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5 Creative and Free Alternatives to Therapy

By Katie Barbaro

Let’s face it: therapy is expensive and rarely covered by insurance.

You’ve probably asked yourself, “Do I want to pay out of pocket for an hour-long therapy session or feed myself for a month?” (Answer: FEED YOURSELF, per Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.) Ideally, therapy will someday be included in the price of rent, but in the meantime, you’re going to have to get creative about unloading your emotional baggage. That’s why I’ve put together a list of some fun, free ways you can tell people about your problems.

1. Open up to a Trader Joe’s cashier.

Picture courtesy TBS, also this website

All Trader Joe’s employees prioritize customer service over any other aspect of their jobs. If a customer has a question, a Trader Joe’s crew member must stop whatever they’re doing to answer it. So get in there and ask all the questions you want! “Is it normal to feel guilty after eating an entire bag of Reduced Guilt Pita Chips? What would happen if I bought the regular Guilt Pita Chips? Should I hate myself more after eating a jar of crunchy or smooth Speculoos Cookie Butter? Do you fear you might never be truly seen and heard by anyone in this world and that you’ll die alone someday? Oh and I brought my own bag, can I enter the bag raffle?”

2. Stop and talk to a Greenpeace worker on the sidewalk.

“But what about donating to me?” Picture via – this website

There’s no one in the world more starved for human interaction than a grassroots canvasser with a clipboard. This can be tricky of course, but the key is getting your pitch in before they can launch into theirs.

Them: “Do you have a minute to talk abou—”

You: “Yes! I’m so glad you asked. I just found out that my boyfriend is cheating on me and I really want to kick him out of the apartment we share, but he pays half my rent. What should I do?”

Them: “A small monthly donation would help thousands—”

You: “That would help so much! You would consider donating towards my monthly rent payment?!”

Them: “Oh, I didn’t mean…”

You: *start crying* “Well can you at least just talk this through with me?”

Cry together and then promise to look up their cause later online.

3. Go to a gym and pretend to be interested in personal training sessions.

He HAS to listen to you. Picture via – this website

It doesn’t matter if you belong to a gym or not— somewhere out there, someone is dying to sell you on personal training sessions by giving you an hour-long free trial. It’s a great way of getting your fill of encouragement, goal setting, and taking out your aggression with some free weights. Just get ready to receive a weekly email from Justin wondering why you’ve never come back to sign up for a membership at Crunch Gym.

4. Sit alone at Starbucks and try to get work done.

Picture Via – This website

This one is mostly for women: go to a coffee shop and do something that looks remotely intellectual (hold a pencil, read, write, etc.) while wearing ear buds. A balding middle-aged man will approach you and ask what you’re doing. He will listen to anything you have to say.

5. Stand on the edge of a building.

Last resort therapy. Picture via Pinterest

I haven’t tried this one, but I’m pretty sure they send someone with a megaphone to talk you off the ledge. There’s a good chance this person might have some kind of mental health training and they’ll be very nice to you.

Good luck!

If these things don’t work, check out this helpful article with links to affordable therapists in NYC.

And here’s a list of place that do sliding scale therapy in San Francisco. 

If you’re in another city and you need someone to talk to just google “sliding scale therapy” and the name of your city and something should come up.

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