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FAQ: Recognition of Professional Qualifications

European and international degrees

  1. Can anyone call themselves a "psychologist" in Germany, or are only certain people allowed by law to use this professional title?
  2. Where can I go to get my academic qualifications or professional title approved
  3. How can I use a degree title awarded in another country when I am in Germany?
  4. I was awarded a degree in psychology in Poland or Russia and the word "Diplom" is printed on the margin of the certificate. Am I entitled to call myself a psychologist?
  5. I have been awarded the degree of "Magister Soziale Verhaltenswissenschaften. Am I entitled to call myself a psychologist?
  6. I have studied psychology as a minor subject. Am I entitled to call myself a psychologist?
  7. What qualifications does the Open University "conversion course" provide and are they recognised in Germany?
  8. Where can I find information about the equivalence of the educational qualifications I have obtained outside of Germany with German "Diplom" degrees?
  9. What regulations govern the recognition of foreign degrees in Germany?
  10. What do I have to do in order to begin work as a psychologist in Germany with a qualification I have obtained in another country?
  11. What is a certificate of assessment of an educational qualification obtained abroad ("Zertifikat zur Bewertung eines ausländischen Bildungsabschlusses")?
  12. "Certificate of professional qualification" – Assessment of the professional qualification status of German degrees abroad.
  13. How do British and American bachelor's/master's degrees compare with the German "Diplom"?
  14. How do bachelor's/master's degrees taken in Germany compare with the German Diplom?
  15. If I hold a bachelor's degree in psychology, how can I go on to obtain a Diplom degree?
  16. What is the structure of degree courses leading to the qualification of "Diplom-Psychologe" in Germany?
  17. Which universities offer Diplom degrees in psychology?
  18. Does a degree which I have gained outside of Germany qualify me to take a doctoral degree in Germany?
  19. What are the career prospects in Germany for graduates holding a bachelor's or master's degree?
  20. Can anyone call themselves a "psychotherapist", or are only certain people allowed by law to use this professional title?
  21. What requirements must be met before someone can practice psychotherapy in Germany?
  22. What requirements must be met before a license can be granted to a psychological psychotherapist or child and youth psychotherapist?
  23. What documents must be submitted with an application for a license to practise as a psychological psychotherapist / child and youth psychotherapist?
  24. What entry qualifications are required in order to train as a psychological psychotherapist or child and youth psychotherapist?
  25. Where is it possible to train to become a psychological psychotherapist or child and youth psychotherapist?
  26. What is the difference between a psychological psychotherapist and a child and youth psychotherapist?
  27. What requirements must be met before a limited licence to work as an alternative non-medical practitioner in the field of psychotherapy can be granted?
  28. I have found training institutes on the internet which prepare applicants for the examination in alternative non-medical practice and consequently for legal authorisation to practise as a psychotherapist. Which of these institutes could you recommend?
  29. Is it worth training to become a "psychological counsellor" and what are the career prospects of such professionals?
  30. I would like to do my practical placement in another country, such as Austria or Switzerland. Is this possible?
  31. Important links

1. Can anyone call themselves a "psychologist" in Germany, or are only certain people allowed by law to use this professional title?
The German Federal High Court of Justice has ruled (BGH 1985 AZ: I ZR 147/83) that only persons holding a degree (German Diplom) in psychology are allowed to call themselves psychologists. Clients receiving psychological services assume that anyone using the professional title of "psychologist" has studied and graduated in psychology as a main subject at an institution of higher education. In legal commentaries the professional title (psychologist or professional psychologist) is associated with completion of a higher-education degree course in psychology as the main subject of a duration of at least 5 years. Clients of psychological services would be misled if other persons who did not hold such academic qualifications were to use the professional title of psychologist.
The illegitimate use of the professional title of psychologist is a violation of the German Unfair Competition Act.

2. Where can I go to get my academic qualifications or professional title approved?
To date the ministries of science and education at the state level have been responsible for accrediting academic qualifications. This has been superseded by a general accreditation regulation which has passed from European into German law and which now applies to the use of academic qualifications and titles.
The legal position in Germany is determined at the state (Land) level; refer to Question 3.
Explicit state recognition is no longer required; instead, a returning German national or foreign national coming to work in Germany is now personally responsible for complying with the general accreditation rules and can be held legally responsible for any violations of these regulations. In some cases even written documentation issued by specific public authorities can be misleading in this respect.
Under Section 132a(1) of the German Penal Code (StGB) the illegitimate use of titles, academic qualifications and professional titles may be prosecuted and result in sentences of up to one year of imprisonment. The same applies under Section 132a(2) of the Penal Code to the illegitimate use of confusingly similar professional titles. This means that in Germany only people who have graduated in psychology as their main subject are entitled to call themselves "Diplom-Psychologe" or even "psychologists". Clients may not be misled about professional skills and the use of the professional title of "psychologist" is also restricted by Section 5(2) No. 3 of the Unfair Competition Act in this respect. The use of purchased titles and qualifications is prohibited! General rules and regulations on the use of academic titles only apply to recognised institutions of higher education, in other words to institutions which are legally entitled to award the relevant academic qualification in their country.

