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date: 25 November 2020

The History of Psychological Psychotherapy in Germany: The Rise of Psychology in Mental Health Care and the Emergence of Clinical Psychology During the 20th Centurylocked

  • Lisa MalichLisa MalichUniversity of Luebeck, Institute for Science Studies and the History of Medicine

Summary

Two different but related developments played an important role in the history of psychologists in the fields of mental health care in Germany during the 20th century. The first development took place in the field of applied psychology, which saw psychological professionals perform mental testing, engage in counseling and increasingly, in psychotherapy in practical contexts. This process slowly began in the first decades of the 20th century and included approaches from different schools of psychotherapy. The second relevant development was the emergence of clinical psychology as an academic sub-discipline of psychology. Having become institutionalized in psychology departments at German universities during the 1960s and 1970s, clinical psychology often defines itself as a natural science and almost exclusively focuses on cognitive-behavioral approaches. There are four phases of the growing relationship between psychology and psychotherapy in Germany in which the two developments were increasingly linked: first, the entry of psychology into psychiatric and psychotherapeutic fields from approximately 1900 until 1945; second, the rise of psychological psychotherapy and the emergence of clinical psychology after World War II until 1972, when the diploma-regulations in West Germany were revised; third, a phase of consolidation and diversification from 1973 until the pivotal psychotherapy law of 1999; and fourth, the shifting equilibrium as established profession and discipline up to the reform of the psychotherapy law in 2019. Overall, the emergence of psychological psychotherapy has not one single trajectory but rather multiple origins in the different and competing academic and professional fields of mental health care.

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