Free Therapy During the COVID-19 Emergency

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Thanks to COVID-19, people with insurance in New York State do not have to pay copays, co-insurance, or deductibles for telehealth sessions for as long as the state of emergency lasts.

That’s one thing to be grateful for.

This is a state mandate. Insurance companies haven’t advertised it, and I haven’t seen it in the news. So, spread the word. Even among us shrinks, there’s been a lot of confusion in the past two weeks. Many of us have been collecting these copays, co-insurance payments, and deductibles because we didn’t know, couldn’t believe it, or were puzzled by the impenetrable prose of bureaucratic pronouncements. But I have it from the horse’s mouth. Free therapy. Read it yourself.

The catch is that it must be a video or phone session with an in-network provider. If you insist on meeting your therapist in person, or if she is still expecting clients to do so, then you still must pay those fees. I guess they’re trying to encourage people to stay home so they don’t spread the virus. That, and to get the help they need before they go stir-crazy in their homes, ready to kill someone over a roll of toilet paper.

You’re out of luck if you have insurance that originates outside New York State because your company’s headquarters is in Chicago, Kansas City, or some other place, unless that state has ordered it, too.

Video counseling is preferred by therapists over the phone variety. But you need a good cellular signal or Wi-Fi connection to see a therapist by video, as well as a private place to talk. That can be hard when you’re all cooped up with other people. I’ve had clients talk to me in their cars or from the bathroom. You can read more about video counseling here.

If you have been particularly anxious these days, or depressed, or if the bonds between you and your loved ones are beginning to fray, don’t let this opportunity pass you by. This is also a perfect time to change bad habits. We therapists can’t do much to change the state of the world, but we can help you with your response to it.

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