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Cognitive Behavior Therapy in Germany by malj



                              Cognitive Behavior Therapy in Germany

                                     Heiner Vogel & Julia Zdrahal-Urbanek

             University of Würzburg, Institute for Psychotherapy and Medical Psychology

      I.     Introduction

             Behavior therapy was “imported” to Germany by several dedicated German

      psychologists1 in the late 1960s. The orientation towards the new therapeutical method

      was soon spread over university chairs and clinical psychology sections and became

      here the dominating psychotherapy in the late 1970s. The advantages of the

      implementation of behavior therapy into public health services were soon apparent, and

      the new method became officially authorized to be applied within out-patient health

      services in the 1980s.

             It is of great importance to stress that a differentiation between behavior therapy

      and cognitive behavior therapy is nowadays not relevant within institutions in which

      psychotherapy is applied and concerning political and structural development. When

      German authors adopted cognitive therapy and cognitive behavior therapy, a “cognitive

      change” took place under behavior therapists in the 1970s (an “emotional change” could

      be reported later, as well), and therapeutic actions started to focus more and more on

      cognitions. It was and is still occasionally criticized, though, that this development can

      also be seen as an immunization strategy as “controlled” therapy is combined with

      difficulties due to the fact that cognitions are not observable. Nevertheless bibliographic

      references as well as the actual training and practice deal with both classical behavioral

      as well as more cognitive based methods.

       The Max Planck Institute for Psychiatry in Munich, Germany, at that time headed by Prof. Johannes C.
      Brengelmann, is of extraordinarily great importance concerning the promotion and implementation of
      behavior therapy

Cognitive Behavior Therapy In Europe: Germany                                           2

      Nowadays behavior therapy tends to play a part within a general psycho-

therapeutical approach which also makes use of elements that are obtained from other

therapies – a development that is often discussed and criticized as it should affect

training concepts provided by the state.

      Out-patient health services started to apply behavior therapy concepts much slower

than scientific research dealt with it as the health sector underlies administrative

regulations. The latter are stronger influenced by social-political than by technical and

scientifical impulses.

      Other health service sectors and psychosocial services (e.g., in-patient

psychotherapy and rehabilitation, psychosocial counseling agencies and curing in-

patient institutions) integrated new behavior therapy concepts with much more


II. Current Cognitive Behavior Therapy practice in Germany

II.1 Key sectors where Cognitive Behavior Therapy is applied

      In Germany behavior therapy became extraordinarily important during the past

thirty years and it has become as relevant as psychodynamic and psychoanalytic therapy

concepts within psychotherapeutic health services. Moreover, behavior therapy is now

applied in almost every other health services sector as it has become evident that illness

has to be seen as a bio-psychosocial phenomenon. In addition to the main symptomatic

(e.g. a somatic diseases) usually interpersonal and psychological components exist

which interact with the main symptoms to a high extend. Thus, elements of behavior

therapy are now for example applied in orthopedics as well as in neurology, pediatrics

or other medical sectors and in the education sector.

      While the development of psychoanalysis and of psychodynamic therapies has

mainly been influenced by physicians and while these forms of psychotherapy are
Cognitive Behavior Therapy In Europe: Germany                                               3

primarily applied at university faculties for medicine, precisely psychotherapy sectors,

behavior therapy can bee seen as a therapy specialization with psychological

background (Bastine et al., 1995) as it has been mainly developed at psychological

university institutes, more specifically within clinical psychology. Early concepts of

behavior therapy were primarily based on human learning theory (“behavior therapy as

applied human learning theory”), while various concepts of other psychological

disciplines were integrated later. It was medical behavior therapists in close corporation

with physicians who started to apply and re-develop behavioral concepts (Meermann,


      As already mentioned, behavior therapy presumably is the most widely spread

psychotherapeutic discipline within German health services. According to a survey

conducted by Wittchen and Fichter (1980) and a survey that examined psychotherapists’

orientation towards different disciplines (Kindler et al., 1997), more than a third of all

participants were oriented towards behavior therapy.

