Where to Find Affordable, Culturally Competent Therapy in Bay Area and Beyond

Affordable and culturally competent therapy can help individuals process trauma and find their purpose.  (Gender Spectrum Collection)

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As if being human in a world rife with systemic racism, patriarchy, homophobia, transphobia, ableism, environmental destruction and labor exploitation wasn’t already hard enough, the global pandemic and attendant economic crisis are making things that much more difficult for everyone, especially the most vulnerable among us.

Thankfully, as momentum swells to fight these -isms and create a more equitable society, there’s a growing awareness that taking care of mental health is crucial to our own wellbeing as well as society’s. An important part of that work is going to therapy, where we can address our personal traumas, find an empowered sense of purpose, talk out our day-to-day frustrations and make sense of our place in the world so that we can take meaningful action.

Below is a list of affordable and culturally competent therapy services and directories, as well as crisis hotlines, to help you on your way to healing.

Low Cost and Sliding-Scale Therapy

Liberation Institute
The volunteer-run San Francisco mental health center Liberation Institute offers therapy sessions on a sliding scale, and no one is turned away due to lack of funds. During the pandemic, the center has switched to online appointments, and prospective clients can get started with a consultation for a suggested donation of $20.

Sponsored

Open Path Psychotherapy Collective
The Open Path Psychotherapy Collective is a national network of therapists who provide services at reduced rates. Typically, they offer in-person services, but because of the pandemic, most of the therapists now offer online appointments. Users can search for therapists by location, and there are fields to narrow their search to therapists with expertise in different ethnic groups, age groups, subject areas and therapeutic styles. The sessions are sliding scale, typically $30–$60 a visit for individuals and $40–$80 for couples.

Grateful Heart Holistic Therapy Center
Grateful Heart has several locations throughout the Bay Area, but the center has moved to offering tele-health for all California residents because of COVID-19. In addition to therapy in English, it offers services in Spanish, Mandarin, Cantonese, Farsi, French and Hebrew. Its therapists offer sessions to individuals, couples and families for $50–$80, and provide additional flexibility for those facing a loss of income because of the pandemic. The center also promises to help with affordable therapy referrals if it cannot meet an individual’s budget.

BetterHelp
BetterHelp is an online therapist network that offers sessions with licensed specialists via text, phone call or video. The intake process starts with a detailed, confidential questionnaire that includes questions about how the pandemic is impacting one’s mental health, and there are options to receive services in a several languages, including Spanish and Urdu, as well as to request an LGBTQ+ therapist. Sessions start at $40 and BetterHelp offers financial aid.

California Institute of Integral Studies
The California Institute of Integral studies offers sliding-scale therapy that varies in price based on an individual’s income, life circumstances and expenses. Its counselors are therapists in training in the CIIS graduate program. The center’s approach integrates mind-body awareness, mindfulness and spirituality into the therapeutic process. Typically, CIIS offers sessions at its six centers in San Francisco, but is currently doing tele-health due to COVID-19.

Therapists of Color

National Queer and Trans Therapists of Color Network
Finding a Black therapist or a therapist of color is difficult. The same goes for one who’s competent in queer and trans issues. The National Queer and Trans Therapists of Color Network offers a directory of queer and trans therapists of color and a fund for prospective clients seeking financial assistance.

Therapy for Black Girls
Therapy for Black Girls offers a national directory of therapists who are Black women, and some of them offer sliding-scale services upon request. The site also hosts a podcast with Dr. Joy Harden Bradford, articles that use pop culture as a tool to discuss mental health topics and virtual events and community discussions.

Therapy for Black Men
Therapy for Black Men is a national network of culturally competent therapists and life coaches. The site also includes blog posts about issues such as stress management, healthy relationships, stigmas around mental health issues and more.

LGBTQ+ Therapists and Support Groups

Pacific Center for Human Growth
This little-known community center serving the LGBTQ+ community has been open in Berkeley since 1973. In addition to offering individual therapy, it has a wide variety of peer support groups (for a sliding scale donation of $5–$20) for a variety of intersecting identities, including those for transgender people, bi+ people, those living with disabilities and young people of color. Peer support groups and individual therapy are now happening on Zoom. Individual therapy is sliding scale and the Pacific Center also accepts Medi-Cal.

Queer LifeSpace
San Francisco’s Queer LifeSpace offers sliding-scale therapy and peer support groups for the queer and trans community. Therapy rates start at $30 for individuals, $15 for groups and $50 for couples. Support groups focus on substance recovery, gender identity and relationships.

Crisis Hotlines

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
800-273-8255

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration Hotline
800-662-4357

Safe & Sound’s Parental Stress TALK Line
415-441-5437

San Francisco Women Against Rape
415-647-7273

RAINN Sexual Assault Hotline
800-656-4673

Men's Crisis Line
415-924-1070

GLBT National Youth Talk Line
800-246-7743

Trans Lifeline
877-565-8860

CUAV (Community Unite Against Violence) LGBTQ+ Support
415-333-4357

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