Situation in Belgium – updated as per October 2017:

June 2017: from September 1st: law on psychology, special pedagogy and psychotherapy: only Masters Clincal Psychology, Masters Special pedagogy and GP’s can study and practice psychotherapy; existing and practising psychotherapists can’t work any longer as autonomous and must work under supervision.

September 2017: Belgian NAO-NUO (Belgian Association for Psychotherapy) starts procedure in Constitutional Court (concerning the existing psychotherapists)

December 2017: the Constitutional Court decides a delay on the application of the law for existing and practising psychotherapist

February 2017: the Constitutional Court suspends article 11 and 12 of the law: existing and practising psychotherapist on September 1st 2017 (regardless their basic diploma, even without Bachelor) can continu as an autonomous and without any transitional condition!: they will have to prove their existance on September 1st 2017 by 2018 (they still don’t know how we have to prove it… probably just by our VAT number)

Students who finished their 1st year of Prof. Bachelor in June 2017 (even not specific in Human Sciense, so an accountant will do also…); can still enter a psychotherapy training (min. 70 ECTS), during their study or after their Prof. Bachelor (their psychotherpay study can anly take place in an academy in association with college or university; no more private academies). They will have to exercise their profession ‘not autonomous’ (patients have to be send by the GP’s, or psychologists) and under supervision.

Students who have started their Prof. Bachelor in September 2017, can’t enter a psychotherapy training anymore (they can, but they will not be recognised and they can not practice psychotherapy). Only Masters clinical psychologist, special pedagogy and GP’s will be allowed in training.

Legislation on psychotherapy in Belgium – status February 2014

Until now, there was no legislation concerning psychotherapy, and besides Medical Doctors all other psychotherapists were in fact practicing illegaly.

Now a law has been voted in the Parliament (April 2014) and must be fully applicable latest September 2016.

Presently, the situation has to be considered as a transition period (many questions but few answers yet).

The law defines psychotherapy as the usual accomplishment of autonomous acts and psychotherapeutic interventions aiming at eliminating or at reducing the psychic difficulties, conflicts or disorders of an individual person or a group of persons considered as a system including this individual person…

The Ministry of Health will deliver an official agreement (the title is now protected) in order to practice (the practice is also protected).
The law defines a general frame about practice and training of psychotherapy.

The future Federal Council for Psychotherapy will advise the Minister on the precise requirements for training and practice, on the psychotherapeutic modalities to be accepted, on continuous development and on grandparenting rules (most probably by the end of this year).

Minimal training required by Law:

  1. Bachelor Degree in health, psychology, educational or social sciences, being at least 180 ECTS.
  2. having acquired the basic notions of psychology in a University or High School
    These notions consist of: general psychology/ psychiatry and psychopathology/ psychopharmacology/ psychodiagnostic/ introduction to main psychotherapeutic orientations/ scope of Mental Health sector.
  3. after completion of 1 and 2, a specific training in psychotherapy of at least 70 ECTS during 4 years in an accredited training institute (university or private), consisting of at least 500 hours of theory and at least 1600 hours of supervised clinical practice.

Modalities: the law recognizes four main references/domains:

  • psychoanalytic and psychodynamic oriented psychotherapies;
  • behavioral and cognitive oriented psychotherapies;
  • systemic and family oriented psychotherapies;
  • humanistic, person-centered and experiential psychotherapies.

Other modalities may be accepted later on by the Federal Council.

Requirements for Self-experience are not mentionned in the law but will be added specifically for each modality according to the opinion of the Federal Council.

The Federal Council will be composed of 8 members of each of the four main references plus two psychiatrists (a total of 34 members).

The law points out the importance of a Code of Ethics and the necessity of collaborating with other professions of the mental Health sector (eg. medical doctors).

We are waiting now for a Federal Government after the elections we had, last May.
This Federal Government has to appoint a Federal Minister of Health, whom will set up the Federal Council for Psychotherapy.

Charles Sasse (president) and Philippe Vrancken (vice-president)


Psychotherapists are required to engage in extensive personal psychotherapy during their training which is up to seven years duration. Psychotherapists usually have a first degree followed by a professional, highly specialised, theoretical and clinical training which includes research methodology and continuous professional development. The EAP promotes the recognition of common standards of training throughout Europe, and will ensure their mobility across member states.