Fewer Germans may choose Psychology due to new law

Fewer Germans may choose Psychology due to new law

German training system for psychotherapists has been overhauled


MAASTRICHT. There is a lot of uncertainty about a new German law regarding psychotherapists. The programme in Germany has been reformed, as a result of which students who complete their bachelor’s and or master’s of Psychology in foreign country may possibly not meet the legal requirements to become a psychotherapist in Germany.

The Faculty of Psychology and Neurosciences (FPN) sees a drop of German applications in the enrolment figures, which may be related to the new law. “Although in a year in which registrations fluctuate strongly because of the corona pandemic, we cannot be sure of that,” says Petra Hurks, vice dean of education at FPN. As of yet, this is not causing any problems; every year the faculty receives between 1,100-1,600 applications, while only 450 first-year students can start. Still, the board is watching the developments in Germany closely.

What exactly has changed? Under the old law, anyone who wanted to become a psychotherapist in Germany, always had to do an additional course after the master’s, which was rounded off by a state exam. “This is comparable to the training for health care psychologist in the Netherlands,” says Petra Hurks, vice dean of education at FPN. “Although we don’t have a state exam here.”

This system has been overhauled. Instead of studying longer, a student in Germany will now already be preparing to be a psychotherapist in the bachelor’s and master’s programmes. This means that students can take the state exam sooner. “You will have to have gained a certain number of ECTS for specific parts and for practical experience through work placements during your bachelor’s and master’s.”


So, there is a good chance that students from Maastricht – where the bachelor’s and master’s programmes have a broader approach – will not meet the German requirements for psychotherapy or be allowed to take the state exam. But that is not certain. “Nobody seems to know what the options are,” says Hurks. “Maybe admission is possible after all, if students do an extra work placement and/or take extra courses, for example, – we don’t know.”

That is why FPN, together with the psychology faculties from other Dutch border universities, drew up a list with career tracks that you could take as a German with a Dutch degree in Psychology. These include organisational psychologist or neuroscientist. During future revisions of study programmes, those involved will keep the new developments in mind. “But some requirements are very much focussed on Germany, such as the requirement to have knowledge of German legal aspects. Our programmes are not made for that.”

New Dutch track

A new track for health care psychologists is also being discussed in the Netherlands. “For the same reasons as in Germany,” says Hurks. “At the moment, students only start with the health care training 6/7 years after the master’s. This means that until then they will not yet have the optimal qualification for the work and there is a danger that their academic research-oriented thinking has subsided somewhat. It would be a good thing if that period was shorter.”

But Hurks feels that sending students in the clinical direction sooner also has disadvantages. “You are limiting the choices – if you already have to obtain a certain number of credits in that area in your bachelor, there is less room left to take other courses. Sometimes during such an elective, students discover that they find those aspects of psychology more interesting, while they originally thought they would go into the clinic. In addition, it is a good thing that tutorial groups are diverse, with both future organisational psychologists and clinical psychologists.”

Author: Cleo Freriks

Photo: Alex Green via Pexels

Tags: psychology,clinical psychology,psychotherapy,Germany,German students,FPN,international classroom

Add Response

Click here for our privacy statement.

Since January 2022, Observant only publishes comments of people whose name is known to the editors.