face the challenges of the day with a more stabilized mood. Your cognitive function is better, particularly in learning, memory, and rational thinking that can help you work through fears and concerns.

How Trauma and Stress Affect Sleep

Trauma can affect sleep, whether it’s physical, psychological, or both. Physical pain, anxiety, and depression following a traumatic event put those with PTSD at particular risk of sleep difficulties. People who have experienced trauma may suffer from sleep disorders and syndromes including:

  • Nightmares

  • Night terrors

  • Insomnia

  • Delayed sleep-phase syndrome

  • Narcolepsy

  • Restless legs syndrome and/or periodic limb movement disorder

  • Teeth grinding

  • Sleep apnea

  • Sleep walking

Stress and anxiety, which can occur following trauma or in everyday life, can negatively influence sleep. When you feel stressed, adrenaline and cortisol are released, causing you to feel more alert. At the same time, production of serotonin, which makes you feel tired, is decreased.

Practicing Good Sleep Hygiene for Mental Health

Treatment may be necessary for serious sleep disorders or trauma-related sleep problems. Psychotherapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, meditation, light therapy, and sleep restriction are treatment options.

However, you may find that improving your sleep hygiene can help you to get a better night’s sleep. And with a better night’s sleep, you can be prepared for the day with a better mood and cognitive function that can support mental health.

Good sleep hygiene for mental health includes:

  • A regular sleep schedule. Going to bed and waking up around the same time each night and morning creates a predictable schedule your body can rely on. Consistency is key and can train your brain to become tired around the same time each night.

  • A bedtime routine. Each night before bed, go through the same few steps. It can be as simple as plugging in your phone, brushing your teeth, and reading a chapter of a book before you turn the lights off. Like your sleep schedule, consistency is key with a bedtime routine and can signal to your brain that it’s bedtime.

  • Avoid stimulating activities in the hours before bed. Avoid exercise, caffeine, and screen time just before bed. It’s also a good idea to avoid eating a large meal, as this can interfere with healthy sleep.

  • Limit naps. Naps can be a good supplement to nighttime sleep, especially if you’re sleep deprived. But be careful not to nap in the hours just before bed, and if you do take a nap, limit it to less than 30 minutes, ideally around 20.

  • Create a comfortable sleep environment. Make your bedroom cool, dark, quiet, and comfortable with appropriate bedding. Consider blackout curtains and a white noise machine to block out distractions and make it easier to sleep at night.

Sara Westgreen is a researcher for the sleep science hub Tuck. She sleeps on a king size bed in Texas, where she defends her territory against cats all night. A mother of three, she enjoys beer, board games, and getting as much sleep as she can get her hands on.

Photo by Vladislav Muslakov on Unsplash

The Power of Yes

The Power of Yes

By Loren Lomme, LPC, RPT

One of the most difficult things that comes up with parenting elementary aged kids is managing their need and want of control. This may be control related to rules, decisions, playing, or even the tasks of daily living. It comes up frequently with this age group as kids start to learn about and experiment with power, relationships, consequences, responsibility, and independence. Parents’ experiences of these developmental tasks are often that their kids are ignoring, defying, or arguing with them about every little thing. And it’s partially true….our kids are testing the rules and boundaries and trying to figure out how to assert their desire for independence. The other part and this is the part that’s harder to manage, is when our kids’ words and behaviors trigger us instead of reminding us that they are trying to figure things out and need our help to find a sense of balance.

A few weeks ago, I had just told my 5-year-old to brush his teeth for probably the 10th time, and this was after I had also told him at least a dozen other things that I needed him to do to get ready for bed. Things were starting to get ugly. It’s the school year and you know how we’re all just trying to get through the routine, get our kids to bed, get our few minutes of “me” time, and get to sleep ourselves; and I forgot what his experience of all this must be like until I saw the frustration and sadness on his face. I asked him to tell me about how he was feeling, and he said, “I feel like you’re always bossing me around.” At that moment I realized that the daily grind had taken over. I had forgotten that an important part of my parenting is utilizing fun and figuring out how to share power in an appropriate way so that my son doesn’t have this feeling of no control. Even more important, I want him to feel like we are a team and that I can support him in his quest for getting his wants and needs validated and met. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not giving up my authority as the parent, and I obviously still need him to get the things done that are on my list, but I had put my tools of play and cooperation away for the night and it wasn’t working. So what’s to be done about sharing power with kids? I know it seems like a daunting task, and it definitely flies in the face of what generations before us have done, but it’s not as hard as it seems. So here are a couple of tools to get you started.

Embrace the power of YES. You’ve probably heard of positive psychology, and this is straight from the work of Barbara Fredrickson, one of the founders, as well as the work of several other brain researchers. I won’t get too science-y on you, but in summary, the brain and nervous system respond differently to the words yes and no, as well as to the accompanying body language of the speaker of those words. In short, hearing no causes your brain to release stress producing neurochemicals while hearing yes doesn’t. The problem though is that because positive words like yes do not threaten and engage our survival instinct, our brain doesn’t respond to them nearly as intensely as it responds to words like no. So the researchers found that to activate the motivational centers of our brain, we need 5 positives to every negative. Think of it as a bank account, 1 withdrawal is a much bigger deal when your balance is low, but if you’ve already made 5 deposits, you can handle the withdrawal much better. So the next time you need your kids to get going with a task and they’re giving you pushback, try engaging them with positive words and body language:

“I’ll give you a piggyback ride to the bathroom so you can brush your teeth now,” or when they need more control over their timeline and ask if they can finish 1 or 2 or 3 tasks before they brush their teeth, you might say, “Yes, I’ll set a timer, and when it goes off, it will be time to stop and brush teeth. Do you need 1 minute or 2 minutes?” Now you’ve made a deposit in their account and engaged their brain in a positive way, you’ve set an expectation of what will happen next, and you’ve shared control by giving them a choice. I try to be a “yes mom” as often as I can so that when I need to say no, my child can hear it and accept it more easily. When I can’t say yes, if it’s possible, I try to offer a choice or a way to feel empowered in the situation, which leads me to the next strategy.

