Can German Psychology students still become psychotherapists?

| Jelle Posthuma

German Psychology students at the UT are worried about a recently approved law in their home country. The new law makes it a lot harder for this group of students to become psychotherapists in Germany. ‘But there are plenty of alternatives.’

Photo by: Gijs van Ouwerkerk

Since 2020, a new national law is in force for the German psychotherapy system. As a result, the Dutch bachelor's degree in Psychology may no longer be compatible with the German further education system, which is required to become a psychotherapist in Germany. ‘In short, students will have to jump through more hoops to get a chance at a place in the psychotherapist trajectory in Germany,' says Christina Bode, programme director of Psychology at the UT.

According to the programme director, German Psychology students have 'legitimate concerns' about the new German law. 'However, a lot is still unclear. At the moment, the German federal states and universities are busy translating the national legislation to the local level. Incidentally, students who study psychology in Germany will also have to deal with the stricter requirements.’


Together with other Dutch border universities, where many German students traditionally study, Bode keeps a close eye on the consequences of the new law. ‘Our bachelor students may have to complete certain extra-curricular activities in order to obtain a place in Germany, such as an extra internship or gaining knowledge of psychopharmacology. These subjects are not included in our programme. We inform students about this as best we can; that is all we can do at the moment. After all, we don't turn the knobs in Germany.’

Bode estimates that about half of the German Psychology students at UT aspire a career in mental healthcare in their home country. 'That is a large group. We therefore try to point out alternatives to our students. Think of all the fields that have something to do with behaviour and behavioural change. In psychology, there are plenty of other possibilities outside psychotherapy, and the job opportunities there are also significantly higher.'

According to Bode, there is another interesting option for German students. ‘Institutions in the Twente region are eager to welcome our clinical psychology graduates. German students would do well to learn Dutch alongside their English-taught study programme, so that they can gain experience at a workplace in the Netherlands during the master's phase. In the past, when the study programme was still in Dutch, we had good experiences with German students who started working here.’

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