"It didn't work out with my psychologist" is a statement that is often made when seeking professional help. However, the fact that there are also people who pretend to be psychologists or psychotherapists without having the necessary qualifications is less frequently heard. And yet there are such cases in Luxembourg.
"I could just hang a badge on my wall, open a practice and call myself a psychologist." Marc Stein, psychologist and president of the Luxembourg Society of Psychology SLP is furious. "Luxembourg is one of the last countries where this is the case. This is crazy." He shakes his head. His frustration is impossible to miss. Unsurprisingly, the desire to regulate the profession is cited as the SLP's first demand for this year's parliamentary elections.
Again and again, the society is, according to Stein, contacted by patients who express doubts about the necessary qualifications and the stated competences of their psychologist. He estimates that the SLP receives about eight such cases a year, "but it is certainly not just eight". And without regulation, nothing can be done, Stein emphasises. Exceptions are cases that fall into the criminal law area. "Then a complaint has to be filed."
Stricter rules for psychotherapists
For psychotherapists, the framework is stricter, says Catherine Richard, psychologist, psychotherapist and president of the Fapsylux association since July 2022. "We have the law of 2015, the Scientific Council (Conseil Scientifique, ed.) in the health sector looks at who gets the title and then they are added to the list of the College of Medicine (Collège Médical, ed.)." This list is considered an official document to check whether a psychotherapist has submitted the necessary diplomas and can really call him/herself such and can be accessed online. "You can rely on this directory to list real psychotherapists who are really allowed to practise their profession."
In addition, the law provides that "the illegal practice of psychotherapy is punishable by a fine of 1,000 to 50,000 euros and, in the case of a repeat offence, by a fine of 2,000 to 100,000 euros and imprisonment of eight days to six months, or by one of these penalties in each case."
Nevertheless, there are always people who pretend to be psychotherapists and are not. "We also keep an eye on it to report it to the college if necessary. However, it is difficult to catch all potential abuses." She recalls one situation. "A woman had contacted me to see if there was an office available at my practice. She said she was a psychotherapist but was not listed with the College."
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