      In the following article we will introduce the German health- and social services

and sectors in which behavior therapy is applied, and we will show different approaches

to it. Initially the reader shall be informed that German out-patient therapists have to

keep their orientation towards the one main discipline they have studied and they are

officially authorized for. This is especially the case for out-patient therapy and therapy

provided by health insurance agencies; psychotherapists who teach and supervise trainee

psychotherapists are affected, as well. Restrictions of this kind result from traditional

psychotherapy regulations as well as from training regulations. Mandatory orientation

towards a certain discipline also affects in-patient therapy.

      In   other   health    service   sectors   (e.g.   medical   rehabilitation,   inpatient

psychotherapy) various methods and disciplines have been integrated and mixed

together more and more so that a differentiation of different approaches does not seem
Cognitive Behavior Therapy In Europe: Germany                                                4

to make sense in this article. This pragmatical integration of various disciplines is

neither theoretically justified nor is it based on scientific findings. It demonstrates,

though, that further scientific research on various disciplines is required (Grawe, 1995).

II.2      Institutions that provide Cognitive Behavior Therapy

       The comparatively complicated German health- and social system will here be

explained from relevant key elements and main structures. The article will not deal with

some differentiations and details, though, which results from the demand of giving a

clear and comprehensible overview on the system.

                                   German health services

       German health services supplies are usually embedded in the national insurance

system. Residents generally have to register with a legal health insurance institution

with the exception of those who can choose private insurance-membership due to

especially high income or those who underlie the state as civil servants. Health

insurance membership is usually combined with care insurance membership. Pension

insurance- as well as unemployment insurance membership automatically starts with the

beginning of the first employment as the employer is required to check if legal insurance

membership exists. Moreover, employers have to pay a legal accident insurance

membership for their employees. Legal accident insurance companies carry benefits in

the case of work-related accidents or work-related diseases.

       The described kinds of insurances (Health insurance institutions, pension

insurance an unemployment insurance) run as self-government respectively autonomous

administration institutions as the state has no direct influence but just a supervising

status by laying down social laws (Vogel & Zdrahal-Urbanek, in press). An elected

internal administration team of which half of the representatives stand in for the

membership-holders and half stands in for the employers is responsible for
Cognitive Behavior Therapy In Europe: Germany                                               5

management- and supply matters. However, accident insurance representatives stand for

employers only.

                                      Pension insurance

      The pension insurance agencies’ job is to provide retirement payment for old-age

pensioners as well as rehabilitation measures in the case of inability to work respectively

if the ability to work is in danger. Unlike in other countries not only rehabilitation after

acute incidents (e.g., accidents, operations, and acute illness including stroke or heart

attack) but also rehabilitation in the case of chronic illness is provided. This is due to the

fact that chronic illness leads to a reduced capability in job and everyday-life and

therefore to reduced ability to work in the long-term.

      Most rehabilitation treatments are provided within in-patient measures. Due to a

change of types of illnesses during the past decades the amount of measures for

mentally ill insurance members has increased. Therefore the importance of these

measures has raised up to 20-25% (Statistisches Bundesamt 2000), just following the

number of rehabilitation treatments for patients with orthopedic problems. Pension

insurance institutions provide a total of one million in-patient measures every year.

                              Psychotherapeutic interventions

      Psychotherapeutic interventions is provided both within in-patient as well as out-

patient measures (Vogel, 1996; Vogel, 1999). Within out-patient measures those

provided by psychosocial counseling agencies have to be distinguished from “ordinary”

health services measures that are supplied by legal health insurance agencies or by

corresponding replacement systems.

                                  Psychosocial counseling

      Psychosocial counseling is usually provided within the corresponding counseling

agencies carried by various institutions, mostly social services or municipalities.

Counseling agencies typically focus on specific tasks. Those of extraordinarily great
Cognitive Behavior Therapy In Europe: Germany                                             6

importance include upbringing advice centers, counseling agencies for addicts, crisis

relief centers, and marriage guidance-, partner guidance-, and sexuality counseling

agencies. Benefits are usually carried by various institutions, in many times by subsidies

of the municipalities, regional governments, or the countries’ parliaments. The

institutions often carry benefits themselves, as well.

