Private psychotherapy training in Italy: A systematic analysis

Cesare Maffei, Franco Del Corno, Nino Dazzi, Assunta Cioffi, Maria Grazia Strepparava

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This paper examines the results of a systematic analysis, organised by the Italian Ministry of Education, University and Research, of private psychotherapy training in Italy. Since 1989, training in psychotherapy in Italy has been governed by a national law which recognises both public and private institutions. While the public system usually comprises approximately 150 students, the private system has grown significantly over time, registering thousands of students in hundreds of schools (for example, 19,123 students in 212 schools in 2011). Systematic analysis variables included geographical distribution, theoretical approaches, training methods, student and teacher characteristics, student’s personal psychotherapy, supervision and apprenticeships. Data were obtained from 92% of the schools. The primary issues discussed in this paper are as follows: the uneven geographical distribution of the schools; the disorderly amalgamation of traditional scientific paradigms; programmes which concentrate on theory and fail to meet international guidelines. One key issue is the excess supply with regard to demand, meaning that recently graduated psychotherapists (especially women) risk underemployment and financial hardship. Student enrolment is also increasingly problematic. This is the first paper to present an in-depth analysis of one European country’s situation in this field. The authors believe it will foster comparison and discussion internationally.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)240-257
Number of pages18
JournalEuropean Journal of Psychotherapy and Counselling
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Jul 3 2015


  • national law
  • private schools
  • psychotherapy training
  • systematic analysis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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