Psychotherapy Training Law Reform

Information and questions regarding the upcoming legislation reform

The law on the reformation of psychotherapy training has been passed, and the regulation for medical licensure is being prepared. Here we will answer your questions regarding the pending changes to study courses and training.

The psychotherapy profession is protected by law, and its training is regulated according to the commonly called Psychotherapist Law (PsychThG) from 1998. At this point in time, a reform to this law has been passed, and a new medical licensure act is on the way. The main reason for reforming this law is the necessary adjustment to the qualifications of psychotherapists, which were made unclear due to the inclusion of the Bachelor-Master-system. A second important reason are the current training conditions for psychotherapists, who generally earn very little for their practical work, which is insufficient to finance the cost of living.

It should be made clear through the new version of the law that “patients who require a psychotherapeutic treatment should have qualified, patient-oriented, needs-based, and comprehensive psychotherapeutic care at the current state of scientific knowledge made available to them”. We can assure all IPU students of a seamless path to approbation.

Updates to the Study Program and Postgraduate Training

The new law incorporates changes to the requirements for the psychotherapist training. As such, both a bachelor’s and master’s degree in psychology will be necessary for approbation and to begin subsequent training. In addition, completing the training through direct study will be the only option for becoming a psychotherapist. This is also evident in the job title, which with exception for doctors, will be “Psychotherapist”. Other degrees will no longer qualify for trainings in fields such as child and adolescent psychotherapy.

The bachelor program will remain polyvalent and will keep the name "psychology". At IPU it will start in the Winter 2020/2021 semester and will still be called B.Sc. PsychologiePLUS. This program enables you to pursue any master's degree in psychology that allows for subsequent licensing and admission to a recognized training institute, including the M.A. Clinical Psychology and Psychotherapy program. If you are already enrolled in the IPU bachelor of psychology program, you will be able to adopt the new study and examination regulations of the B.Sc. PsychologiePLUS program starting in the Winter 2020/21 semester.

The M.A. Clinical Psychology and Psychotherapy program according to the recent law reform will begin in the Winter 2021/2022 semester at IPU, the Bachelor Program one year earlier in Winter 2020/2021 semester. You are welcome to apply to this program if you have earned a bachelor’s degree according to the guidelines of the new law.  Beginning the new master's program from other non-psychology bachelors programs will not be possible. The pre-reform regulations apply to all students who began their studies before September 2020. They have the possibility to complete the established M.A. Psychology degree with a clinical focus, which will continue to be offered for the time being. The admissions requirements can be found on the program's webpage and will remain unaltered. Graduates of the master's program will have the ability to complete the training to become a psychological psychotherapist according to the previous law until 2032 (in exceptional cases, until 2035).  

Your Questions on the Law Reform

On this page we will provide information regarding open questions and the current state of the law reform. In order to best prepare you for the upcoming changes, we have put together three examples that represent situations, in which you may currently find yourself. Whether you are currently a bachelor student or graduate in the field of psychology, a psychology master student, or even a bachelor student in a course with psychological elements: Here you can read what things you need to consider for your individual case. In addition, we will answer your questions and continually update the answers. Please use the form below in order to add new questions. We will do our best to answer promptly.

Information for all those interested in studying in English: The master's program according to the law reform will only be offered in German. If you are interested in our English-language master's program, please visit the program page. There you will find the contact details of the Studies and Teaching Office.

Legal Text as PDF (As of: 22 November 2019)
Regulations on the licensing of psychotherapists (As of: 12 March 2020)

Possible Situations

The most important change to the Psychology master course as a result of the reform is the prospective licensing exam which concludes the study course. In addition, there are new requirements for acquiring a master’s degree in Psychology. These pertain to proficiency in the context of lectures as well as internships. In order to catch up on these requirements when switching from the current masters to the new masters, you will incur extra time. Because the new master will begin in the 2021/2022 winter semester for the first time, you would not have the possibility to begin in a higher semester, and would require an extra year, even if you could apply already completed credits. Therefore, according to current information, the advantage of such a switch is questionable.

Based on the current masters degree, you are equally entitled to complete the training to become a psychotherapist at any German training institute during the 12-year transition period as dictated by the new law (or 15 years in “cases of hardship”). The new master’s degree results in an approbation, which allows treatment of patients only as part of subsequent training. Only after completion of this training are you permitted to treat patients in your own practice.

The length of practical training will not change drastically according to the new law. Notably, the largest block of time during the analytical psychotherapy training is spent in supervised practice, theoretical seminars, etc. In all likelihood, the changes to the curriculum will not result in significant time saving.

Finally, financing specifications during the new training are not defined in the wording of the law, and it is not yet determinable whether you will be able to account for a higher income. The law stipulates a minimum wage of 1,000€ per month for the first year of the existing full-time, practical psychotherapy training, through which the current financial situation should be improved. This payment will remain in effect for the duration of the abovementioned transition period.

If you are currently in the process of completing your bachelor’s program, you still have the possibility to begin a master’s program in psychology according to the current regulations during the Winter 2020/2021 semester. You can begin the new master’s program in Clinical Psychology and Psychotherapy during the Winter 2021/2022 semester, as long as you have met the relevant legal requirements. In Berlin, the review of these legal requirements will be in the hands of the State Office for Health and Social Affairs, and not the Universities. We do not currently recommend starting the master's program according to the new regulations with a bachelor's degree according to the previous regulations. 

