FUENTE (source): Charles Cassar, Malta Representative to European Association for Psychotherapy
Like in many other European countries, Maltese psychotherapists have been fighting with the legislative bodies to have psychotherapy recognized as a profession independent of psychology and psychiatry. The Maltese Association of Psychotherapists (MAP) has been at the forefront of this battle; lobbying, meeting the relevant regulatory bodies and explaining what psychotherapy is. In 2003, psychotherapy was recognized as one of the professions complementary to medicine. This led to a clear definition of criteria which demarcated psychotherapy from other professions and defined it as an independent profession. A register was later set up where psychotherapists were asked to register, giving the profession more robustness and credibility.
Current issues now involve attempts to convince local government to create psychotherapy as a profession within its ranks. Though presently psychotherapy is recognised as a different profession from clinical psychology and psychiatry, the profession is not yet included in the government structures. Therefore at present there is no psychotherapy department, neither in the educational nor in the health care sectors. The psychotherapy grade and role does not exist and this leaves a vacuum. Many psychotherapists work with government bodies in a number of different roles, ranging from social workers, to nurses and teachers. Some do psychotherapy work under the offices of clinical psychologists and are classified as assistant psychologists with a speciality in psychotherapy.
Psychologists within the government battle and resist psychotherapists’ efforts to branch out independently, insisting that they can do psychotherapeutic interventions themselves. Many psychiatrists, on the other hand, are getting trained in psychotherapy theory.
A number of psychotherapists practice in private schools, NGO’s and/or have their own private practice. The latter however is most of the time carried on a part time or casual basis, as only few to date, have managed to create a steady and stable income for themselves on a full time basis.
The great majority of psychotherapists in Malta have been trained in Gestalt psychotherapy. This is due to the simple fact that the first school to provide such training was the Gestalt Psychotherapy Institute Malta (GPTIM) which was founded in 1993 by Dr. Lidija Pecotic. Ever since, over 100 psychotherapists have graduated, with some even specializing in supervision. Some other modalities exist in very small numbers like family therapists and psychoanalysts. The qualifying criteria to become a psychotherapist are in line with those of EAP. One has to possess a first degree in one of the Humanities and a post-graduate diploma in a psychotherapy modality obtained from a recognised school of psychotherapy. Apart from the theoretical component, personal therapy on an individual and group basis is required. The Maltese Qualifications Recognition and Information Centre (MQRIC) accredits diplomas presented and in case of psychotherapy studies, these have been classified as level 7. This is a Masters equivalent. Only after this approval can psychotherapists apply to be included in the aforementioned registry.
Malta Representative to EAP.
Chair, National Umbrella Organisation Committee