Mysterious psychology in Germany

Markus (26) from Germany is working as a research assistant at a rehabilitation clinic since half a year. He is part of a research project, which is conducting a study about the life quality of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS)-patients who are in a late phase of their disease, in which they are not able to speak anymore. Before this job, he studied psychology in Ulm.

Studying psychology in Germany – pretty difficult
The educational system in Germany is divided into Bachelor and Master, which usually take 5 years to complete. After five years of studying, you are officially a psychologist. Further, the choice of specializations is rich. Markus: “Almost every part of psychology can be studied, from clinical to music psychology, everything is possible.” But actually getting into this education, is a rather difficult task in Germany: “At some universities you could only get into the program if your high school degree had the highest grade (1,0). Of course for many, including me, this was not the case. I applied for many universities and was denied many times.” Luckily for Markus, one university that also took students with lower school marks accepted him. According to Markus, this selection process, which focuses on school grades, could definitely be improved: “There are so many more important factors that define a good psychologist. Universities should pay more attention to that.”

Working as a psychologist in Germany – gets better 
There are many jobs available, with most opportunities in the clinical and economic sectors. Markus: “The largest job offers probably come from therapeutic institutions followed by big companies looking for psychologists who help them select personal, for example managers.”  But besides that, psychologists are able to work in a variety of fields in Germany. Not only in the clinics but also in developmental care, personal selection or social psychology. According to Markus, psychologist are very much integrated into the research system: “At least when it comes down to clinical and economic research it seems as if organizations are really thankful for psychologists helping them out with statistical analysis etc.”

Germany’s perspective on psychology – room for improvement
Although psychologists are thankfully employed in many research settings, in the clinical field it is sometimes harder to earn respect for what you are doing. Markus: “In my clinical work I got the feeling that psychologists had to defend the existence authority of their subject.” This might have something to do with the general outlook on mental disease in Germany, which is slowly changing. Markus: “I hope that at one point it will be OK for people to say that they are in therapy sessions. Because from what I’ve experienced so far, people tend to not speak about psychological issues as they are afraid of being looked at as “crazy””. A final piece of advice from Markus would be to keep in mind that psychology is just as important as other subjects: “Psychology is one of the most mysterious subjects as it deals with the human mind. Understanding our mind or even just to get a little hint of what actually goes on in our brains is really difficult and therefore of utter importance.” And how could we not agree with that!