3. How can I use a degree title awarded in another country when I am in Germany?
Uniform rules and regulations apply in all the federal states of Germany:
You are entitled to use your title – specifying the institution of higher education by which it has been awarded - in the form in which it was awarded provided that the following preconditions are met:

  1. The relevant title is a degree attested by a certificate recognised by the state in which the degree was awarded.
  2. The academic title was awarded by a state-recognised institution of higher education.
  3. The degree was awarded by the relevant institution of higher education upon proper completion of a course of academic study and the passing of an examination. This means that you are not entitled to use similar professional titles which merely certify the recognition of a course of training by a private organisation.

Examples for the correct use of a title:
Marco Lazzeri Diploma di Laurea Psicologia, University of Bologna
The original form in which the degree is awarded (e.g. Cyrillic letters) may be transcribed into Latin letters where applicable. Approved abbreviations or abbreviations which are verifiably customary in the country of origin may also be used and a literal translation provided in parentheses.
The notes and proposals in the database run by the Zentralstelle für ausländisches Bildungswesen set up in Germany by the Conference of Ministers of Education and Cultural Affairs (www.anabin.de) must be taken into account if a professional title is translated.
The German translation does not replace the actual degree awarded. The translation may only be used in connection with the original degree title and not on its own.
Academic degrees awarded in European Union countries, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway or Switzerland can be used in their original form without the need to cite the awarding university in the following states:
Berlin
Brandenburg
Bremen
Hesse
North-Rhine Westphalia
Thuringia.
The rules governing the obligation to cite the name of the awarding university are expected to be repealed in the other federal states in the future.
Special rules agreed in treaties with Australia, Israel, Canada, the USA and Russia apply to Ph.D. or Dr. degrees awarded in these countries. These degrees entitle their holders to use the title of Dr. in Germany.
Other examples:

1. Poland. Degree title: psychologia (psychology):
  Correct usage in Germany:
  - Helena Podolski Magister psychologia, Uni Warschau
  Or, alternatively, in Berlin, Brandenburg, Bremen, Hesse, North-Rhine Westphalia, Thuringia:
  - Helena Podolski Magister psychologia
  - mgr. Helena Podolski (Magister Psychologie, Uni Warschau)
  Prohibited: Helena Podolski, Magister in Psychologie

2. Poland. Degree title: psychologia zdrowia (health psychology):
  Correct usage in Germany:
  - Krystian Kowalski Magister (psychologia zdrowia, Uni Warschau)
  - Krystian Kowalski mgr. psychologia zdrowia, (Psychologie der Gesundheit, Uni Warschau)
  Prohibited: Krystian Kowalski Magister (Psychologie der Gesundheit)
  The texts of the relevant laws in the federal states can be found here:

4. I was awarded a degree in psychology in Poland or Russia and the word "Diplom" is printed on the margin of the certificate. Am I entitled to call myself a "Diplom-Psychologe"?
No. Academic qualifications and references (referred to together as a title, e.g. "Master of Arts") are awarded on completion of a specific university-based programme and must be used in the form in which they were awarded and in that form only. Degree titles awarded are easily recognisable and are positioned in the middle of the certificate. References to a Diplom/Diploma on any other part of the certificate awarded outside Germany usually only mean that the document in question is some form of certificate for a course of training of some kind. Because the word "Diplom" refers in Germany to an academic degree – and only certain qualified groups of people are entitled to use this title – the word "Diplom" is subject to the same restrictions which apply to other similar titles.
These rules protect clients by enabling them to discern and distinguish between the skills and training associated with each title. This also makes sense bearing in mind that the contents of such training and degree courses differ in terms of level and depth (specialisation), often quite considerably, from country to country throughout Europe and worldwide. Only one title may be awarded on a certificate for a particular degree course. The wording of academic degrees may not be changed – a "Diplom" may not, for example, be changed to a "Master".
A "Diplom" may not be changed into a "Master", "Magister", "Lizenziat", "Kandidat", "Spezialist" or any other title either. Academic degrees may only be used in their original form. This means, for example, that a "Magister" awarded in Poland may not be translated in use to a "Diplom" (a term which sometimes appears on the margin of such Polish certificates). Words from the certificate or potentially misleading titles may not be used together in mixed form with the actual academic degree, even if some translators make this mistake.