Involve your kids in decision making when you can. I know that sometimes you just need your kids to do what you need them to do, but quite often, there is some opportunity for collaboration. Depending on the age of your child, this will look and sound different. With younger kids, a choice is often the best way to help them feel a sense of control: “We need to get ready for bed. Do you choose to brush teeth first or pick out your pj’s first?” As kids get older, there are many more opportunities for sharing power and decision making. Sticking with the bedtime example, maybe you discuss with your child what tasks need to be completed before bedtime and ask for their ideas about how to best make that happen. Or maybe you set up a weekly bedtime challenge, and for every challenge they beat, they earn something fun like a trip to get frozen yogurt with you over the weekend. There are so many ways to communicate to your child that they are important, that you value their ideas, and that you are willing to work with them to help everyone get what they want while feeling like they have a say in what’s happening. After all, compromise and finding ways to get your needs met appropriately are lifelong skills. For those times when you’ve told your kid to do something 10 times and things are getting ugly, it’s not too late to push the pause button and verbalize what you’re noticing. Discuss your observations, ask your child about their experience of the situation, and have a redo. In the end, I think you’ll find that empowered kids are cooperative kids, and that’s a win-win for everyone!

If you like this, read other posts such as “How to Boost Self Esteem in Kids“, “Parents Who Parent Differently“, “5 Things to Discuss With Kids From Inside Out“,”Stop Back To School Stress Before It Starts“, and finally, “Five Holiday Stress Busters.” Also, if you would like to make an appointment for a consult, contact us and see how we can help.

How To Naturally Treat ADHD In Children and Adults

How To Naturally Treat ADHD In Children and Adults

Looking back on my teen years, I can remember the struggles my parents faced with a child with ADHD. What follows are some simple tips on how to naturally treat ADHD in children and adults.

Everyday mindfulness:

I would also suggest working on mindfulness and trying it on small things: eating, washing dishes, textures, folding clothes, and some short format meditations at home.

Apps that help mindfulness: Calm, Headspace, Insight Timer


Sleep is one of the most common battles I see for teenagers. A sleep-deprived brain with or without ADHD is more likely to make mistakes on a test or on anything that checks functioning.

Research testing on people who slept less than six hours a night for a week revealed substantial changes in the activity of genes that govern the immune system, metabolism, sleep and wake cycles, and the body’s response to stress, suggesting that poor sleep could have a broad impact on long-term wellbeing.

The changes, which apparently affected more than 700 genes, may help to shed light on the biological mechanisms that raise the risk of a host of ailments, including heart disease, diabetes, obesity, stress, and depression, in people who get too little sleep.

Kids need to practice good sleep hygiene. This can be things like getting them an alarm clock and not having their cell phone charge next to their bed. Taking a hot shower 90 minutes before bed. Drinking milk. Reading a book. Going to bed or getting in bed at the same time every night.


Food is the fuel for our bodies and mind. Dietitians and psychiatrists suggest a well-balanced diet, including vegetables, complex carbohydrates, fruits, and plenty of protein. Foods rich in protein — lean beef, pork, poultry, fish, eggs, beans, nuts, soy, and low-fat dairy products — can have beneficial effects on ADHD symptoms. Protein-rich foods are used by the body to make neurotransmitters, the chemicals released by brain cells to communicate with each other. Protein can prevent surges in blood sugar, which increase hyperactivity. Make sure they have snacks they can easily bring with them during the day like Larabars.

Exercise is essential for kids and adults with ADHD:

When you exercise, your brain releases chemicals called neurotransmitters, including dopamine, which helps with attention and clear thinking. People with ADHD often have less dopamine than usual in their brain.

Fitness can have the following benefits for adults with ADHD:

  • Ease stress and anxiety.
  • Improve impulse control and reduce compulsive behavior.
  • Enhance working memory.
  • Improve executive function. That’s the set of skills needed to plan, organize, and remember details.
  • Increase levels of brain-derived neurotrophic factor. That’s a protein involved in learning and memory. It’s in short supply in people with ADHD.
  • Stay at a healthy weight. That’s important because evidence suggests that people with ADHD are more likely to become obese.
  • Reduce your risk of heart disease, diabetes, and certain types of cancer.
  • Keep your blood pressure and cholesterol levels in a normal range.
  • Strengthen your bones.
  • Improve your mood and self-esteem.

How do people with ADHD learn:

  • Do they learn at home or in groups?
  • Does using the Pomodoro technique work (breaking things into small time slices)?
  • Music without words (Calm or Headspace)
  • In their bedroom, in the kitchen, or at a coffee shop?
  • Do frequent breaks help?
  • Don’t go EAST (everything at the same time) start with a small chunk.
  • 45 minutes a day for 4 days or cramming (hint, cramming doesn’t work) and sleep helps you replay the material in your mind. (tip: using essential oils in study space and by bed)
  • Pay attention to what distracts and see if they are right.
  • Take 10-15 minutes before bed to review what you learned or review notes daily.
  • Use breaks like walking the dog or shooting hoops.
  • A power nap of 20 minutes but no more than 30 or interferes with sleep.
  • Frequent breaks help.
  • Sipping a sugary drink increases glucose and focus.

If you like this article and would like additional resources on ADHD and time management, simple ADHD treatment strategies, or if you want to learn more about ADHD in general, check out the other resources on our website.