Despite hard training: why I love my job as a psychologist

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Henning Kaiser / dpa-tmn

If you want to work as a psychologist, you should study psychology. In most universities you need a first-class diploma for this. This is followed by theoretical and practical therapist training.

In addition to training costs from 20,000 to 40,000 euros, the costs of acquiring a cashier’s seat must be taken into account. Depending on the region, amounts will be calculated between 20,000 and 100,000 euros.

However, as of September 1, 2020, psychotherapy training has been reformed. Since then, a license to practice medicine can be obtained by passing a final exam after graduation. Training according to the old law continues in parallel until 2032 and in cases of hardship until 2035.

Almost 30 percent of all adults in Germany suffer from mental illness each year. There is a similar request for help and support from psychotherapists. In this career log, Sacha Belkadi explains that the path to a job is not easy at all. The 31-year-old psychotherapist works in Mönchengladbach and participates in the German Association of Psychotherapists (DPtV).

The road to work is long and expensive

It’s not a bed of roses, it’s training. I studied psychology at first and then added theoretical and practical training. I had to take care of this myself, get an overview of state-recognized psychiatric institutions and training centers.

Then I did training exercises during the week and theory on the weekends. After you have demonstrated 1,800 working hours in psychiatric institutions, completed at least 600 hours of supervised outpatient treatment and followed 600 hours of theoretical instruction, you can take care of your state post-examination license, i.e. license to work in the healthcare profession.

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In the end, there is also a look for a cash desk if you also want to treat people who have statutory health insurance. Depending on the region, this is a long and expensive pleasure.

University places are scarce and the course is too intense to learn

There is a high demand for studying psychology and admission is restricted in most universities. Since I did not get an A level, I applied to Nijmegen in Holland. I got lucky there. My BA was in Dutch, so I completed a language course previously. mr was in english.

The course was very intense to learn, so it requires a lot of determination. In Nijmegen he was very scientifically oriented. You have a lot to do with math, and you deal a lot with stats. The stages are tightly scheduled, you really need stamina.

Because I wanted to work in the medical profession, I had to get my university degree from Holland recognized in Germany. There is a lot of paperwork involved. Actually a good exercise, because the organizational and administrative work is part of the job.

After graduation, there is further theoretical and practical training. That was stressful, you’re looking to train yourself, they charge low – that’s after all. I no longer receive student loans and have to take care of Social Security myself.

When I finally passed my license to practice medicine, I started collecting stamps again to get to practice with a cash register. I graduated from high school when I was 19 and got accepted when I was 27. So I was one of the people who was able to solve all of that very quickly.

Ilona Kozhevnikova / Shutterstock

Great design potential and satisfying mission

People come to my clinic for a variety of reasons. Everyone has their own story, their own personality, and their own way of dealing with their mental illness. The way psychotherapy develops always depends on individual factors. As psychotherapists, we support you in tracing the causes of depression or anxiety disorders, for example.

We can help in a very tangible way, for example through techniques from behavioral psychology that can be used to break disruptive patterns. Our profession has huge creative potential and it is satisfying to support people. You can see how things change, and how those affected improve. I have great respect for what people can tolerate and handle.

Anyone who works in our profession should care about people and show them empathy. You need a lot of flexibility in terms of content: I might talk to a victim of sexual violence on Monday and the perpetrator on Wednesday. In addition to mental illness, it is often related to existential life issues. There are many answers to the question of what a good healthy life is.

You should be able to tolerate some ambiguities, as well as phases of stagnation when the progress of treatment is slower than you would like. Last but not least, it is important that you establish a balance in your job, as you hear a lot of frustrating things. Meeting friends, drawing and sports is my way of taking my mind off things. In my view, supervision is also essential to the professional development of an individual.

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We are the lowest paid class of doctors

Part of the fact is that we are the medical group that deserves the least. It’s mainly up to you how many hours per week you work and whether you take care of the administrative work yourself or hire someone to do it.

In addition to training costs from 20,000 to 40,000 euros, interested parties must take into account the waiting time after applying for a cash register seat and acquisition costs. Depending on the region, amounts from 20,000 to 100,000 euros will be charged. Transfer fees are high, especially in urban areas.

Anyone who has a practice with a cash register and works at a maximum capacity of 51 hours per week – that’s 36 sessions per week – nets about €5,500 per month after tax cuts. The average professional group 24.5 sessions per week and net 3,325 euros per month is more realistic. 24.5 sessions correspond to approximately 42 hours of work per week.

For comparison: a psychiatrist working in a clinic in North Rhine-Westphalia, for example, starts at 4,418 euros in total depending on the tariff, after his first year of work he gets a total of 4,752 euros. Then the salary increases with years of experience – and if management tasks are taken up.

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As evidenced by Sacha Belkadi’s protocol, training to become a psychotherapist is long, arduous, and expensive. However, as of September 1, 2020, psychotherapy training has been reformed.

Since then, students have been able to obtain a license to practice psychotherapy after five years of undergraduate study. The new licensing regulations state that you first study a bachelor’s degree in psychology at a university and then follow up with a master’s degree in “psychology with an emphasis in clinical psychology and psychotherapy.”

The master’s degree is then completed with a state psychotherapy exam, through which students also receive their license to practice medicine. The course is then followed by further training as part of a fully funded position in inpatient or outpatient facilities. Previously, anyone wishing to obtain a license as a psychiatrist had to study psychology or pedagogy, and only then could they begin a multi-year remedial training. At the end of the training, I received a license to practice medicine, that is, permission to treat.

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The Center for Higher Education Development (CHE) recommends checking carefully before considering whether a required course meets the new criteria. In winter 2020/2021 there was a delay in the change. Interested parties can search for information on university websites, for example, on whether professional recognition is under examination or has already been granted.

According to information from the Federal Chamber of Psychotherapists (BPtK), a change in new training is generally possible for those who are already studying. However, those who do not want the change can complete training under the old law by 2032 and in cases of hardship by 2035.

DPA / fj

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