(photo credit: Courtesy)
A private member’s bill that would allow specially trained psychologists who are
not clinical psychologists to give psychotherapy treatment was approved by the
Knesset Labor, Social Affairs and Health Committee on Monday and will now go to
the plenum for its second and third readings.
The bill was initiated by
MK Moshe Matalon (Israel Beiteinu) and not the Health Ministry, but the ministry
supported the bill, according to chief psychiatrist Dr. Gadi Lubin.
bill seeks to amend the 1977 Psychologists Law, which allows only clinical
psychologists to practice psychotherapy.
If the bill becomes law,
rehabilitational, medical and developmental psychologists are the most likely to
receive authorization to offer psychotherapy, but other psychologists would be
considered if they have undergone proper training.
Prof. Arieh Shalev,
chief of psychiatry at the Hadassah University Medical Center in the capital’s
Ein Kerem, told The Jerusalem Post
that he strongly favored the
If the proposed reform – now approved by the Health Ministry –
that would transfer its responsibility for psychiatric care to the health funds
is approved, the insurers will have to find many more
Clinical psychologists have been against the change,
but the Psychologists Law is outdated, Shalev said.
to be classical, in-depth and longterm such as Freudian, but today, these
techniques are less effective. Psychologists in other fields can get excellent
training at Bar-Ilan University and elsewhere, and they should be allowed to
provide it,” he said.
Shalev added that some non-clinical psychologists
have been giving patients treatment “without calling it psychotherapy,” thus the
amendment fills a real need to set boundaries.
While “there is some
concern about charlatans,” if the law is well supervised, it will be an
improvement, Shalev said.
“I am more worried about people who need
therapy from their health fund and are not getting it because there aren’t
enough authorized therapists,” he added.
Problems that can be handled by
psychotherapy include anxiety after suffering a heart attack or a road accident,
Patients don’t necessarily need classical, long-term
psychotherapy for this, Shalev said.
Clinical psychologists told the
Knesset committee that they feared the bill would endanger their status and that
people who need help would go to someone who was not suitably trained – and
wouldn’t know how to identify those who were.
Committee chairman Haim
Katz (Likud) said he was happy “that the committee could improve the services
and treatments available to citizens while ensuring that only those trained for
it were allowed to do so.”