Psychotherapy in psychiatry: the current situation and future directions in Germany

  • Knut Schnell
  • Sabine C. HerpertzEmail author


The aim of this article is to review how psychotherapy is dispensed to patients in psychiatric treatment and to render the future perspectives of psychotherapy in psychiatric outpatient and inpatient care in Germany. We demonstrate that—according to the currently available data about healthcare providers, allocation of financial resources and curricular regulations—the presently used definition of the term “psychotherapy” is ambiguous. One major problem for the application of psychotherapy in psychiatry is obviously constituted by the dominance of the major guideline therapies (“Richtlinienverfahren”) within psychiatric services. Here, guideline therapies do not meet the needs of a significant proportion of acutely, severely and/or chronically ill psychiatric patients and restrain the application of scientifically approved, disorder-oriented and context compliant interventions in psychiatric practice. As a future perspective, we suggest that the training of psychiatrists should impart profound interpersonal skills and provide the competence to offer psychotherapy within a multimodal, modular, and flexible treatment plan on the background of the self-conception of psychiatry as a medical discipline. Moreover, future concepts of psychiatric psychotherapy should promote an evidence-based selection and application of scientifically approved, disorder-oriented, and integrative treatment methods, which are available in growing number.


Psychotherapy Psychiatry Evidence-based medicine Integrated psychotherapy Public health system Richtlinienverfahren 


Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

This supplement was not sponsored by outside commercial interests. It was funded by the German Association for Psychiatry and Psychotherapy (DGPPN).

Supplementary material

406_2011_257_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (433 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (PDF 433 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of General PsychiatryUniversity Hospital HeidelbergHeidelbergGermany

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