Proposals for the Award of a European Certificate of Psychotherapy

Professor Emmy van Deurzen-Smith Professor Digby Tantam

Co. Chairs, Training Standards Committee, European Association of Psychotherapy

The European Training Standards Committee, and Working Groups of it, have met on four occasions since the last EAP annual meeting (in Brussels, in Vienna, in Frankfurt and on 7 June in London) and this document has been agreed.


Mobility of psychotherapists within Europe is hindered by the lack of equivalence between the national standards of psychotherapy trainings of member states. Those countries who are struggling to have the independent profession of psychotherapy recognised also support a European Certificate Psychotherapy (ECP), which is given the support of the European Union, to be helpful to them in establishing their profession nationally.

The committee recognises that it is essential that the arrival of the certi­ficate does not undermine already existing national arrangements for the recognition of psychotherapy. The criteria for the award of the certificate must therefore not be less than the criteria for psychotherapy accreditation in any member state. Were accreditation criteria to be much higher in a parti­cular member state than all the others, and were they to be higher than was required for sister professions such as clinical psychology and psychiatry, then evidence could be presented to the government of the member state suggesting a change in accreditation.

The committee also recognises that the arrival of the ECP must not occur independently of the national umbrella organisations. The status of the EAP is dependent, in part, on the status of those national umbrella organisations who are its members. A situation must not arise whereby a person could be trained in a member state and be ineligible for recognition by that country’s umbrella organisation but be eligible for the award of a ECP and thus be eligible for registration by the country concerned.

Different countries and different schools of psychotherapy place different emphases on components of training. It is important that the criteria for the award of the ECP are flexible enough to respond to this. Particular differ­ences that emerged in the committee are that in some countries many people have no behavioural science or mental health training before they enter psychotherapy training. In other countries few psychotherapists enter train­ing without a mental health qualification (eg. in social work, psychology or psychiatry). It will be essential that the criteria for the ECP have the flex­ibility to encompass this.

The committee also recognised that different psychotherapeutic methods require different training emphases. Again, flexibility will be required to respond to this. In this respect, the committee recommends the approach taken by the Federation Europeenne D’Associations Nationales D’Ingenieurs (FEANI) which has achieved a certificate which has the support of the Euro­pean Commission. Many of the Principles of the FEANI approach have been incorporated in this document.


The European Certificate of Psychotherapy (ECP) will be awarded to practi­tioners whose training has been completed. It will be awarded by the Euro­pean Association of Psychotherapy according to criteria determined by the EAP. Certificates will be awarded for a period of five years in the first in­stance to practitioners who are recommended to the EAP by NUO’s or, in the absence of an NUO, by national delegates in collaboration with the EAP Training Committee.

There will be a fee for the award of the ECP, which will be split between the National Umbrella Organisation and the EAP, to cover administration costs.

The following criteria must be met before an ECP is awarded:


National Umbrella Organisations

1. Must be the single organisation within a country recognised by the EAP as having the widest representation of modalities of psychotherapy training organisations.

2. Must be accredited by the EAP as having ethical guidelines and com­plaints procedures, training standards, and methods of accrediting trainings.

3. In the absence of an accredited National Umbrella Organisation (NUO), a training organisation may apply directly to the Training Standards Com­mittee of the EAP through their national delegate.

Psychotherapy Method

4. The method used must be well defined and have a clear theoretical basis.

5. The methods must have been

(a)  scientifically validated by the EAP or    
(b)  have been recognised in several EU countries as valid by rele­vant professional organisations.

Psychotherapy Training

6. The training has been accredited by the NUO or, in the absence of an NUO, by the ETSC (European Training Standards Committee).

7. Supervision and therapy are provided by practitioners whose training would meet criteria for the award of an ECP.

8. The training meets EAP criteria for basic professional training, and includes the following elements.

(1) Personal Therapeutic Experience or Equivalent
This should be taken to include training analysis, self-experience and other methods involving elements of self reflection, therapy and personal experience. No single term is agreed by all Psychotherapy methods. Any training shall include arrangements to ensure that the trainees can identify and manage appropriately their personal involvement in and contributions to the processes of the psychotherapies that they practise in accordance with their specific methods.
(2) Theoretical Study
There will be a general part and a part which is specific to psychotherapy. Particular courses of university study or professional training can count as 1, 2 or a maximum of 3 years towards the 7 years of Psychotherapy training. Equivalencies will be determined and published by EAP at a later date.
(3) Psychotherapeutic practice
This will include a component of supervision, which must be at least one year in duration.
(4) Placement in a Mental Health setting or equivalent experience
The total duration of training will be of the order of 3000-3500 hours, spread over seven years, at least four years of which must be in a training specific to psychotherapy. The EAP will, in collaboration with NUO’s and European Accredited Organisations determine the proportion of the training elements that need to be completed to be awarded the Certificate.


9. For the purposes of the award of the certificate, the psychotherapist must be in a professional organisation recognised by the NUO, and found to have satisfactory ethical standards and complaints procedures.

10. The psychotherapist must have completed basic professional training within one accredited organisation and advanced training within that organ­isation or within another accredited organisation training in the same method.

11. In the event that there is no NUO the EAP Training Standards Committee will be advised by the national delegate and by any relevant European professional association who are also EAP members.

12. If a NUO refuses to offer for Certification trainees whose training has been by a method scientifically validated by EAP and who have otherwise completed all training requirements, the European accrediting organisation concerned with that method may request the EAP to investigate the matter. If the NUO then acted without adequate reason, the EAP may withdraw its status as an NUO.


The EAP Board will develop a procedure for recording the details of psychotherapists holding the ECP, which will satisfy National Umbrella Organisations as to its accuracy and accessibility. NUOs undertake to inform the EAP of any psychotherapist whose registration they have suspended so that this list can be modified.

The award of an ECP will proceed in steps as follows:

1. The National Umbrella Organisations will, if necessary, apply for recog­nition to the European Training Standards Committee (ETSC) of EAP.

2. The ETSC will recommend them to the EAP Board for accreditation, if appropriate.

3. National Umbrella Organisations, or, if there is none, the national delegate will submit to the ETSC the dossier on each trainee wishing to be awarded the ECP. The dossier will contain evidence showing that the training organisation(s) concerned meet EAP criteria.

4. The ETSC may request expert independent scientific comment on the dossier. The ETSC will recommend the training organisation to the National Umbrella Organisation for accreditation, if appropriate.

5. Psychotherapists applying for ECP will submit an application to their National Umbrella Organisation and will include a transcript of studies endorsed by their training organisation, a fee and a photograph. If there is no NUO, the submission will be to the ETSC.

6. The EAP will keep a record of all holders of the ECP.

7. The EAP will authorise the award of the certificate by the National Umbrella Organisation. If there is no NUO, the certificate will be awarded by the EAP.

8. Further consideration will be given to how the certificate will be awarded to already established practitioners