      An exact number of counseling agencies that are spread over Germany does not

seem to exist so far. Vogel (1996), though, estimates that approximately 10.000

institutions including about 10.000 all-day agencies exist. The agencies’ aim is to

provide psychosocial counseling adapted to each problem in order to find long-term

solutions. This usually includes to apply psychotherapeutic elements respectively

psychotherapy and social care intervention.

                                 Out-patient psychotherapy

      Out-patient psychotherapy provided by legal health insurance institutions,

respectively by appropriate substitute systems, has to meet very strict requirements

according to the so-called “psychotherapy-guidelines”. These guidelines have been

defined by representatives of the health insurance companies together with

representatives of the German medical doctors as well as the German psychotherapists,

and are constantly updated. These representatives have currently determined that only

three types of out-patient psychotherapy are provided by the insurance companies

including psychodynamic psychotherapy, psychoanalysis and behavior therapy. Slightly

different guidelines are valid for each of these therapies.

      In each case, an application for therapeutic treatment in the form of a two- or three

pages text written up by the therapist himself is required before the beginning of the first

session. If the therapist is not a medical doctor a physician has to agree to the

application. Psychotherapy is then only provided if a psychological disorder according

to ICD-10 is ascertained and if therapy success is most likely. 45 sessions of behavior
Cognitive Behavior Therapy In Europe: Germany                                            7

therapy may then officially be provided for free after five initial sessions, and up to two

further prolongations for 15 respectively 20 therapy sessions can be applied for which

are free for the patient, as well.

                                     In-patient psychotherapy

      In-Patient psychotherapy is provided in psychiatric hospitals and in clinics that are

specialized on psychotherapy and that are usually authorized as in-patient rehabilitation

clinics. The latter will be explained in more detail as this form of institution only seems

to be common in Germany.

      Psychotherapeutic in-patient treatment (traditionally called “psychosomatic

treatment”) is provided by about 200 German clinics for a period of three to twelve

weeks. The insurance member has to apply for in-patient psychotherapy at the

competent insurance agency sending in an explanation by the general practitioner or the

psychotherapist alongside his application forms. If the in-patient treatment is also

approved by the insurance agency’s physician who checks the patient’s application

material, usually a personal assessment of the insurance taker has to follow. The patient

is then referred to a rehabilitation clinic that co-operates with the insurance agency.

Treatment is free apart from a required additional payment of about € 5,-- that patients

have to pay. Depending on the clinic waiting times are between four weeks and one

year. About one quarter of the psychotherapeutic clinics is officially authorized to apply

behavior-therapeutic     treatment      concepts   and   about   one   quarter   may apply

psychodynamic oriented treatments. The other clinics adding up to hundred percent

apply various psychotherapeutic treatments.

      In the clinics usually groups of ten to fifteen patients with similar indications are

formed who observe the same or very similar treatments. The patients are generally

provided with one or two psychotherapeutic one-on-one sessions per week, and

additionally a number of other health supporting treatments like sport and physiotherapy
Cognitive Behavior Therapy In Europe: Germany                                            8

or group psychotherapy are offered. Group psychotherapy is mainly supplied by

behavior therapy clinics where patients with similar indications like for example those

with panic disorders share groups in which they participate in group therapy sessions

and other intensive training programs (e.g., Rief, 2004, in press).

      Psychiatric clinics usually only provide psychotherapy in very few cases, and if

then only a limited number of sessions. However, different measures including acute

psychiatric treatment, crisis intervention, medical drug treatment above others are

offered. On top of that many psychiatric clinics are equipped with a certain number of

in-patient psychotherapy sick-beds (usually 10-20% of all sick-beds).

III. Organizations that provide Cognitive Behavior Therapy

III.1 Deutsche Gesellschaft für Verhaltenstherapie (DGVT: German Society of

      Behavior Therapy)

      The German Society of Behavior Therapy (DGVT) was established in 1968 in

Munich as the Society for the Promotion of Behavior Therapy (GVT). Its aim was to

establish cognitive behavior therapy as a modern form of psychotherapy alike

psychoanalysis, and to organize appropriate training facilities. Just a few years later (in

1970) the Professional Organization of German Behavior Therapists (DBV) was

founded by functionary officials. This professional organization represented the interest

of trained behavior therapists and obtained the official acknowledgement of behavior

therapy for out-patient treatment as part of the medical supply system. In 1978 the two

organizations merged and the German Society of Behavior Therapy (DGVT) was

founded (Daiminger & Padberg, 2001).

