Psychotherapy, Couseling and Trauma treatment Zürich
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What is psychotherapy ?

How do I know when a theapist is qualified ?

What is delegated psychotherapy ?

What portion of the psychotherapy costs does the basic health Insurance cover ?

Can all medical doctors delegate psychotherapy ?

What’s the difference in Switzerland between a psychotherapist,  a psychologist and a psychiatrist ?

What should be considered when looking for a psychotherapist ?


What is Psychotherapy ?

Psychotherapy is the treatment  of specific forms of  mental illness, and psychological  disturbances  that cause emotional suffering and or difficulty in coping with everyday situations such as those encountered at home, in relationships or at work. It is the application of a large range of methods and techniques mostly based on communication in dialogue, usually through speaking but also through the use of  virtually any other expressive medium, such as writing, painting, drawing, and body contact or movement. The ultimate goal is to  reduce or eliminate  the suffering through changes of perception and when necessary changes in behavior. The effectiveness of the therapy is always dependent upon the interaction between the trained therapist and the  client.

Psychotherapy may also be used as a method for stimulating and supporting the development of the personality and achieving personal goals that may not be associated a psychological disturbance or with the relief of emotional suffering.

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How do I know when a therapist is qualified ?

In  the kanton Zürich as well as in at least 18 other kantons, it’s determined by law who may call themselves a “psychotherapist” and who may not. A person who uses the title without a practice permit issued by the kanton’s health department is liable for arrest.

The legal regulation helps to maintain  high standards of health service in the psychotherapy profession. The various professional organizations for psychotherapists also contribute to the control of this standard through the rigid control of the qualifications of their members. The recognition by the professional organizations are designated by certain letters following the title of the psychotherapist and are as follow:

PsychotherapeutIn SPV, a psychotherapist with certification by the kanton and who is  a member of the  Swiss Association for Psychotherapists.

PsychotherapeutIn FSP, a psychotherapist with certification by the kanton and who is  a member of the Federation of Swiss Psychologists.

PsychotherapeutIn SBAP, a psychotherapist with certification by the kanton and who is  a member of the Professional Organization of Applied Psychologists

PsychotherapeutIn VPZ, a psychotherapist with certification by the kanton and who is  a participating member Organization of Psychotherapists of Central Switzerland.

FMH Psychiatrie und Psychotherapie, a psychiatrist who in addition to a medical degree in psychiatry has also been trained  in psychotherapy.

In the kantons where  certification by the health department is not yet required, the various professional organizations guarantee the qualifications of their members.

The professional title “psychologist is not protected in Switzerland. This means that anyone could call themselves a psychologist. This should change sometime in 2007. The titles “analyst”, “counsellor”, “coach” and “therapist” are similarly unprotected, meaning the qualifications are not governed by law.  

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What is delegated psychotherapy ?

Delegated psychotherapy is  a term that is unique to Switzerland. It refers to the situation in which the therapist is in effect “employed” by a medical doctor who delegates the task of psychotherapy to the therapist. Although the doctor may seldom treat the patient directly he is kept informed by the therapist and is ultimately responsible for the treatment. The costs of the therapy, like the costs of other medical treatment, are then covered by the basic health insurance which is compulsory in Switzerland. 

Delegated psychotherapy is also known as  medical (ärztliche) psychotherapy.


What portion of the psychotherapy costs does the basic health Insurance cover ?

The basic health insurance which is mandatory in Switzerland covers 90% of the fee, minus your deductable.  According to new regulations effective Jan. 2007 if the therapy  is expected to last longer than 10 sessions then a request for the additional coverage has has to be made by  the therapist aftr the 6th session.  Additional detailed reports must be submitted to the Insurers Physician. All reports are confidential
The client’s portion of the fee for delegtaed Psychotherapy is about 14.00 sFr  per session (after the deductable has been paid).--

Can all medical doctors delegate psychotherapy ?

No ! The only  doctors  who can delegate are those who have the professional physicians title “ FMH for Psychiatry and psychotherapy” or the title FMH for child and adolescent psychiatry and psychotherapy, or those who have a special training which qualifies them in the profession of psychotherapy.
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        What’s the difference in Switzerland between a psychotherapist,  a psychologist and a psychiatrist ?

A Psychotherapist

is a professional with  expertise in the areas of human behavior, and mental health, and  assesses,  diagnoses and treats persons suffering from disturbances in these areas.

treats patients by working with them  to change perceptions and attitudes, thus enabling them to develop healthier, more effective patterns of behavior.

has a university (Masters level) degree,  and has an extensive 4-5 year special training in an accredited school for psychotherapy.

“ Psychotherapist” is a protected title 

A Psychologist

is a professional with expertise in the variations of “normal” human behavior,

.works for example in schools, in business, and is interested in human actions and interactions; may be counselors in a variety of areas. Has the goal of improving normal functioning; may do psychological counseling but is not qualified to treat psychological or emotional suffering.

has a University degree in psychology 


is a medical professional with expertise  in the area of severe mental illnesses and their medical- psychiatric treatment.

is a physician and can prescribe medication.

has a university degree in medicine with a specialization in psychiatry

may only practice psychother-
 apy after completing  special education in this field. In this case one speaks of a “medical” “ärztliche” psychotherapy.".

the professional fields may overlap
Many psychiatrists and psychologists are also trained as psychotherapists. The patient has the right to inquire what sort of training or education the therapist has before he begins a therapy.

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What should be considered when looking for a psychotherapist ?

There are many different schools (forms) of psychotherapy. It’s difficult to determine what the “right” therapy form is for each individual. The most well known are the analytical psychotherapy (C. G. Jung), psychoanalysis (Freud),   client oriented psychotherapy, gestalt therapy,  body oriented psychotherapy, and the behavioral therapy. Actually many psychotherapists have a basic training in one field and additional training in other fields and work without a specific method-orientation. The total concept of their treatment method is a combination of various schools applied in a manner that best suits the client.  The results of the latest scientific research in this area indicates good success with this treatment strategy.

If you’re not sure then arrange with several therapists for an initial session without commitment and ask him or her during this session why they think they can help you and why their method can be effective with regard to your problem.

This having been said, in the choice of a therapist It’s important to know, and all therapists will agree,  that the foundation of psychotherapy is the relationship you establish with the therapist. Research has shown that the technique the therapist uses is not as important as the relationship you build together. As therapy progresses and trust is established, it is the relationship between you and the therapist in combination with their professional skills and experience,  of course that makes it possible to resolve your problems. This is much more important than the training or the therapy form. If you make appointments for initial sessions with several therapists and you discover you feel good with the first one, then it’s advisable to cancel the other appointments and stay.   Initial sessions and the telling of your story cost a lot of energy 
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