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Will psychotherapists soon only be able to treat selected patients?

Will psychotherapists soon only be able to treat selected patients?



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A new lower instance should clarify the need for therapy

Anyone who has ever wanted to do psychotherapy quickly realized that getting a place with a therapist is anything but easy. The waiting lists are long and places are limited. However, new places often cannot be created because the number of admissions for psychotherapists is also limited. Health Minister Jens Spahn wants to change something in this situation - but not as many have imagined. Instead of creating more places, he wants to lower the number of therapy seekers through a lower instance.

Minister of Health Spahn presented a bill on September 26 to ensure better care for the mentally ill. The so-called Appointment Service and Care Act (TSVG) is intended to introduce a tiered control system for mentally ill people seeking help. In a preliminary medical examination, a qualified doctor should then decide whether the patient actually needs psychotherapy. For the mentally ill, however, this represents a further hurdle on the way to therapy, the opponents of the draft criticize.

The good come in pots ... and the bad?

The Federal Association of Contractual Psychotherapists, the German Psychotherapist Association and the Association of Analytical Child and Adolescent Psychotherapists responded with fierce criticism and are currently trying to petition the TSVG. "Such a selection, before treatment can be used, undermines free access to medical or psychological psychotherapists," emphasize the associations in the petition text.

A new hurdle race for the mentally ill?

The proposed law discriminates against a whole group of patients. The mentally ill would have to struggle with high emotional and shame-laden stress anyway. According to the new law, these would also have to be discussed with another, not self-selected doctor. "Mentally ill people are subjected to a hurdle race that puts an unnecessary strain on them and puts them at a disadvantage compared to other patient groups," the authors of the petition write.

Specialists feel discriminated against

As can be seen from the petition, psychiatrists and psychotherapists also feel left out. The draft law indirectly assumes that they are unable to make such assessments themselves. "Due to their specialist knowledge and approval, doctors and psychological psychotherapists who are active in psychotherapy have all the qualifications for diagnosis, indication and treatment planning," write the petition authors.

Health care studies prove the success of the therapy

The associations rely on several independent health care studies, which show that psychotherapy in Germany achieves good success with high patient satisfaction. "The proposed new regulation can only be seen as an unjustified attempt to ration treatment services," the association concluded.

Health minister defends his plans

On Wednesday, December 12, Federal Health Minister Jens Spahn defended his plans to reorganize psychotherapy against the public broadcaster ARD. "Today, despite all the measures taken in recent years, it is still the case that people with depression who urgently need treatment do not get it too often and wait a long time," Spahn told the broadcaster. For this reason, he wanted to control and coordinate through the law so that really sick people would receive treatment. He considered an intermediary expert opinion on the urgency assessment to be a suitable instrument.

Spahn: More therapists cannot solve the problem

According to the Minister of Health, the use of more psychotherapists cannot solve the problem. As his team found through the appointment service center, the longest waiting times for therapy were recorded in the areas where there are most psychotherapists. "That shows that something in the control system doesn't work as it should," says Spahn. He emphasized that he himself had experienced a case of mental illness in the family and that the fast and good care of mentally ill people was particularly important to him. (vb)

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