Psychotherapy FAQ

Who Pays the Cost for the Therapy?

(This information applies to Germany only.)

Basically the health insurance funds only pay for treating diseases. The “Psychotherapie-Richtlinien” (psychotherapy guidelines) exactly define what is considered a disease and what isn’t. Mental problems, like depressions, anxiety neuroses, and eating disorders, are diseases in terms of these guidelines.

But if you’re in constant conflict with your spouse (or your children) you aren’t sick. Only if you become depressive (or lethargic, always tired, or get physical troubles) you’re sick and the health insurance is bound to pay for therapy. The legal foundation of this is specified in the Social Security Code (“Sozialgesetzbuch”, SGB V).

In this context only specialists (neurologists and psychiatrists) are currently allowed to decide about what is considered a disease and what not. If you want (or need) to have your therapy reimbursed by the health insurance, then you won’t get around an examination by one of these specialists.

Self-pay patients
As a self-pay patient you spare yourself these formalities. You can freely choose a therapist and will usually quickly find a place. Then you pay the therapist as agreed. Licensed therapists (which you should normally prefer) charge their services as defined in the current “Gebührenordnung für Psychotherapeuten” (GOP). The fee can be charged with a maximum factor of 3.5; this corresponds to 153 EUR for behavioural therapy. The fees are agreed upon individually; the details should be fixed in written form. Social conditions are usually respected.
Meeting the costs with the guideline procedure
If you are in a compulsory health insurance fund (AOK, BKKs) or an “Ersatzkrankenkasse” (BEK, DAK, etc.) and want your therapy to be refunded, you should look for a therapist who holds a health insurance approbation. A list of these therapists is available from your health insurance or in the yellow pages (“Ärzte-Psychotherapie bzw. Psychoanalyse”, “Psychotherapie – Psychologische Psychotherapeuten”.
Private medical insurance patients
If you’re insured with a PMI the modalities for psychotherapy reimbursement depend on your contract with the insurance company. Please enquire whether your private medical insurance will pay for psychotherapy.