Unauthorized Translation and Summary from the 23-page Methodological
Paper of the German National Scientific Council for Psychotherapy
Regulations for assessing the scientific recognition of psychotherapeutic
methods and procedures.
I. Basis of the assessment of scientific acknowledgement of psychotherapy methods
From the beginning of the Scientific Psychotherapy Council, the council has tried to set up criteria
and rules for the assessment of academically recognizing psychotherapeutic procedures, and this was
published on the website: http://www.wbpsychotherapie.de. Due the experience gained so far, the
Scientific Psychotherapy Council decided to clarify and further on develop these regulations. The
reasons for such actions are due to legal consents for scientific- and methodological development,
and the general discussion on the evidence based medical nature of psychotherapeutic treatments.
The aim of amending the rules is to establish a scientific basis for the recognition of a structured, and
transparent, process. This is to enable an identical evaluation for all possible psychotherapy-methods
I.1 Psychotherapeutic Procedures, Methods and Techniques
In § 8 Paragraph 3 of the German psychotherapist-law (PsychThG) it is stated that: “the training
needs a basic skill in scientific depth, as well as an in-depth training in one of these methods.” In § 11
of the PsychThG, it is stated that cases that are of in doubt, will be judged and assessed by the
Scientific Psychotherapy Committee to see if it will be acknowledged or not.
In the extended publication of the psychotherapist-laws (Behnsen & Bernhardt, 1999), it is noted that
as soon an individual has entered into the psychotherapist-laws as a recognized therapist of
analytical psychotherapy, psychodynamic psychotherapy and/or behavioural therapy, and that
person is to follow the scientific rules defined in the PsychThG. In section B.I of the guidelines, the
analytical psychotherapy, the psychodynamic psychotherapy and the behavioural therapy are
marked as “procedures, which have a comprehensive theory of pathogenesis and for which specific
treatments are covered in their therapeutic efficacy”.
In research, new treatment methods are increasingly being produced and amended, however, there
still is no comprehensive psychotherapy procedure. Due to this fact, the scientific psychotherapy
council was asked on multiple occasions to ascertain the scientific acknowledgment/recognition of
psychotherapeutic methods. This establishes the necessity to decide if a psychotherapeutic
approach/beginning is a psychotherapy procedure, or a psychotherapy method. Hence, the Scientific
Psychotherapy Council has the following understanding of psychotherapy-procedures,
psychotherapy-methods, and psychotherapy-techniques:
Psychotherapy-Procedure (in German: Verfahren)
A suitable psychotherapy-procedure treatment is defined by:
An extensive knowledge of the theory of the origin and
maintenance of illnesses, and their treatment, and
A psychotherapeutic treatment strategy for a broad
spectrum in applications, or other specific psychotherapeutic treatment strategies
that have a wide range of applications, and
A concept for the indication, individual treatment plan,
and creation of the therapeutic relationship.
A scientific and acknowledged psychotherapy procedure must fulfil the conditions stated in points
II.5 and III.
A treatment of one or more disorders with the appropriate psychotherapy-method is defined by:
A theory of the origin and maintenance of the designated disorder(s), and the theory of its
Indication-criteria including their diagnostic acquisition.
The description of the procedure, and
The description of the intended treatment effect
A scientific and acknowledged psychotherapy method must fulfil the conditions stated in point II.5.
A psychotherapeutic technique is a concrete approach with which the intended psychotherapeutic
goal is to be achieved, with the appliance of psychotherapeutic methods and procedures. For
example, in the field of psychodynamic procedures: the transfer of increasing awareness of
unconscious relationship patterns, or in behavioural therapy: stimuli confrontation.
The scientific psychotherapy council checks the scientific acknowledgement of procedures and
independent psychotherapeutic methods. Methods that are categorized as a procedure, will not be
validated on behalf of their scientific acknowledgement, but simply be checked by their relation to