5. I have been awarded the degree of "Magister Soziale Verhaltenswissenschaften". Am I entitled to call myself a psychologist?
No. The nature of the degree course in "Soziale Verhaltenswissenschaften" (offered by the Fernuniversität Hagen) has often been misunderstood in the past by students and colleagues. It is not correct to assume that the degree course is largely identical to a Diplom degree in psychology, differing only in its restricted coverage of clinical psychology. The psychological knowledge and skills provided by this distance learning course are not equivalent to those acquired during a "Diplom" university degree course; this means that the degree course must be considered equivalent to the study of psychology as a minor subject. A holder of this degree is not, therefore, entitled to use the title "psychologist". Academic and professional titles may only be used which have been legitimately awarded – in this case "Magister" or "Sozialverhaltenswissenschaftler".
The rationale of this distinction is illustrated by the various degree courses in which psychology is studied as a minor subject (educational science, social work, business administration, health sciences, teaching, etc.). If graduates were entitled to use professional titles based in each case on one or two semesters of study it would no longer be apparent to clients who was genuinely qualified to do what.

6. I studied psychology as a minor subject. Am I entitled to call myself a psychologist?
No. A ruling by the German Federal High Court of Justice (AZ:IZR174/83) held that, because clients would expect someone using the professional title of "psychologist" to have completed a university degree in psychology as the main subject, the professional title of "psychologist" can only be used by someone who holds a "Diplom" degree in psychology or equivalent degree. Clients would be misled if other persons who did not have such qualifications were to use the professional title of psychologist. The illegitimate use of the professional title of psychologist is a violation of the German Unfair Competition Act. In fact, people who use this title illegitimately risk prosecution under Section 132a(2) of the Penal Code.

7. What qualifications does the Open University "conversion course" provide and are they recognised in Germany?
The "Conversion Course" leading to the "Diploma in Psychology” qualification is a special feature of the English educational system which is designed to enable graduates to register as members of the British Psychological Society (BPS) and which roughly corresponds with the level of a bachelor's degree in social science.
The qualification may be obtained after a one-year period of distance learning study of psychology provided that the student already has a first degree in which they studied psychology for one year – regardless of whether psychology was studied as a major or minor subject (60 credit points in psychology). Alternatively, students who have not taken psychology at all in their previous degrees must first successfully complete an introductory course in psychology worth 60 credit points which is offered by the Open University.
In England this qualification has been accredited in an agreement between the Open University and the BPS as entitling holders to the British Psychological Society (BPS) Graduate Basis for Registration.
The professional qualification which is equivalent in Great Britain to the German "Diplom" in psychology is the "masters" which, after completing a period of one year of supervised practice, is recognised by the BPS with the label "chartered psychologist”.
The conversion grade regulations referred to above relate to a private agreement which concern a level of study which does not correspond to the usual standard of degree courses in Europe in general and in Germany in particular.
The skills and knowledge normally acquired in a German "Diplom" degree course or in combined bachelor's/master's degree courses – methodologies, developmental psychology, psychology of personality, clinical psychology and other usual subjects – are not acquired in the conversion course.
The Open University also expects students to put 1,200 hours of work a year into the course whereas the German "Diplom" in psychology requires 1,740-1,800 hours of study a year. The English diploma does not require candidates to demonstrate their scientific knowledge in the field of psychology in a form equivalent to that in a main subject degree in which students are required to submit a bachelor or "Vordiplom" thesis, to complete a final scientific dissertation and to sit written and oral examinations in at least 14 subject areas.
The German professional title of "psychologist" is equivalent to the German "Diplom" or "masters" qualification in psychology and, as ruled by the highest courts in Germany (refer to question 1), is inseparable from a university degree in psychology. This means that graduates of the "conversion course" are not entitled to call themselves "psychologists".
From a German perspective this qualification cannot be accredited as only very few modules are usually taken during a distance learning course and the qualification strived for is not equivalent to other comparable international qualifications but is rather primarily intended to qualify holders for membership of a private society (BPS).
Holders of this qualification must therefore be warned against using the professional title of "psychologist" in Germany. The BDP will take legal action against any graduates of such conversion courses known to be using the professional title of "psychologist" in Germany.

