“Don’t give up when things get difficult – when you find a position as a psychologist you will find that it can be challenging at times but also incredibly rewarding, which makes it all worthwhile in the end,” is Katy’s closing statement at the end of our interview. Even though things are well organized in the Netherlands when it comes to mental health care, it can be really hard to get a job as a psychologist. But when you do, it’s not a bad place to be in.
Katy is a Cognitive Therapist and a Junior Schema Therapist at PsyQ International Mental Health Services in The Hague, the Netherlands. This means that she provides individual treatment for expatriates from all over the world. Besides that, she is involved in development of group therapy programs, supervising interns and overseeing the quality of care at the department. During her work here, she has completed trainings in cognitive and schema therapy, which is really useful in her current job: “Learning how to use cognitive therapy and schema therapy, along with other treatment methods has been useful as I see patients with a wide variety of disorders at our department, which requires a broad range of interventions,” Katy explains.
From MSc to licensed psychologist
In the Netherlands, it is necessary to complete a master’s degree in clinical psychology before being able to find a job in that field. Katy completed her master’s degree at the University of Amsterdam, which means that she can work as a psychologist in a clinical setting. However, it does not mean that she has earned the exclusive right to call herself a psychologist. “Unfortunately anyone can call themselves a psychologist as this is not a protected title in the Netherlands,” Katy explains. Additionally, the clinical master’s degree does not suffice to get your treatment covered by health insurances. And to become a licensed psychologist can be pretty tough in the Netherlands. “To get into the additional 2-year training course is very difficult, as there are only several hundred places each year and thousands of people trying to enter the program,” says Katy. Also, to get into this training course, you have to have a job as a psychologist in a clinical setting, which can be challenging to obtain as well. Katy’s advice would be to initiate contact with potential employers yourself. “Don’t wait for opportunities to come to you. I got my job by writing to PsyQ and asking if any jobs were available. I was lucky as International Mental Health Services was a new department which was expanding at the time.
Working as a psychologist in the Netherlands
The upside is that when you manage to get a job as a psychologist in the Netherlands, there is plenty of space for development. “There are many ways to keep developing yourself as a therapist thanks to a wide array of additional courses that you can choose from.” Katy thinks that this diversity is outstanding to the psychology field in the Netherlands, besides the high quality of health care. “Many treatment methods are available and covered by health insurance. The patients I treat, who are expats from all over the world, often mention the high quality of health care in the Netherlands compared to other countries in Europe and elsewhere”, she explains.
According to Katy, your salary as a psychologist depends on which company you work for. “Usually for a MSc in clinical psychology, the salary is anywhere between 2300- 3665 euros a month on fulltime basis. As a licensed psychologist you could earn anywhere between 3665- 4915 euros a month on a fulltime basis, depending on experience.”
Other fields of psychology
Psychology students who are not interested in the clinical field of psychology have plenty of options to choose from in the Netherlands. Katy explains: “After completing the 3 year Psychology Bachelor course you can further specialise by choosing to do a Research Master or Master with other specialisations such as neuropsychology, developmental psychology, organisational psychology etc., there are many possibilities. The whole study process (bachelors and masters) is usually 4-5 years.” After completing the master’s degree, graduates can work in many different fields. “In addition to working as a clinical psychologist, you can end up working for the government, marketing, police, schools, as a researcher, consultant etc.”, Katy explains.
To sum up: even though it is quite easy to get into the psychology bachelor and clinical master in the Netherlands, it is not quite as easy to get a job as a psychologist in a clinical setting. However, when you do, there are plenty of ways to develop yourself by participating in additional trainings and you might get into the training to become a licensed psychologist. Finally, another piece of advice from Katy: “Keep going and don’t doubt yourself. It is not an easy field to get into but you will get there if you persist. Good luck!”