      The DGVT still has the role of promoting training and further training for behavior

therapists. In addition it organizes the biannual Conference on Clinical Psychology and

Psychotherapy above some other smaller conferences, workshops and further trainings.
Cognitive Behavior Therapy In Europe: Germany                                            9

      Furthermore, the DGVT can be regarded as a health-politically active association

that strives for a psycho-social health supply of high quality. In order to meet these

demands the DGVT has been dealing with current health-political questions, has been

analyzing the health supply system, and has been obtaining experts’ opinions since its

foundation and has presented the results in public. On top of that the DGVT has made a

great effort to seek co-operation opportunities with other important organizations for

synergy effects. The DGVT was especially engaged in the psychiatry-reform of the

1970s, when the attempt to pass a psychotherapy law was first undertaken (1978). It was

furthermore engaged in establishing gender matters in psycho-social health supplies, in

the evaluation of the psychosocial supplies in the new German federal states after East-

and West-Germany had reunited in 1990, and finally in the second and successful

attempt to pass the psychotherapy law in 1998.

      At present the DGVT has 4.500 members that have been recruited from all areas

of social and medical supplies as well as from the university sector. While the DGVT

used to be a federal association up to some years ago (representative office in Tübingen

since 1981) regional organizations were founded during the past three years that hold

their own membership meetings and elect their representatives independently. These

meetings have to be held at least once a year in order to vote for the federal bodies (i.e.

the commission for training and further training, the commission for acknowledgement

matters, for quality insurance, and for editorial matters, an the ethics commission.

    Under the new law the DGVT has been running eight training institutions of its own

and another five training institutions in co-operation with partners. The DGVT has been

publishing a professional journal, the “Journal of Cognitive Behavior Therapy and

Psychosocial Practice”, one of the oldest professional periodicals in the German

speaking countries, for the past 35 years. The DGVT runs its own publishing house.
Cognitive Behavior Therapy In Europe: Germany                                           10

Furthermore, the DGVT offers training and further training for non-psychotherapists

and non-physicians as well as training that imparts specific competences.

      The DGVT permanently organizes expert conferences in order to be engaged in

gender matters, antiracism matters, and counseling matters, as well as it co-operates

with other associations and the chamber of psychotherapists.

III.2 Deutscher Fachverband für Verhaltenstherapie (DVT: The German Behavior

      Therapy Unit)

      The DVT was founded in 1992 as a succession institution of two former

organizations: the FKV and the DAVT. The main reason for the foundation of the FKV

was the new psychotherapy regulations that foresaw that behavior therapists should

participate in the out-patient supply of panel patients under certain conditions (so called

“delegation method”. While the DGVT did not accept these instructions due to

fundamental policies, the FKV welcomed the new innovation and supported it. The

latter set up training facilities for behavior therapists which enabled them to meet the

requirements that had resulted from the new regulations. The Behavior Therapy

Academy (DAVT) was then founded in 1990, and in 1995 both organizations merged

and became the DVT. Today the DVT consists of about 400 members, mainly

psychologists and physicians, and it runs 30 economically independent behavior therapy

training institutions.

      The DVT regularly organizes scientific conferences, and it is engaged in various

committee bodies that concern relevant psychotherapy matters. Furthermore, it provides

special offers for its members such as journal subscriptions at reduced price or special

conditions for insurance membership. The members of the committee bodies discuss

matters regarding the development and optimization of training standards and current

matters regarding training institutions. Research projects in the field of behavior therapy
Cognitive Behavior Therapy In Europe: Germany                                         11

are supported and the optimization of quality insurance methods and programs is aimed


III.3 Arbeitsgemeinschaft Verhaltensmodification (AVM: The Behavior

      Modification Team)

      The Behavior Modification Team expanded from a subdivision of the DGVT. It

was founded in 1985 with the purpose of developing more structured training facilities

as offered by the DGVT at that time. Neverless no professional or political differences

existed between the two organizations.