8. Where can I find information about the equivalence of the educational qualifications I have obtained outside of Germany with German "Diplom" degrees?
A good place to start is www.anabin.de. Anabin is a database of information on university qualifications and degrees awarded by universities outside of Germany, the conditions for their award and notes on their status in comparison with German academic degrees.
The database has been developed by the Hesse Ministry of Science and Arts, the Central Office of International Education (Zentralstelle für ausländisches Bildungswesen), the Equivalence Centre of the Austrian Federal Ministry of Science and Culture and the Equivalence Centre of the Ministry of Science in Luxembourg. The database is in a ongoing process of development and does not as yet claim to be comprehensive.
However, the database does provide information about the relationship between a foreign qualification and a German qualification (the "equivalence class"). There are three equivalence classes:

Formally comparable type of qualification:
The foreign qualification is formally but not substantially comparable with the equivalent German type of qualification.
Corresponding type of qualification:
The foreign qualification is formally comparable with the equivalent German type of qualification. No information is available on substantial comparability.
Equivalent type of qualification:
The foreign qualification is formally and substantially comparable with the equivalent German type of qualification.
Formal equivalence exists when the foreign degree qualifies its holder to practise (in the country in which the qualification has been awarded) an academic profession corresponding with a comparable profession in Germany.
A foreign qualification is substantially equivalent if a review of the content of such qualification shows that the qualification corresponds in scope and level with the applicable requirements in Germany.

9. What regulations govern the recognition of foreign degrees in Germany?
The recognition of training undertaken by a national of a Member State of the EU leading to a (state) regulated professional qualification acquired in a member country of the EU is subject to Directive 2005/36/EC.
This directive states that a lawful academic title acquired upon successful completion of "a post-secondary course of at least three years' duration" in an EU country must, in principle, be automatically recognised in all other EU countries.
The directive states further that such qualifications and rights of pursuing the profession must be recognised if the profession which the applicant is entitled to practise in the host member state without undertaking any further training is equivalent to the profession he or she might wish to practise in Germany. An assessment is then made to determine whether the training in question is substantially comparable with the equivalent training in Germany. If this is the case, the qualification is immediately recognised. If there are substantial differences, recognition may be subject to conditions (aptitude test or period of supervised practise). These conditions may be waived if the applicant can provide evidence of sufficiently long professional experience (usually of two years).
Both directives apply in Germany and in all other EU member states.

10. What do I have to do in order to begin work as a psychologist in Germany with a qualification I have obtained in another country?
1) The following fields of psychological practise are regulated in Germany:

  1. Psychotherapy practised by psychotherapists (refer to PsychThG and Question 21 ff.).
  2. Psychotherapy practised by 'alternative practitioners'. Refer to HPG (Heilpraktikergesetz) and state implementation regulations and questions 27 and 28).
  3. Recognition as a traffic psychologist under Section 71 of the German driving license regulations (Fahrerlaubnisverordnung, FeV) is based on recognition by the traffic psychology section of the BDP.
  4. Recognition of specialist psychologists (specialists in clinical psychology, legal psychology, traffic psychology) and statutorily regulated expert assessments under the Firearms Act (Section 3 WaffG) is issued by the applicable sections of the BDP or, in the case of legal psychology, by the Federation of German Psychologists' Associations (BDP and DGPs).

2) No other fields of activity are subject to specific regulations. However, anyone wishing to offer such services using the professional title of psychologist must comply with the applicable rules in each case. As explained above, it is not possible simply to refer to oneself as a "psychologist", not even if this title is supposedly supplemented by specific national details such as national abbreviations or by appending descriptive adjectives or nouns to titles such as "Psychologe-Russ.", "Kinderpsychologe" (child psychologist), "Verkehrspsychologe" (traffic psychologist), "praktischer Psychologe" (practical psychologist), etc.
3) Whether qualifications obtained outside of Germany will be accepted in fields of psychological activity which are not directly regulated will ultimately be decided by the labour market, demand on the market for services and by employers.
As public employers and related institutions (e.g. hospitals) usually agree contracts with cost units (e.g. health insurance funds) which stipulate the qualifications of employees, evidence will often need to be presented which demonstrates that a qualification obtained abroad is equivalent to a German qualification.

