Third International Conference on the Teaching of Psychology
Ype H. Poortinga (Emeritus), Tilburg University, Netherlands & University of Leuven, Belgium

Presentation (ppt)


About 10 years ago, Ingrid Lunt, at the time President of the European Federation of Psychologists Associations (EFPA), took the initiative for developing a Diploma or Certificate for European psychologists. The first phase of the resulting project resulted in a report by Lunt and colleagues: "EuroPsyT: A framework for education and training for psychologists in Europe". This report proposed a set of academic and professional standards required for independent practice as a psychologist. The second phase reported in "EuroPsy - the European Certificate in Psychology" described in more detail what the standards should entail for the academic curriculum, for professional training, and for ethical conduct. The core of the third phase, currently in progress, is a set of trial implementations of the certification procedure in some EU countries. The reports can be found on the website of the European Federation of Psychologists Associations ( Two issues of the European Psychologist (Vol. 7, 3, 2002 and Vol. 10, 2, 2005) contain background information.

Although details may still change, the major principles are now well-established. The main conditions for the awarding of the proposed Certificate to a person will be: (i) completion of a five-year curriculum in psychology (300 ECTS), (ii) one year of supervised training, and (iii) endorsement of the professional code of ethics in the country of practice as well as the EFPA meta-code. The Certificate will probably have a validity of 7 years; renewal will depend on evidence showing sufficient work experience and continuing professional development. The Certificate is meant to be a basic diploma. Unsupervised practice is limited to the field of application at which education and training were directed and specialist interventions require further training.

The Certificate has already started to influence education and training in psychology in the EU. For example, in the Netherlands the requirements for the Certificate have been a major argument in negotiations with the government about extending the academic curriculum in psychology from four to five years. The Certificate is likely to have a variety of effects on the curriculum when introduced Europe wide. There are minimum and maximum limits for the number of ECTS to be obtained for various subject areas. For example, in the master phase between 15 and 30 ECTS have to be gained from a research project or thesis, and also between 15 to 30 ECTS from an internship. It is likely that this will lead to students in Spain having to write a thesis, which so far has not been part of the curriculum.

It has been argued that (i) the Certificate will lower standards in countries with already well developed regulations; (ii) that uniform requirements are inappropriate given the cultural diversity of Europe, (iii) that uniform standards cannot fit all areas of praxis, or (iv) that the imposed uniformity may impede further development of psychology. However, such arguments have been few; the main difficulty has been to find a balance between the public interest of quality services without making too high demands on individual psychologists.

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