III.4 Deutsche Gesellschaft für Verhaltensmedizin (DGVM: German Society of

      Behavior Medicine)

      The DGVM was established in 1984 by Johannes C. Brengelmann who also

founded the DGVT and the EABT/EABCT. The DGVM is a professional scientific

union that is especially engaged in research of bio-psycho-social interactions that occur

together with diseases. Based on this research the DGVM aims to develop various forms

of medical behavior interventions that suit different diseases.

      In the present the DGVM has about 200 members. According to the statutes there

are five directors. The most important body meeting is the members meeting which is

held every two years. The association’s news are published in the “Journal of Behavior

Therapy”. The DGVM is a member of the International Society of Behavior Medicine

(ISBM). Free subscription of the Journal of Behavior Therapy and the International

Journal of Behavior Medicine is included in the membership.

      Since 1985 the DGVM has been organizing a scientific congress every second

year and it organized the International Congresses of Behavior Medicine of the ISBM in

in 1992 Hamburg and in 2004 in Mainz, Germany, with the support of other German
Cognitive Behavior Therapy In Europe: Germany                                          12

behavior therapy unions. For further information please visit the website www.dgvm-

III.5 Deutsche Gesellschaft für ärztliche Verhaltenstherapie (DAEVT: German

      Society for Medical Behavior Therapy)

      The DAEVT was founded in 1995 and has now about 200 members. The society’s

main purpose was to establish the concepts of behavior therapy in the German medical

support system, as the latter is politically seen of greater importance in Germany. Due to

the fact that all other behavior therapy organizations had been founded on an

interdisciplinary basis, it seemed impossible for the founders of the DAEVT to obtain

help of the other behavior therapy organizations concerning their aim to gain influence

in the medical support system.

      The association’s main office is in Munich, and the members are represented in

regional groups. The DAEVT has a board of five directors. The association is especially

engaged in cooperation activities with the most significant medical and psychological

unions in order to achieve common aims. During the recent years the association’s

major tasks included quality management of behavior therapy, further training of

physicians, offers from IFA groups, quality insurance of institutional behavior therapy

trainings, the organization of scientific conferences, the promotion of behavior therapy

related, and the publication of research results.

      In addition, the association is engaged in the modification and optimization of

training programs, in the adaptation of therapeutic regulations, in the implementation of

contracts between health insurance agencies and penal doctors’ unions. For further

information please visit the website
Cognitive Behavior Therapy In Europe: Germany                                          13

III.6 Bundesvereinigung Verhaltenstherapie im Kindes- und Jugendalter (BVKJ:

      Federal Association of Behavior Therapy for Children and Juveniles)

      The BVKJ was founded in 1998 and was exclusively initiated to represent interests

of behavior therapists who work with children and juveniles. The profession “Child- and

Juvenile Behavior Therapist” was only officially created when the Psychotherapy law

was passed in 1998.

      The BVKJ consists of 136 members and a board of eight directors, as well as each

federal state has its own representatives. The BVKJ’s main task is the development and

establishment of behavior therapy within the age group of children and juveniles, and

furthermore, the development of treatment methods, treatment concepts and guidelines

for specific indications, providing quality insurance, and further development of

psychotherapeutic supplies of children and families.

III.7 Institut für Therapieforschung (IFT: Institute for Psychotherapy Research)

      The IFT was founded by the board of the (D)GVT as a training institute of the

GVT in 1972. In 1973 it became a private and independent non-profit organization as a

consequence of several personnel and structural changes and the demand for additional

financial resources to be spent on intervention research in the field of prevention.