11. What is a certificate of assessment of an educational qualification obtained abroad ("Zertifikat zur Bewertung eines ausländischen Bildungsabschlusses")?
Potential employers often find it difficult to assess the status of foreign qualifications presented by people applying for a position as psychologist in Germany. In some circumstances employers may therefore ask you to present confirmation of professional qualifications. As the association responsible for professional practise in the Federation of German Psychologists' Associations the BDP is also responsible for confirming professional qualifications.
It is usually a good idea to obtain a certificate in advance and to enclose it with your application as this will improve your chances of getting the job you want.
We charge a fee of 250 EUR for assessing the documents of non-members and issuing a corresponding certificate of recognition, Members of the BDP would pay 90 EUR.
In order to provide you with the most detailed possible statement we require comprehensive information about your degree course and any other qualifications you may have (duration of degree course, key subjects, degree certificate, duration of practical placements, professional work after graduating, continuing professional development, etc.).
Please contact Fredi Lang directly if you require such a certificate (E-Mail: f.lang@bdp-verband.de, Tel: +49 (0)30 - 209 166 630)

12. "Certificate of professional qualification" – Assessment of the professional qualification status of German degrees abroad
If you wish to work as a psychologist outside of Germany, authorities or employers in other countries often require a "Certificate of professional qualification" or "Certificate of good standing" as evidence of your unrestricted entitlement to practise the profession and to assess your professional qualifications. This certificate also confirms that no professional or disciplinary measures have been taken or initiated against you.
The BDP is responsible for providing such confirmation of professional qualifications.
We charge a fee of 250 EUR for assessing the documents of non-members and issuing a corresponding certificate of recognition, Members of the BDP would pay 90 EUR.
In order to provide you with the most detailed possible statement we require comprehensive information about your degree course and any other qualifications you may have (duration of degree course, key subjects, degree certificate, duration of practical placements, professional work after graduating, continuing professional development, etc.).
Please contact Fredi Lang directly if your require such a Certificate of professional qualification in English or French (E-Mail: f.lang@bdp-verband.de, Tel: +49 (0)30 - 209 166 630).

13. How do British and American bachelor's/master's degrees compare with the German "Diplom"?
The German course of study leading to a "Diplom" is a higher level of qualification in terms of scope of psychological knowledge than most bachelor degrees of the type offered in Great Britain or the USA. BA degrees only require psychology to make up 50% of the degree course content. The share of course content made up by psychology in stage I (Grundstudium) of the German Diplom degree course, on the other hand, is 100% whereby the scope of psychological knowledge learned in the German first-part finals (Vordiplom) is significantly higher than in the bachelor's degree.
The German stage I studies (up to first-part finals) requires up to 3,520 hours of psychology. In stage II studies (Hauptstudium) students are allowed to opt for one or two non-psychological electives so that the non-psychological subjects in this part of the course make up no more than 23% - as a rule only 11.5% - of course content.
In contrast, British master's degrees require more practical placement experience and less theoretical content. In contrast to the master's degree, which focuses on only one area of specialism, the German "Diplom" degree requires a specialist focus in two or more fields. The "Diplom" degree contains two of the three possible in-depth specialist fields: clinical psychology, industrial and organisational psychology, and educational psychology. German stage II studies (Hauptstudium) requires 4,385 hours of study. Of this time at least 3,380 hours must be spent specifically on psychology in the narrow sense of the term.
In summary, then, the "Diplom" degree contains considerably more psychology content than the English, and particularly, the US American bachelor's/master's degree courses and is significantly more scientific and theoretical in orientation, requires more evidence of scientific work and provides qualifications in a broader range of working areas.
The quality of teaching and teachers is extremely varied, particularly in the USA, and is usually substantially lower than the teaching leading to a British degree. The US American BA degree course teaches at a level comparable with the upper class of a German high school and many master's degrees do not even require a scientific dissertation.

14. How do bachelor's/master's degrees taken in Germany compare with the German Diplom?
As a rule it is true to say that master's degrees are academically equivalent to the German Diplom. The substantial comparability of the two types of degree only applies, however, if the bachelor's and master's degree programmes meet the requirements of the Association of German Professional Psychologists (DGPs). Just because a degree course has been accredited does not necessarily mean that it meets the academic requirements recognised in the professional world.
The six-semester bachelor's degree is approximately equivalent – or somewhat higher – to completion of German first-part finals (Vordiplom). The master's degree is equivalent in academic terms to the German Diplom. Because it concentrates on one particular area, the practical qualification offered by a master's degree is more specialised and focused than the Diplom degree. The Diplom degree offers this level of specialisation in two fields combined with broader but less in-depth qualifications.
In formal terms the master's degree and Diplom degree are equivalent – in other words, both degrees are equally recognised throughout Europe with regard to professional practice.

15. If I hold a bachelor's degree in psychology, how can I go on to obtain a Diplom degree?
In order to gain a Diplom degree it is necessary to take a Diplom degree course.
Graduates with a bachelor's degree who would like to obtain a Diplom degree could join a Diplom degree course midway through the degree. This means that such graduates are not required to begin the psychology degree course in its first semester if subject-related semesters are recognised in advance. A completed bachelor's degree will probably qualify aspiring Diplom graduates to have six to seven semesters of work accredited to them.
Recognition is the prerogative of the particular university to which a student applies. Applications must be sent directly to a student's university of choice.
This may prove problematic in some circumstances as the student will not only need to obtain recognition of subject-related semesters, the university will also have to have capacity to take on new students mid course. Graduates with bachelor's degrees will therefore find themselves competing for scarce places with students in Germany wishing to move from one location to another who will be given priority.

