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    Psychotherapy in Poland – controversy and the need for regulation

    In recent days, there has been news of the establishment of a new medical specialisation, which is to be available not only to doctors. We are talking about psychotherapy. The regulation of the Minister of Health on this matter came into force at the end of June. However, according to psychotherapists, the problem with psychotherapy is complex and the regulation alone will not solve all the existing difficulties. Doubts about the effectiveness of the new regulations are expressed by both psychotherapists and doctors.

    Dr Sławomir Murawiec, a psychiatrist and psychotherapist, notices more and more patients in his office who go to therapy for many years and yet no improvement in their condition is observed. They have no insight into their disorder and the distressing symptoms persist. This is just one of many cases that illustrate the problem with psychotherapy.

    Another difficulty is that some patients presenting with specific problems end up with psychotherapists who focus on completely different issues. As a result, patients do not receive adequate help. There are even cases where people with diagnosed schizophrenia or epilepsy are advised by psychotherapists to discontinue medication, which can lead to serious health consequences.

    One of the main problems is also the lack of regulation regarding the advertising of psychotherapists. People who seek help often encounter incompetent people who are not able to actually help patients. Advertising does not always equal a competent professional.

    A psychotherapist should have the ability to recognise mental and personality disorders, select appropriate therapeutic methods, leave their beliefs behind the office door and control their own reactions. In addition, he or she should work under supervision and maintain patient confidentiality.

    In the context of the new medical specialisation, which is supposed to be available to a variety of graduates such as doctors, nurses, psychologists, educators, the question is whether those who complete this training will meet all these requirements. So far, the road to this is a long one.

    The psychotherapist community is not satisfied with the introduction of the new regulation. It was hoping for a law that would regulate the profession of psychotherapist more precisely. Accordingly, there is a parliamentary team that is working on a bill on this issue.

    One of the main problems with the introduction of the Act is the diversity of psychotherapeutic streams, each using different therapeutic methods. It can be difficult to create a coherent programme that takes these differences into account. Regardless of the form of the act, it is important to ensure access to psychotherapy based on a sound scientific basis.

    Proponents of the act argue that it should include provisions for professional liability, as with other medical professions. Such provisions would enable patients to complain about possible negligence or errors committed by psychotherapists.

    At the moment, there is not yet a programme for the specialisation or a list of establishments where it will be possible to follow it. Work on these issues is in progress. In addition, the Minister of Health will have to appoint a national consultant for psychotherapy.

    In summary, the introduction of a new medical specialisation in psychotherapy is controversial. The regulation that has come into force does not solve all the problems related to psychotherapy, which concern both the quality of the assistance provided and the lack of regulations on advertising and professional liability. The introduction of a law could be one solution, but the difficulties arising from the diversity of psychotherapeutic streams pose a challenge.


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