      One important task that resulted as a further consequence was providing structured

behavior therapy training. Various short training programs were offered, and the

institute also started to organize the “Behavior Therapy Weeks” in 1978 which first took

place in Lugano and Riva (Northern Italy) and then in Freiburg, Germany, in 1980, later

in Kiel, Germany, Luebeck, Germany, and Dresden, Germany. The Behavior Therapy

Weeks consist of several parallel one- to four-day workshops and seminars that deal

with several indications as well as related treatment forms. The workshops and seminars

are held by qualified lecturers and are directed towards employees of the social and
Cognitive Behavior Therapy In Europe: Germany                                          14

public health sector. Fifty Behavior Therapy Weeks have taken place so far and about

25.000 people have participated. The early Behavior Therapy Weeks that took place at

times when there were only few behavior therapists in Germany can also be seen as

important social events for the behavior therapists in Germany.

      Today the IFT is – apart from another renowned European research institution that

focuses on substance abuse and prevention – also an organization that provides

structured training for behavior therapy trainees which is required to become a licensed

psychotherapist. Moreover it offers additional video based training and it still organizes

the Behavior Therapy Weeks. For further information please visit the website

IV. Training, Standard Requirements, and Quality Management

      Psychotherapy is a specific form of treatment for ill people. Therefore it underlies

general and specific requirements of the German medical system: Only those may

officially provide medical measures who are officially authorized by the state which

implies that they have passed the official state exam. This group mainly includes

medical doctors. Psychotherapists without medical background (e.g., those having

graduated in psychology) are only allowed to provide psychotherapy if they are

authorized naturopathic doctors. However, a naturopathic doctor’s authorization was

easy to get during the last decades. It’s only since 1999 that the psychotherapy law has

come into force, which requires psychotherapist trainees to absolve certain training

modules and which requests psychotherapists to pass a state exam in order to become

authorized. For this reason former naturopathic doctors can no longer become


      As a consequence and in order to provide a detailed overview on the system the

psychotherapy training principles have to be described with regard to the occupations
Cognitive Behavior Therapy In Europe: Germany                                           15

backgrounds psychotherapist trainees can come from as different training modules are

required. Moreover, psychotherapy before and after the psychotherapy law has been

passed have to be distinguished from each other.

      While the occupation “medical doctor” has been regulated by the German state for

some decades, psychotherapy training for physicians is provided by the Medical

Councils as part of further education programs and is regulated by the physicians’ self-

governing bodies.

      For all other psychotherapists apart from those being medical doctors no stately

requirements existed until 1998. Until then various existing psychotherapist training

institutions created their own programs and training demands and had their own

certificates. However, psychotherapists had to meet certain external demands if they

wanted to provide psychotherapy within the health insurance supply system. These

demands were formulated in the context of psychotherapy guidelines that had been

created by the health insurance institutions together with the panel doctors’ associations.

The guidelines did not only concern behavior therapy but also psychodynamic oriented


IV.1 Training Requirements for Psychologists

IV.1.1   Before the Psychotherapy Law was passed

                   Classical Training Structures

      As already mentioned, the DGVT has been offering structured training for

psychotherapists since the beginning of the 1970s. The training structure of training that

is based on the so-called “study group model” requires that participants join regional

study groups and work out specific topics that are included in the curriculum. The

curriculum has continuously been developed and its latest version consists of 720
Cognitive Behavior Therapy In Europe: Germany                                             16

training hours including 500 hours theory, 100 hours encounter and self-development,

and 120 hours supervision.

    The theoretic training sessions include the theory and methods of psychological and

other relevant basic subjects, theory and methods of behavior therapy, and general social

framework conditions. At least half of the encounter and supervision sessions have to be

carried out with external qualified supervisors. Every trainee has to absolve three years

of full-time experience in the psychosocial field (or longer if part-time) during the

training. Moreover trainees have to carry out a total of at least eleven behavior therapy

treatments of which four have to be documented in detail. The reports are evaluated with

regard to the professional quality by a central institution. Depending on the commitment

of the trainees, the behavior therapy training can be completed in three to five years.

      A similar training concept has been conducted by the Behavioral Modification

Working Group (AVM), with the difference that external assistant professors have been

engaged to a higher extend towards the end of the training.