16. What is the structure of degree courses leading to the qualification of "Diplom-Psychologe" in Germany?
Diplom psychologists follow a Diplom degree course whose main subject is psychology. This university course ends with the award of the degree title "Diplom-Psychologe".
The German Diplom in psychology is state recognised and entitles its holders to practise the profession of a psychologist in all fields of psychology.
The standard period of study leading to a Diplom degree in psychology is 10 semesters. The degree course is divided into stage I studies lasting 4 semesters and stage II studies lasting 5 semesters. Students also undertake a practical placement which usually entails six months of full time work. The "standard period of study" of 10 semesters is only a theoretical guide to the length of time students will need to study, however. Statistical evidence shows that, on average, students typically need 12.6 subject-related semesters in order to complete their psychology degree courses.
Stage I studies cover fundamental aspects of basic and methodological training and consist of 7 examination subjects (general psychology I+II, biological psychology, personality psychology, developmental psychology, methodology and social psychology).
Students must submit evidence of academic achievement (e.g. seminar papers, written examinations, term papers, etc.) in the seven specified examination subjects before they are able to sit the first Diplom examination at the end of stage I studies and must also submit evidence of successful participation in an empirical placement.
Stage I studies are completed with oral examinations in the 7 examination subjects and the award of an intermediate diploma (Vordiplom).
The knowledge and skills acquired during stage I studies are then deepened and extended during stage II studies (Hauptstudium). Stage II studies have a more applied slant and consist of three examination subjects (industrial and organisational psychology, clinical psychology and educational psychology) as well as 2 method-oriented examination subjects (diagnostics and intervention, evaluation and research methods). Students also opt for an in-depth research-oriented examination subject in psychology and a non-psychology examination subject.
Students must submit evidence of academic achievement in 7 examination subjects, submit a degree thesis (Diplomarbeit) and evidence of work on a practical placement (usually of 6 months' duration) before entering the final Diplom examination.
The final Diplom examination leads to a professional qualification and degree in psychology. The degree consists of a degree thesis which meets specified scientific criteria and 7 oral Diplom examinations in the subjects referred to above.

17. Which universities offer Diplom degrees in psychology?
The website of the Association of German Professional Psychologists (DGPs), the federation partner of the BDP, at http://www.dgps.de/studium/ lists all the universities which offer psychology as a main subject leading to a Diplom degree.

18. Does a degree which I have gained outside of Germany qualify me to take a doctoral degree?
Doctoral degrees can be taken in Germany at authorised universities, Gesamthochschulen and institutes of education. Doctoral students must have completed a university degree involving a standard period of study of at least 8 to 10 semesters.
People who have studied abroad and wish to take a doctoral degree in Germany must submit evidence of a degree which would qualify them to study for a doctoral degree in the country in which it was awarded and which is equivalent to a German university degree.
The relevant university body in Germany is responsible and empowered to assess the equivalence of a degree awarded outside Germany with a German degree. The doctoral committee is usually the relevant body. Prior to their decision, the relevant institution may ask for an opinion from the Central Office of International Education (Zentralstelle für ausländisches Bildungswesen).
The remit of the Central Office of International Education (which is based at the offices of the Permanent Conference of the State Ministers of Education and Cultural Affairs) is to provide consultative support and information to bodies responsible for recognising educational qualifications obtained outside Germany (e.g. public authorities, ministries, institutions of higher education). The Conference itself is not empowered to take decisions which are the sole prerogative of the responsible bodies.

19. What are the career prospects in Germany for graduates holding a bachelor's or master's degree?
As things stand it is not possible to provide any reliable guidance on the career prospects of graduates with bachelor's or master's degrees as very few such graduates with German or international degrees are currently active on the German labour market.
The Diplom degree is currently established in Germany. In contrast, companies and institutions are not yet familiar with bachelor's and master's degrees. This makes it very difficult to evaluate such degrees. Bachelor degrees from different countries can, of course, vary widely both in terms of the length of study required (3-4 years) to obtain them and in their qualitative content (private elite college / community college). Problems evaluating bachelor's and master's degrees will almost certainly become less acute in the years ahead as more and more bachelor's and master's degree courses are established in Germany itself.
Whether a specific degree is accredited or not is bound to play an important role in the assessment of German bachelor's and master's degrees. Accreditation involves the assessment and evaluation of degree courses by accreditation agencies. The purpose of accreditation is to secure the quality of teaching and study and to provide employers and students alike with reliable yardsticks for assessing new bachelor's and master's degree courses. The standards against which agencies assess degree courses are laid down by the Accreditation Council (www.akkreditierungsrat.de).
Accreditation procedures are costly and many degree courses have consequently not yet been assessed.

