Psychotherapy in Cyprus presents a great problem given that there is no legal protection or regulating body. The case now in Cyprus, is that anyone with any sort of qualifications (even dubious ones) can call themselves psychotherapist and can practice psychotherapy. Additionally, there are individuals in Cyprus who teach psychotherapy to anyone interested (prior knowledge or degree in psychology is not needed and such individuals can be lawyers, accountants, fishermen etc). Such “schools” do not fall under any specific law and there are no regulations regarding their existence or function. These “schools” also market themselves as an alternative for individuals wanting to practice psychology but who do not meet the criteria set forth by the 2004 law protecting the profession of applied psychology. Interestingly, in Europe receiving psychotherapy training is considered to be additional training after psychology qualifications are met, whereas in Cyprus psychotherapy training is considered an alternative to psychology training.
Moreover, individuals undergoing this psychotherapy training do not have supervised practical training other than conducting psychotherapy on other individuals in the programs. This presents serious ethical concerns. Individuals who graduated from such “schools” have gone on to open private offices & provide psychological services not limited to psychotherapy.
Another problem Cyprus faced with individuals calling themselves psychotherapists who do not have any psychology training is that they present that psychologists (e.g. clinical or counseling psychologist even if they have doctoral level training from countries such as the US & UK which include psychotherapy as part of their training) are not therapists unless they receive specific psychotherapy training outside of their academic training and as such cannot conduct therapy with clients. Some individuals have even written articles stating this in national newspapers.
An additional problem Cyprus faces is that numerous individuals who trained as psychotherapists and who do not have any psychology training have organized themselves and moved politically in an attempt to have the government and parliament overthrow the law protecting the profession of psychologists. The Cyprus Psychological Association has worked very hard to educate government officials including the Minister of Health regarding the issues of psychology and why the law passed in 2004 that protects the profession of psychology and is based on the criteria of the EuroPsy should not be abandoned. However, these individuals are numerous and unfortunately politicians look at numbers which makes our job extremely difficult.
As of today, it remains unclear what the future of psychology and the law will be in Cyprus, let alone the field of psychotherapy. Although the Cyprus law protecting the profession of psychology includes psychotherapy as one of the tasks a psychologist performs, it does not protect the term psychotherapy from use by anyone else. We welcome any information or help from any of the other countries who may have been able to resolve such issues. Especially, we would be interested in learning how other countries attempt or have been able to protect the title and practice of psychotherapy. Thank you
Maria Karekla, Ph.D.
The text above is an excerpt from the paper "Psychotherapy in Europe – Disease Management Strategies for Depression. National Concepts of Psychotherapeutic Care".
You can download the paper here.