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Psychiatrist (from the Greek ψυχή psychē "soul, life" and ἰατρός iatros "doctor") has been a doctor in Germany since 1994 with further training in psychiatric and psychotherapeutic specialist training . As such, he is engaged in the medical diagnosis , treatment and research of mental disorders .


Psychiatrists and psychotherapists treat mental disorders . Among laypeople, the professional titles psychotherapist, psychologist and psychiatrist are often incorrectly equated and used synonymously . However, these occupational groups differ significantly in terms of training and occupational profile.

Difference between psychiatrist, psychotherapist and psychologist in Germany

  • Psychologists are people who have successfully completed a degree in psychology with a diploma or master’s degree. The professional titles psychologist, graduate psychologist and various “hyphenated psychologists” (e.g. social psychologist) have been protected in Germany since 1985. Psychologists with an academic degree must complete their studies as a psychotherapist and acquire a license to practice medicine if they are medical psychotherapy in accordance with Want to exercise the Psychotherapists Act. However, you can also work in numerous other professional fields (such as in business, in human resources , in research, as a traffic psychologist or in advice centers ).

Earlier or expiring job titles

A historical term for the profession was psychiatrist , in Germany the term neurologist was later created . The specialist in neurology and psychiatry was initially abolished in 1988. When the new advanced training regulations for doctors came into force in 1989, the following transitional provisions applied: Anyone who used the designation “psychiatrist” or “doctor for psychiatry” or “doctor for neurology and psychiatry” could keep them. Upon request, he was given the right to use the specialist title “Specialist for psychiatry and psychotherapy” if he was allowed to use the additional title “Psychotherapy”, which required further training. In 1992 the specialist in neurology and psychiatry was reintroduced.

Anyone with the specialist title for “child and adolescent psychiatry” and the additional title “psychotherapy” received the right to use the specialist title “child and adolescent psychiatry and psychotherapy” upon request. Anyone who had the sub-specialization designation child neurology and psychiatry in connection with the specialist designation neurology and psychiatry or the specialist designation paediatrics and also the designation specialist for psychotherapy was given the right to use the designation "specialist for child and adolescent psychiatry and psychotherapy" upon application .

Anyone who had the additional designation “psychoanalysis” or “psychotherapy” when the continuing education regulations came into force could retain them. Upon application, he was given the right to use the designation “Specialist in Psychotherapeutic Medicine” if, after acquiring the additional qualification, he had mainly performed psychotherapy for a period of at least five years.

Forensic psychiatry

Forensic psychiatry is a branch of psychiatry like forensic medicine , which deals with the border area between psychiatry and law. This includes legal questions such as assessing the criminal responsibility of criminals, but also expert opinions with regard to placement in closed institutions or the care of (presumably) mentally ill people.

Known psychiatrists

(Sorted by year of birth)

Psychiatrists who became known in another context

  • Radovan Karadžić (* 1945; was sentenced to 40 years in prison for genocide by the UN war crimes tribunal in The Hague)
  • John Karl Friedrich Rittmeister (1898–1943), executed in the Berlin-Plötzensee prison , as the only German psychiatrist and therapist because of his active resistance against the National Socialists
  • Hoimar von Ditfurth (1921–1989), professor of psychiatry and television journalist ( cross-sections with the physicist Volker Arzt), author of numerous popular science bestsellers (in the beginning there was hydrogen, among other things)


  • Johannes Pantel: Neurology, Psychiatry and Internal Medicine. Course and dynamics of a historical dispute. In: Würzburger medical history reports , Volume 11, 1993, pp. 77-99.
  • Theodor Kirchhoff (ed.): German insane doctors. Individual images of their life and work. Edited with the support of the German Research Institute for Psychiatry in Munich and numerous employees. 2 volumes. Berlin 1921-1924.
  • Kurt Kolle (Ed.): Great neurologists. 3 volumes. Stuttgart: Thieme 1956–1963; 2nd edition there 1970.
  • Karl Seidel , HAF Schulze, Gerhard Göllnitz , Hans Szewczyk (eds.): Neurology and psychiatry including child neuropsychiatry and judicial psychiatry. Student textbook. Berlin 1977; 4th edition, ibid. 1988.

Web links

Commons : Psychiatrist  - Collection of pictures, videos and audio files
Wiktionary: Psychiatrist  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. See also Kirsten von Sydow: The image of psychologists, psychotherapists and psychiatrists in public. A systematic research overview. In: Psychotherapist. Volume 52, 2007, pp. 322-333.
  2. Christian Heinrich: Profession special: Psychiatry: Attention in chord . In: Die Zeit (Ed.): Die Zeit Online . No. June 24 , 2014 ( [accessed June 10, 2018]).
  3. Guideline of the Federal Joint Committee on the Implementation of Psychotherapy (Psychotherapy Guideline). Retrieved March 31, 2014.
  4. Psychotherapists Act of the Federal Republic of Germany Accessed on March 31, 2014.
  5. a b BDP - FAQ: Title recognition and professional practice in Germany. December 30, 2008, accessed June 17, 2019 .
  6. ^ Professional Association of German Psychologists eV: History and milestones of the BDP. Retrieved June 7, 2019 .
  7. Career opportunity check psychologist. Education and Knowledge, Nuremberg 1999, ISBN 3-8214-8244-3 .
  8. Further training regulations from ( Memento of the original of October 10, 2013 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link has been inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. here the Berlin Medical Association. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /