Against a shortage of therapists – psychological training is moving to public universities

Karin Fidler, president of the State Association for Psychiatric Treatment, said: NÖN interview Recently “It's a shame that Sigmund Freud's home state doesn't have public training in psychotherapy.” Now the central government wants to change that.

Although the training was previously only completed outside of a university or at private universities such as Vienna's Sigmund Freud University or St. Bolten's Bertha von Suttner University, the course will be transferred to public universities in the future.

From 2026, 500 master study places will be offered regionally throughout Austria. It is not yet clear where they will be. This is provided for in an amendment to the Psychotherapy Act which was examined on Thursday. The aim of the reform is to significantly expand the range of psychotherapy and make access to training more affordable. It currently costs between 25,000 and 50,000 euros.

This is because therapists are in high demand

Health Minister Johannes Rauch (Green) emphasized that in the current crisis period, the need for psychotherapy is very high. However, among existing psychotherapists, only half of the people seeking psychiatric treatment can be cared for. “This is unacceptable.” The planned reform aims to train more specialists in this area and improve psychotherapy in Austria.

Specifically, a two-year master's degree in psychotherapy is to be offered at public universities in the near future, although the exact design remains within the universities' autonomy. A prerequisite for access to a Master's degree in psychotherapy at universities – similar to the current preparatory course – is a related subject such as psychology, medicine or educational science. The amendment was made to allow public universities to run their own undergraduate programs in psychotherapy if they so desired.

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Costs will continue to rise in the future

There will still be costs for training in the future, but according to Education Minister Martin Polashek, part of the previous specialist knowledge will be incorporated into general studies, making it cheaper overall.

Long transition periods are planned

The amendment provides for longer transition periods for changing the system: the preparatory course from the existing training course can be completed by the end of September 2030, and the specialist course by 2038.

In addition to new university training, the amendment also aims to legally host online therapies. According to Rach, these have helped many people, especially after the corona pandemic.

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