      Additionally to the working group model based trainings - that require very self-

organized trainees – the DGVT has been offering more structured trainings in co-

operation with the Fernuniversitaet Hagen (Germany). A number of assistant professors

have been engaged with conducting the required curricula as regional training sessions

that take place during three to five years on week-ends. At the same time the encounter

and self-development sessions are held in small groups. These programs include the

same 720 training hours.

 IV.1.1.2 Behavior Therapy Training in accordance with the psychotherapy guidelines

      In 1966 psychotherapy in Germany was officially registered as an out-patient

treatment covered by the health insurance under specific conditions. At first this

innovation only concerned psychoanalysis. Behavior therapy was included in 1984

which required that psychotherapists had to graduate from specific officially registered
Cognitive Behavior Therapy In Europe: Germany                                           17

training institutions. This newly developed training program had to include a curriculum

with a total 700 training hours, including 100 one-hour supervision units with registered

supervisors and 100 hours encounter.

                      4.1.2    Requirements of the Psychotherapy Law

    With the psychotherapy law from 1998 the profession of the psychotherapist and the

child- and juvenile therapist were legally defined. Training contents as well as the

structure of the training program of both professions are equal with regard to the basic

principles. However, unlike the training of psychotherapists the training of child-and

juvenile therapists mainly focuses on children, juveniles and their relatives. Moreover,

the latter profession requires different basic qualifications as not only psychologists and

educationists but also teachers meet the basic requirements. Child- and juvenile

psychotherapists are only allowed to treat patients younger up to 21 years, and if

required also their parents.

      The training takes three to five years, and may only be provided by training

institutions of the state or by acknowledged institutes. The training includes 4.200 hours

in total, 1.800 hours of practice, 600 hours of theory, treatment practice under

supervision (600 practice- and 130 supervision sessions), and 120 encounter hours. The

remaining 930 hours are usually used for workgroup-seminars, preparations with regard

to practical treatment, feedback, and further learning-by-doing training sessions.

       Practice sessions: Psychotherapist trainees have to work in a psychiatric

          hospital for a period of one year and in any psycho-social institution for

          another six months.

       Theory: The theoretical parts that consist of lectures, seminars and hands-on

          training sessions, include 200 hours of general psychotherapy knowledge and

          another 400 hours of specific knowledge (e.g., Kuhr, 2004). The exact contents

          are the theory and application of diagnostics, indications and planning of
Cognitive Behavior Therapy In Europe: Germany                                            18

           treatment, treatment concepts and –techniques as well as the application of

           various treatments, patient motivation, therapeutic decision making processes,

           patient-therapist relationship, treatment of children and juveniles, couples,

           families, and groups.

       Practical training and supervision: The practical training consists of 600

           one-hour treatment sessions under supervision with a minimum of six

           treatments and 150 one-hour supervision sessions of which 50 sessions have to

           be carried out one-on-one.

       Encounter: A minimum of 120 one-hour sessions of the chosen psychotherapy

           have to be consumed.

       Degree: The training finishes with an official examination by the state in the

           form of a multiple-choice test for the general training part and an oral exam for

           the specific training part. In addition the reports of two cases have to be

           handed in for evaluation.

      At the moment there are around one-hundred officially registered training

institutions (in accordance to the psychotherapist law) which are able to train around

2000 students per year. Half of them are oriented towards behavior and cognitive


4.2 Further training requirements for medical doctors

      Further respectively advanced psychotherapy training for physicians is regulated

in accordance with the physicians’ training regulations by the Regional Chambers for

Medical Doctors. Behavior therapy can be learned within a number of specific advanced

training modules. Each of these training concepts includes the purchase of behavior

therapy competences and the authorization to carry out psychotherapy treatment as a

practitioner. The training schedule usually requires that one main psychotherapy method
Cognitive Behavior Therapy In Europe: Germany                                         19

is chosen and that the relevant theoretical and practical training sessions as well as

further training sessions are consumed.