20. Can anyone call themselves a "psychotherapist", or are only certain people allowed by law to use this professional title?
The Psychotherapist Act of 1 January 1999 restricts the use of the professional title of psychotherapist. This title may now only be used by licensed physicians, licensed psychological psychotherapists and licensed child and youth psychologists.
The professional titles "psychological psychotherapist" and "child and youth psychotherapist" may only be used by practitioners licensed as a psychological psychotherapist or child and youth psychotherapist. Refer to Section 1 of the Psychotherapy Act (PsychThG) and Section 132a of the German Penal Code (StGB).

21. What requirements must be met before someone can practice psychotherapy in Germany?
Psychotherapy is a method of intervention used to help people experiencing problems of living (mental problems or illnesses). Psychotherapeutic treatment may only be offered in Germany by state approved practitioners.
The form of state approval required may be the license originally granted to medical practitioners and which, with the entry into force of the Psychotherapy Act (Psychotherapeutengesetz), can now also be granted to psychologists holding the appropriate qualifications in this field (license to practice as a psychological psychotherapist or child and youth psychotherapist).
This license entitles its holders to become members of the Association of Insurance Doctors (Kassenärztliche Vereinigung) and consequently to charge insurance funds for treatment of insured patients. Licensed practitioners can establish a practice at a specific location and do not have to rely solely on fees charged directly to private patients.
The Heilpraktikergesetz (HPG), which regulates the practice of alternative non-medical treatments, also allows practitioners who hold a limited license to work in the field of psychotherapy to practise psychotherapy.
However, alternative non-medical practitioners who are licensed under HPG regulations are not allowed to use the professional title of "psychotherapist". They have to charge private fees and cannot pass on their fees to the statutory insurance funds.

22. What requirements must be met before a license can be granted to a psychological psychotherapist or child and youth psychotherapist?
Under Section 2 of the Psychotherapy Act (PsychThG) licenses may be granted to:

  • graduate practitioners who have completed a post-graduate training course of at least 3 years' duration in Germany to become a psychological psychotherapist or child and youth psychotherapist or who has completed an equivalent training in psychotherapy in an EU member state or a third state.
  • who has language skills necessary for the purposes of exercising their professional activity
  • who can submit a police certificate of good conduct (criminal records bureau check) and
  • who are in good physical and mental health.

23. What documents must be submitted with an application for a license to practise as a psychological psychotherapist / child and youth psychotherapist?

  • A written application
  • Curriculum vitae outlining the applicant's education and training
  • Birth certificate, including any documents relating to a change of name (e.g. marriage certificate)
  • Evidence of citizenship (passport or similar)
  • Criminal records bureau check issued no longer than one month prior to submission
  • Documentation of academic degree certificate/title (e.g. Master, doctoral degree, habilitation) required for titles to be used on the license certificate.
  • Evidence of completion of final examinations in a recognised course of study
  • Medical report issued no longer than one month prior to submission which demonstrates that there are no indications that the applicant may be incapable of performing or unsuitable for the profession owing to physical ailments or mental or physical infirmity or addiction.
  • Diplom certificate for non-German applicants:
    • Evidence of command of the German language (e.g. from a state-recognised language institute)
    • Residence permit which does not exclude the holder from working
    • Criminal records bureau check from the applicant's home country or similar
    • Work permit

Documents written in languages other than German must be accompanied by an official German translation. If such a translation is made outside of Germany, it must be certified as true and correct (in the last instance by the German Embassy in the relevant country). Only certified photocopies or uncertified photocopies with the original documents should be enclosed with applications.
A fee for licences is charged of between € 350 and € 650 depending on the federal state in which the licence is granted.

