Fachhochschulen - you can not join - career

The new psychotherapy courses should be located only at universities, not at colleges.

Interview from Jutta Pilgram

Almost three quarters of children and adolescent psychotherapists in Germany have studied at a university of applied sciences (FH). That should change. The colleges of applied sciences, as the FHs are officially called today, are not allowed to offer the new psychotherapy degree program. Professor Michael Borg-Laufs teaches the theory and practice of psychosocial work with children at the University of Applied Sciences Niederrhein and explains why he considers this a gross error.

SZ: What does it mean for the universities of applied sciences if they are excluded from studying psychotherapy?

Michael Borg-Laufs: This exclusion is completely incomprehensible. The crucial point is not that we could possibly lose a few students. But the fact that the strengths of the FHs in this area are completely ignored. The disadvantage is not only the FHs, but the health system and the patients.

It is said that the FHs do not have the resources to offer the challenging psychotherapy study, especially in research.

Quantitatively, the universities in research are still clearly superior to us, that's right. This is also due to the higher teaching load of our professors. Research has only been explicitly commissioned by the FHs since the Bologna reform. Since then, their research has been in a rapid upswing. Above all, practice-oriented research. And psychotherapy is an application subject. The FHs would enrich the study enormously.

In what way?

At the universities, almost all chairs in clinical psychology are staffed with behavioral therapists. The FHs teach more different therapy schools, systemic, person centered, depth psychology and psychoanalytic. The process width is thus much better ensured. We have a broad life-world-oriented, biopsychosocial understanding of mental disorder, as we are not only psychologists, but also doctors, educators, sociologists deal with it. Mental crises are also always considered in connection with the help system, with network-oriented work, while at the universities an individual-centered image of mental disorder predominates. And we have always had significantly more resources to connect with non-middle-class patients, or from more difficult social situations.

Would there be too many psychotherapy programs, even if the universities of applied sciences were allowed to participate?

Allegedly, 50 universities are in the starting blocks and could immediately offer the new study course – this number I consider something high. Conversely, of the 80 social services departments at the FHs, not all would want to install a psychotherapy degree program. There may be only a handful of FHs that are so clinically oriented that they are eligible for them – so that does not lead to a huge expansion. In addition: The numbers are far too strongly oriented on the status quo. The lack of therapists is obvious. People who suffer from depression often have to wait half a year for a treatment place.

The new study program will be organized in the same way as for medical studies and continuing medical education. Is there also conceit in the game when the FHs are excluded?

I'm afraid so. Behind closed doors, it even says that this is actually the most important argument. In the past, psychologists wanted to catch up with the medical profession. Now they have arrived there and try to keep everyone else out. You do not want to be lumped together with the dirty kids by the University of Applied Sciences. I think that's scandalous. Since the Bologna reform FH and Uni have been formally and in terms of content. 40 percent of the students in Germany are at a technical college. That's one million graduates every year – and it's not the worse ones.


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