Law Reform For Training to Become a Psychotherapist

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.

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 graduates for training in fields such as child and adolescent psychotherapy.

The bachelor program will remain multifunctional 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 allows you to continue to any master's program in psychology, including the clinical psychology and psychotherapy program, in order to take the psychotherapy licensing exam and gain admission to a training institute for any of the officially recognized psychotherapy methods. The M.A. Clinical Psychology and Psychotherapy program according to the recent law reform started in the Winter 2021/2022 semester at IPU.

You can find frequently asked questions below. The Studies and Teaching Office can answer your questions about studying and study courses.

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

Questions and Answers about the Reform

No. The bachelor's program is multifunctional. 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 date, on which the law reform for psychotherapist training took 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. Graduates from bachelor’s programs at other universities have the opportunity at IPU to make up any required credits in order to begin the master’s 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 initially 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 current master’s student, complete the training according to the pre-reform regulations. As such, there are no visible advantages to switching to the new study course from the current course.

It is possible to begin the new MA clinical psychology and psychotherapy program from the current B.Sc. Psychology program after making up all required credits according to the new regulations. This is possible at the IPU. As soon as you have acquired all necessary credits, you may begin the new master’s program. Essentially, completing the bachelor’s program according to the study and examination regulation law reform qualifies you to begin the new master’s course.

The transition regulations, including the 12-year transition period for completing a psychotherapy training program by 2032, is applicable to all students who began their psychology studies before 1 September 2020. This also applies to all students who acquired at least 60 psychology credits within a bachelor’s degree in a non-psychological field, who want to begin the MA psychology program at the IPU according to the pre-reform regulations.