Psychoanalysis in NORWAY   summary

Kari Høydahl


a jour 29.01.12

Historically Norwegian psychiatry and psychology has had a strong psychodynamic orientation. Psychoanalysts have had significant positions in health care, in psychiatric outpatient clinics and hospitals. They have in many ways influenced the development of psychiatry and clinical psychology. The academic psychology was also strongly influenced by psychoanalytic thinking.

From the 1970s, public funding of psychotherapy in Norway has increased. Today we have as far as we know the most beneficial public financial system for patients seeking psychoanalysis or long-term intensive psychotherapy in the world. The patients pay about 2000 Norwegian kroner (260 Euro) per year; the rest is funded under the health care system, and frequency of hours and duration of treatment is not restricted by the health authorities.

In the last 10-15 years, the psychoanalytic/dynamically oriented treatment methods have been subjected to criticism both from the academic community and from cognitive therapists.

In psychiatry (outpatient clinics and departments), we have increasingly seen a trend towards a preference for cognitive treatment. Health authorities also publish Treatment Manuals which mainly recommend cognitive therapy as the first choice in the treatment of most mental disorders. However, it is important to highlight that these manuals are recommendations, not directives. Many of the psychologists and psychiatrists in private practice with government contracts provide psychoanalysis and psychoanalytically oriented treatment.


There are currently two universities in Norway (Oslo and Bergen) that provide systematic training in psychoanalytic/psychodynamic theory and method to psychology students.


Psychologists and psychiatrists can freely choose a psychoanalytically oriented specialization. For doctors, it is also obligatory to participate in courses and supervision of psychodynamic-oriented content. In the labor market today the psychoanalytic specialization is not seen as qualifying as earlier, because many psychiatric positions require knowledge of focused and short-term treatment approaches such as cognitive therapy/exposure techniques, etc.


The government has now - in fall 2011 - initiated an evaluation of the system with financial support to the different private educational institutes in Norway. Deloitte is conducting this  survey. The institutes have been secured unaltered financial support for 2012, but what happens after that we simply do not know.





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