Occupational Politics

Recognition of systemic therapy as a scientifically recognised psychotherapy method

Systemic therapy and counselling are by now some of the most sought-after qualifications in the field of psychosocial care. They are practiced by members of a variety of professions. This is in accordance with the interdisciplinary nature of the systemic approach.

Since the Scientific Advisory Board on Psychotherapy (Wissenschaftlicher Beirat Psychotherapie, WBP) approved systemic therapy as a scientifically recognised method in December 2008, social education workers and psychologists can be trained as psychotherapists with a specialisation in systemic therapy.

The Psychotherapy Act (Psychotherapeutengesetz, PsychThG) was passed in 1998 and regulates training for professional psychotherapists. It distinguishes between training to become

  • a Child and Adolescent Therapist (Kinder- und Jugendlichenpsychotherapeut/in, KJP), who is later allowed to treat children and adolescents, with a graduate degree in social education work or psychology as a requirement to enter training and
  • a so-called Psychological Psychotherapist (Psychologische/r Psychotherapeut/in, PP), who is later allowed to treat adults, with a graduate degree in psychology as a requirement to enter training.

The Psychotherapy Act is in urgent need of reform as e.g. it does not regulate entry requirements now that the new master’s and bachelor’s degrees have been introduced [and have widely replaced the former German “Diplom” degrees – translator’s note].

Systemic Therapy is currently not financed by National Health Insurance

The Federal Joint Committee (Gemeinsamer Bundesausschuss, G-BA) is the highest decision-making body of the joint self-governance of physicians, dentists, psychotherapists, hospitals and health insurance providers in Germany. It decides, amongst other things, which services are paid for by statutory health insurance. These services are described in the Code of Social Law, Book V (5. Sozialgesetzbuch, SGB V).

In the so-called Psychotherapy Directive (Psychotherapie-Richtlinie) the Federal Joint Committee has determined which psychotherapy methods are covered by statutory health insurance. At present cognitive behavioural therapy, psychodynamic psychotherapy and psychoanalytic psychotherapy are covered in Germany.

Currently, the Federal Joint Committee is verifying the systemic therapy in terms of its efficacy. A positive appraisal of the Federal Joint Committee would result in the inclusion of systemic therapy in the Psychotherapy Directive.