Psychotherapy Act

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The Psychotherapy Act, which came into force in 1991  - the full name of the Federal Act of 7 June 1990 on the Practice of Psychotherapy (Psychotherapy Act)  - regulates the practice of psychotherapy in Austria .


Psychotherapy is defined in the law as "learned, comprehensive, conscious and planned treatment of psychosocial or psychosomatic behavior disorders and states of suffering". This treatment should be done:

  • "With scientific-psychotherapeutic methods",
  • “In an interaction between one or more patients and one or more psychotherapists” and
  • "With the aim of alleviating or eliminating existing symptoms, changing disrupted behaviors and attitudes and promoting the maturation, development and health of those treated."

As a result, psychotherapy in Austria as an independent form of medical treatment is fully equated with medicine.

Professional authorization, professional duties

All those who are entitled to exercise their profession independently (e.g. in private practice) are:

  • have completed the psychotherapeutic training in full,
  • are authorized,
  • have reached the age of 28,
  • have proven their health suitability and trustworthiness and
  • have been entered in the list of psychotherapists of the responsible Federal Ministry after hearing the Psychotherapy Advisory Board.

The job title psychotherapist or psychotherapist is those reserved to persons meeting the above criteria. Any designation that is suitable to simulate authorization is prohibited and made a criminal offense. One of the professional duties is to “practice the profession to the best of my knowledge and belief and taking into account the development of scientific knowledge.” The psychotherapist must undergo regular further training. He may only act with the express consent of the patient and must provide information about the "type, scope and remuneration". The therapist must also limit himself to those methods in which “he has demonstrably acquired sufficient knowledge and experience”. And he is bound to absolute secrecy.


The training consists of two parts that cannot be completed in parallel. First, a psychotherapeutic propaedeutic course must be completed, which can usually be achieved in two years while working. The preparatory course is a general introduction and consists of the same content for all students. Before the second phase of study - the psychotherapeutic subject specifics - the student has to decide on a specific psychotherapeutic school, apply for admission and be admitted. It takes at least three years to complete the specialty, but usually five to seven years.


Requirements for being admitted to the training are either

  • a source occupation or
  • Admission to the preparatory course or
  • University entrance qualification plus admission to the subject.

The psychotherapeutic specialty may only be completed by those who are self-sufficient and have reached the age of 24.

Psychotherapeutic propaedeutic course

There are currently around 20 training institutions approved for the psychotherapeutic propaedeutic course throughout Austria , as well as training associations, university courses and the Baccalaureate course at the Sigmund Freud University in Vienna .

The legislature has precisely defined the content of the preparatory course:

  • In the theoretical part of at least 765 hours, knowledge of various specialist areas is imparted, for example the problem history of the various psychotherapeutic schools, psychological diagnostics , methodology in research and science, ethics , psychiatry or the legal basis.
  • The practical part comprises at least 550 hours, of which:
    • 50 hours of individual or group self-awareness
    • 480 hours of internship in dealing with behavioral or suffering people in a health or social service facility under the professional guidance and supervision of the head or a deputy including
    • 20 hours of accompanying participation in an internship supervision

Depending on the provider, the preparatory course ends with an examination or a written paper.

Psychotherapeutic specialist knowledge

While the preparatory course conveys largely similar learning content and has strong theoretical connotations, the subject-specific course essentially involves practical work - school-specific - with patients. The subject must be completed in one of 23 recognized psychotherapeutic directions. A total of 1900 hours must be completed within the chosen school:

  • The theoretical part comprises at least 300 hours, including a. Theory of personality development, pathology and treatment techniques, personality and interaction theories, as well as working groups to discuss psychotherapeutic literature.
  • The practical part of at least 1600 hours includes:
    • 200 hours of teaching therapy, training analysis, individual or group self-awareness,
    • 600 hours of psychotherapeutic work with behavioral or suffering people,
    • 120 hours of accompanying supervision,
    • 550 hours of internship with behavioral and suffering people, of which at least 150 hours are clinical,
    • 30 hours of internship supervision
    • as well as 100 hours for a focus formation depending on the provider.

References and comments

  1. Psychotherapy Act
  2. ie there is no guardianship
  3. Tbc would be a reason for exclusion because of the risk of infection, HIV / AIDS, however, not.
  4. Must be proven by an extract from the criminal record.
  5. The exact name of this federal ministry changes regularly, so the name is not used here. As a rule, the responsibility lies with the Minister of Health.
  6. each with a completed degree or completed training: nurse, doctor, psychologist, pedagogue, philosopher, theologian, journalism and communication scientist, social worker, marriage and family counselor, music therapist
  7. "due to its suitability after obtaining a corresponding report from the psychotherapy advisory board from the Federal Chancellor with notification to complete the psychotherapeutic preparatory course"
  8. ↑ Matriculation examination or university entrance qualification examination or nostrified, equivalent degree abroad
  9. "due to its suitability after obtaining a corresponding report from the psychotherapy advisory board from the Federal Chancellor with notification to complete the psychotherapeutic specialist knowledge"
  10. A current list of all approved therapies and all training centers can be found in the database of the Ministry of Health (see web link at the bottom of this page).

Web links