4.2 Educationists

      Since the psychotherapy law has been passed educationists can become authorized

psychotherapists by attending child- and juvenile-psychotherapy training courses (Borg-

Laufs & Per, 1999). This training equals the structure and the training contents of the

courses for psychological psychotherapists that were introduced above. However, the

contents stronger focus on competences regarding the requirements of interventions

with children and juveniles as well as with their parents and relatives. Therefore, the

trainees also have to gain working experience in institutions where children and

juveniles are psychiatrically respectively psychotherapeutically treated as part of their


      Moreover, educationists often treat adults, for example within psychotherapy for

drug addicts. In this context numerous additional training modules are offered that are

often situated in the field of behavior psychotherapy. These additional trainings

generally correspond to the usual training requirements that were introduced in

paragraph 4.1.1. However, an official authorization for adult psychotherapy by the state

cannot be attained on this way. If such an authorization is wanted, educationists have to

attain the authorization as a naturopathic doctors like psychologists had to until a few

years ago (Niemeyer & Stähler, 2000).

4.3 Training requirements for other professions

      Basic psychotherapeutical- and psycho-social competences are applied in other

professions, as well, and are therefore imparted within various training modules. These

include consulting professions like in-school consultants, schoolteachers, and job
Cognitive Behavior Therapy In Europe: Germany                                           20

coaches, as well as medical professions like nurses, diet consultants, and sport therapist.

Therefore, basic competences in educational therapy and behavior psychotherapy are

often provided within special training modules (e.g., role games, communication

techniques, social competence training, problem solving, and systematic behavior

modification). However, these training modules can only be seen as individual parts of a

curriculum and not as a whole degree.

5.    Discussion and outlook

      In Germany out-patient as well as in-patient psychotherapeutical treatment is

provided by the health system, and has been an essential part of it for the past thirty

years. For this reason different groups of psychotherapists could establish themselves

safely in public health. Psychotherapists with medical background have their own

regulated specialization, while two further professions in this field could be secured and

defined simultaneously with the Psychotherapy law of 1998.

      During the last twenty years of debates regarding the public health reform some

authors demanded that certain psychotherapeutic benefits should be excluded from the

benefit list. This demand, though, has not been translated into action, and no changes

have been planned recently. Although psychotherapeutic treatment is widely distributed

in Germany only few scientific researchers have been focusing on research in this field,

and there is little evidence concerning topics like the social benefiting of

psychotherapeutic treatment or supply and demand. However, extensive scientific

research programs have been initiated by the Federal Ministry of Research and

Technology and the Federal Ministry of Health and Social Security that are expected to

change this situation within a couple of years.

      Unlike in other European states and in psychotherapy research, within the

psychotherapy supply the specialization on certain kinds of psychotherapy is highly
Cognitive Behavior Therapy In Europe: Germany                                         21

relevant. Despite this fact, the situation is developing successfully for behavior

psychotherapists as the importance of behavior therapy has been increasing within the

psychotherapeutic sector of the health supply. This is especially notable for

psychological psychotherapists, and also – but less – significant within medical

psychotherapy and child- and juvenile psychotherapy.

      Behavior therapy is the most represented psychotherapy form at university

institutes for psychotherapy and clinical psychology, while psychoanalysis and

psychodynamic psychotherapy plays the leading role at medical university institutes for

psychotherapy. This contradiction seems to be coming to an end, as professors of

behavior therapy have recently been engaged for leading positions at medical university

institutes in order to promote the exchange of professional experience in therapy related

research projects.

      The Psychotherapy law has assigned the psychotherapy specialization, which was

mentioned above, for the training of both new psychotherapeutic professions. However,

the law also requests that basic knowledge concerning all kinds of psychotherapy is

taught as part of the training. This may have established the ground for integrated

psychotherapy training.

      Future progress and development should include several topics. While the training

requirements of medical psychotherapists are easily determined and updated internally,

changing the training demands of psychological psychotherapists and child- and

juvenile therapists is slightly more difficult. Specifically, the latter are assigned by

federal laws and can only be reformed under certain political constellations despite

permanent criticism by experts. This problem could have an effect on the demand for

psychotherapy training (currently very expensive, about 20.000 EUR), and a slight

tendency towards that can already be recorded.
Cognitive Behavior Therapy In Europe: Germany                                        22


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Cognitive Behavior Therapy In Europe: Germany                                     23

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