The Psychotherapy Profession Bill
Prof. Andrew Azzopardi, Dean, Faculty for Social Wellbeing
As Dean of the Faculty for Social Wellbeing I would like to express my concern on the Psychotherapy Profession Bill that has recently been tabled in Parliament.
The Department of Psychology, which incidentally is the largest Department within the Faculty for Social Wellbeing, hosts almost 600 students and is responsible for teaching and conducting research in the areas of general psychology, human relationships and mental health. The mission of this Department is to train undergraduates and postgraduates in the scientific understanding of the human mind and human relationships. The programmes offered by the Department include: Bachelor in Psychology (Honours); Degrees with Psychology as an Area of Study (offered in collaboration with other Faculties); Higher Diploma in Psychology and the Master in Psychology.
The commitment of this Faculty through this Department in addressing such a delicate and intricate discipline is second to none. My interest as Dean of this Faculty is to ensure that we have the right professionals, with the right type of training providing the best quality of service to those who require our support - my concern on this issue at hand is intended to be interpreted this way.
In actual fact, the recently proposed bill intended to regularise Psychotherapists is implying that only Psychotherapists can legally practise this therapy. It is important that I flag a situation that creates a conflict with the Psychology Profession Act, (2004) which stipulates that warranted Psychologists can implement what section 9 of the Act refers to as “a set of therapeutic interventions” because Psychotherapy, is in fact, one of the main features of many psychologists’ practice.
In countries such as the USA, UK and Malta, Psychotherapy is a core competency of the training of many psychologists. These psychologists are trained in a wide range of mental and physical health problems and are able to conduct clinical assessments. Psychological assessment may lead to psychological intervention, which may consist of various forms of psychotherapy. Psychologists generally draw on one or more theories of psychotherapy, which act as a guide to understanding and intervening with clients and their problems. If the proposed bill were to pass as is, it would have not only serious consequences on the Psychology profession but risks short-changing vulnerable people.
Consequently, I would like to appeal to the competent authorities to re-think the architecture of this legislation within the parameters we are indicating, that is to say, a bill that will strengthen and bring together different professions rather than create unnecessary and unwarranted division which would affect the vulnerable populations we need to work with.