IPU ensures a seamless transition if you switch to the newly established study and examination regulations during your bachelor studies in order to meet all credit requirements. However, you also have the possibility to study the master’s program according to the previously established regulations. In this case, you will face no additional credit requirements or foreseen disadvantages. As described in situation 1, you can still complete equivalent training at no disadvantage until the end of the 12-year transition period.

According to current jurisdiction, a master’s degree in psychology is necessary to qualify for subsequent psychotherapy training.This was decided by the Federal Administrative Court in Leipzig. This decision was made in favor of a student who complained that there was no explicit requirement for consecutive bachelor and master programs in the legislative text. According to this, you have the possibility to begin a master’s program in psychology following a bachelor’s program that is not purely psychological in nature. For example, this concerns subjects such as educational sciences, sociology, social work, or other similar fields. At IPU, you must have completed a total of 60 credits in the field of psychology in order to be admitted to the psychology master’s program. These can also be completed through bridge courses. This opportunity is open to you at IPU if you began your studies before the Winter 2020/2021 semester. Bridge courses must be completed before the start of the Master's programme. We ask you to apply early so that admission requirements can be clarified and you can complete possible bridge courses before the start of your studies.

Questions and Answers about the Reform

No. The bachelor will be polyvalent designed. This means that content will be taught that will prepare you for both a master’s in clinical psychology and psychotherapy as well as a master’s in psychology with a different focus. You will face the decision to become a psychotherapist when applying for a position in a master’s program.


The new psychotherapy training at a glance:

  • Three-year bachelor program with a successive two-year psychotherapy master’s program
  • Licensing according to currently established state exam at the end of the study program (as qualification for patient treatment in the context of subsequent training)
  • Training as a psychotherapist in an inpatient or outpatient facility
  • After completing the training: Entry in the medical registry and the possibility to apply for admission to the public health insurance outpatient care system

According to the reform, the training to become a psychotherapist will begin while still studying. The master’s in psychotherapy will be concluded with a licensing exam, which qualifies the graduate for practical treatment of patients during the subsequent training. During the training, you will select a psychotherapy specialization (e. g., psychoanalysis, psychodynamic psychotherapy, behavioral therapy). Additionally, in choosing a training program, the master’s graduate must decide whether to treat primarily adults or children and adolescents. The job title will however be simplified to “Psychotherapist“. Medical doctors can list themselves as medical psychotherapists.

The status of training intern during the first practical inpatient context will be abolished by the law reform. In the future, training candidates will be paid as employees during this element of training, but as of now, there are no further details regarding payment. Training institutes will also eventually be required to pay the trainee at least 40% of health insurance fees, which they are paid for the treatment of patients.

1 September 2020 is the currently planned date, on which the law reform for psychotherapist training will take effect.


Yes. There will be a transition period, during which the training to become a psychological psychotherapist according to the current policy can still be completed. As compensation, it was decided that psychotherapists in training (PiA) must be paid at least 1,000€ per month during the 1,200-hour practical element of training (PsychoThG §2 Abs. 2 Nr. 1). This payment applies to full-time training and is reduced accordingly for part-time.

The new clinical psychology and psychotherapy study program will contain a multi-functional bachelor’s program that will strongly resemble the current bachelor’s program. However, one must also complete all courses according to the legal requirements before admission to the clinical psychology and psychotherapy master’s program is possible. These requirements will be reviewed by the State Office for Health and Social Affairs. At IPU, current bachelor students will have the ability to switch into the new program.

All previous study achievements will be accounted for by the future clinical psychology and psychotherapy study course. Because the master’s program at IPU already has a clinical focus, IPU students are well prepared for the law reform.

The clinical psychology and psychotherapy master’s program will only be offered as a full-time course.

Such a switch is theoretically possible but does not make much sense. Initially, it is not practical, since courses from the bachelor’s and master’s psychotherapy programs would need to be caught up. These additional requirements are omitted if you, as a master student in the current program, continue to complete the current training. As such, there are no visible advantages to switching to the new study course from the current course.

It is presumably possible to begin studying in the Clinical Psychology and Psychotherapy master’s program after completing the current bachelor’s program in psychology, but it is not recommended. The new law includes concrete credit requirements, which must be completed and reviewed by state agencies. It is therefore advisable to complete your bachelor studies according to the newly established study and examination regulations.

Theoretically yes, but it is not recommended. By switching, you would need to complete extra courses, which would increase your workload, but not be particularly advantageous in completing the subsequent training. During the 12-year transition period (15 years in “cases of hardship”), you can still complete the psychotherapy training with a master’s degree in all forms of psychology. There seem to be no disadvantages in comparison to the new law.

The transition regulations and included 12-year transition period for completing the psychotherapy training apply to all students who began their psychology studies before 1 September 2020. The transition period also applies to those who would like to begin the IPU master's of psychology program according to the "old" regulations, who have earned a bachelor's degree other than psychology and who have completed the prerequisite 60 ECTS in psychology courses.

Please read the following before using the contact form

1. Please read through the provided example situations and the previous questions on this page before using the contact form to ask a question.
2. Please only use this contact form for questions regarding the law reform.

Ihre Fragen zum Reformgesetz

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