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Will there be fewer psychotherapists?

The government is working on a draft amendment to the Health Minister's regulation on specializations in fields applicable to health care. The community of psychiatrists and psychotherapists is very negative about the direction of the ongoing work, fearing that the proposed changes will worsen patients' access to therapy and make therapy more expensive. Centers training therapists currently leave about 1,000 specialists each year, and the Health Minister wants to reduce the number to 100. The Health Minister will restrict patients' access to therapy and destroy the achievements of therapeutic thought developed in Poland for more than 30 years. 

Image by Ulrike Mai from Pixabay

Wanting to stop the ongoing work, the therapists wrote an open letter to Minister Niedzielski. More than 7,000 Polish therapists have put their signatures under it. The draft regulation indicates that specialization in psychotherapy, culminating in a state exam, will be available to those who have completed either a medical degree or a master's degree in nursing, psychology, pedagogy, sociology or resocialization. It is unclear why the draft regulation no longer includes admission to specialization in psychotherapy for paramedics or physiotherapists.

In parallel, the Health Ministry has published draft amendments to the Mental Health Law. They elaborate on the definition of a psychotherapist and psychotherapy. The former is to be a person who meets all the conditions specified for a specialist certified as a psychotherapist, as referred to in the regulations on guaranteed services in the field of psychiatric care and addiction treatment issued on the basis of Article 31d of the Act of August 27, 2004 on health care services financed from public funds, or a person who is a specialist in child and adolescent psychotherapy. Psychotherapy, according to the proposed amendments, is a method of treating mental and somatic disorders, requiring the patient's cooperation and commitment, as well as the willingness and ability to establish a special interpersonal relationship with the psychotherapist, aimed at removing health disorders by changing ways of experiencing, cognition and behavior. In the opinion of the Polish Council for Psychotherapy, the Minister of Health, through the new regulations, will destroy the work and achievements of numerous training providers in psychotherapy. Today, training in psychotherapy is provided in private centers, associations, foundations with long traditions and universities. After the change, a large part of these courses will have to end.