24. What entry qualifications are required in order to train as a psychological psychotherapist or child and youth psychotherapist?
Child and youth psychotherapist

Child and youth psychotherapist

  • A Diplom degree in psychology awarded in Germany which includes the subject of clinical psychology

or

  • A degree in social work or education science awarded in Germany

or

  • A degree in psychology or a Diplom in social work or education science awarded in an EU member state or EEA treaty state

or

  • A degree successfully completed in any other country which is assessed as being equivalent to the relevant German degree qualification

Psychological psychotherapist

  • A Diplom degree in psychology awarded in Germany which includes the subject of clinical psychology

or

  • A degree in psychology awarded in an EU member state or EEA treaty state which is equivalent to the relevant German Diplom degree qualification

or

  • A degree in psychology successfully completed in any other country which is equivalent to the relevant German degree qualification

25. Where can I train to become a psychological psychotherapist or child and youth psychotherapist?
Training for the profession of psychological psychotherapist or child and youth psychotherapist is based on the Psychotherapist Act and is provided at institutions of higher education or other institutions which are state recognised as educational institutions for psychotherapy.
An overview is available at www.vpp.org. You can also inquire from the authorities responsible in the relevant federal state for recognising such courses about which training institutions are state recognised. You will need to approach the state government authorities in order to find out which body is responsible in each case.

26. What is the difference between a psychological psychotherapist and a child and youth psychotherapist?
In contrast to a psychological psychotherapist, Child and youth psychotherapists are only licensed to treat patients who have not yet reached the age of 21.
Exceptions to this rule are only possible in cases in which the success of a therapeutic intervention depends on treating children or young people together with adults or, in the case of adolescents, when psychotherapeutic therapy for a young person can only be completed after the client has reached the age of 21. Child and youth psychotherapists are therefore only entitled to work in a restricted area of psychotherapeutic practice, whereas in contrast to psychological psychotherapists licensed to treat patients of any age.

27. What requirements must be met before a limited licence to work as an alternative non-medical practitioner in the field of psychotherapy can be granted?
Applications for a restricted licence to work as an alternative non-medical practitioner in the field of psychotherapy under the terms of the Alternative Medicine Act (HPG) are sent to the public health departments. Applicants must be able to demonstrate skills and knowledge in the field of alternative non-medical practice.
For psychologists in particular this means that in most federal states it is possible to apply for an assessment on the basis of the applicant's documented qualifications. In some federal states applicants only need to demonstrate that they have taken "clinical psychology" as an examination subject as part of their psychology degree; in others further evidence, such as completion of training as a psychotherapist, may be required.
Assessments are performed by the responsible public health department. A written or oral examination of applicants' knowledge is not performed in such cases. Costs vary from €77 to €450 depending on the particular federal state.

28. I have found training institutes on the internet which prepare applicants for the examination in alternative non-medical practice and consequently for legal authorisation to practise as a psychotherapist. Which of these institutes would you recommend?
In our view these training courses are nowhere near adequate to qualify practitioners to provide competent and safe psychological advice, let alone psychotherapy. The usual course duration fluctuates between 120 hours and 600 hours – an amount which corresponds to around four months of study on a degree course. This means that we cannot recommend any of these training institutes – in fact we believe it is our duty to draw clients' attention to the low level of competence possessed by such practitioners before they decide to make use of their services.

29. Is it worth training to become a "psychological counsellor" and what are the career prospects of such professionals?
We do not recommend people to strive for the professional title "psychological counsellor". As this professional title is not protected, anybody is entitled to call themselves a "psychological counsellor" regardless of their training or lack of training. This demonstrates how little value such a professional title has. Training courses of this type are also often based on distance learning and/or evening courses which aim to teach a minimum of psychological knowledge and therapeutic techniques in the shortest time possible. It is not possible to acquire adequate basic psychological knowledge in the course of a two year training programme which also covers subjects other than psychology. "Psychological counsellors" are only entitled to apply for a restricted licence to work as an alternative non-medical practitioner in the field of psychotherapy and are consequently only able to charge fees to their clients on a private basis.
As far as the career prospects of " psychological councillors" are concerned, it is important to remember that such practitioners will find themselves in competition with extremely well qualified Diplom psychologists, members of other social professions and, above all, psychological psychotherapists. The latter are not only equipped with a Diplom degree, they will also have completed an additional three to five-year psychotherapeutic training.
As the psychotherapeutic market is already saturated in many regions, competition is fierce.

30. I would like to do my practical placement in another country, such as Austria or Switzerland. Is this possible?
While this would be theoretically possible, it will probably prove difficult in practice. To begin with the envisaged in-patient institution would be required to offer a detailed presentation of its activities. It would then be necessary to persuade the training institute, such as the Ministry of Health or state examination office in the relevant federal state, to carry out a detailed assessment of the relevant documents and to accredit the institution accordingly. As non-German hospitals are not automatically entitled to demand recognition, the outcome of such an enterprise depends crucially on the willingness of the ministry or training institute to do the necessary work. This usually means it is very difficult to accredit such institutions and such attempts usually fail in advance and owing to the amount of work involved.

31. Important links