The Open Path Psychotherapy Collective is a web-based community and non-profit organization founded by licensed professional counselor, Paul Fugelsang.
His goal was to help make high quality, affordable psychotherapy more accessible to the public. Those seeking therapy through Open Path pay a one-time membership fee of $49 and are able to search the directory for a local therapist listed on the site.
According to Fugelsang, there are 1,500 participants in 42 states each month and a total of 2,000 clients connecting.
All therapists are required to complete an application that is thoroughly screened by other licensed professionals. If approved after the screening, these therapists agree to charge only $30 – $50 per session.
Fugelsang created this non-profit after seeing a “dire need for more connectivity in my field and a gaping hole where access to affordable psychotherapy should have been.”
The Affordable Care Act has helped create more access for consumers. However, there is still a pressing need for alternatives to meet the widespread request for these services in our communities.
Several therapists have reported enjoying their work through this service.
Marc McKinnis is a licensed professional counselor practicing in Asheville, North Carolina and feels “happy to be joining a network of therapists nationwide trying to make quality mental health services more accessible to those with lower financial means.”
He noted, “Open Path is a model example of a grassroots movement to make quality mental health care more accessible to the masses. I do believe that in a short amount of time, Open Path has already begun to shift the mental health accessibility paradigm in this country.”
McKinnis has not experienced any difficulties while participating in Open Path and praises Paul Fugelsand and his team for their efforts to “transform the mental health landscape of our country.”
Dana Edgerton, an Austin, Texas based licensed professional counselor intern noted, “Professionally, I believe Open Path serves as a referral source, offers networking and marketing opportunities and helps me be competitive with in-network therapists.”
She added that she can use her membership as part of her sliding fee scale. Edgerton also likes being able to offer an alternative for clients who do not wish to use insurance or do not have it.
Words of Advice
John Davis, a licensed mental health counselor in Delray Beach, Florida, states, “It has been satisfying to use otherwise vacant hours for the benefit of those lesser advantaged than myself. I’ve enjoyed that Open Path has brought a variety of colorful and diverse people into my practice, some with deep issues.”
He added, “Working with Open Path has kept me mindful of my ‘Samaritan’ roots and reminds me that it’s often about more than money. It has brought me into contact with people who were more like me than I could have imagined.”
On the downside, Davis states that he’s been disappointed on occasion “to uncover deceptive practices in the reporting of income to Open Path.” He said that some people who have used his services under its program are more than able to pay a full fee but they just chose not to.
He recommends using a brief, solution-focused approach with such potential clients and also seeking a more “rigorous, upfront, financial inquiry,” prior to starting the work.
Jen Berlingo, a San Francisco Bay area licensed professional counselor and art therapist, dedicates one slot per week for Open Path clients and has had a positive experience.
“I was seeking a structured way for my offerings to be accessible in a market where private practice psychotherapy is especially pricey. I’ve found that therapists, especially where I work in Silicon Valley, are reluctant to offer sliding scale rates in their practices for various reasons. But, Open Path makes it easy by setting a fee that is affordable for clients and that therapists can depend upon with regularity.”
She feels appreciative that Open Path allows her to connect with clients who may not otherwise be able to afford these services.
As an added bonus, Open Path therapists receive discounts on several different programs, trainings and products. Fugelsang also invites all Open Path therapists to join a private Facebook group to promote their practice, share their experiences or provide mutual support.
Group of professionals photo available from Shutterstock