Waiting lists for child and adolescent psychotherapists are often closed

He is a little boy of nine years and he is having a hard time. School, tasks and requirements, full-day care every day until The child escalates. The school no longer wants to get involved in fights, including with older people, insults and inconsistent behavior. The threat of expulsion from school hangs over the family like the sword of Damocles. What are the causes, what to do? Parents are desperately looking for psychological help: It’s like looking for a needle in a haystack.

New patients do not have to register, it says on the website

“I called the pediatrician’s list of psychiatrists, therapists, clinics. Nothing,” says mother Sabine Marschall (name changed by editorial staff). Some only announced after four weeks that they could not help. Others said they may know in October if they would be back on the waiting list. On many websites, she found the message that new patients should not report at all.

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The suffering in many families is massive

“I have been working with young people for a long time,” says child and adolescent psychotherapist Volkan Bölükbasi from Heilbronn, who worked as a street worker for eleven years. “I saw the need come, but the intensity, even after Corona, surprised me.” The suffering in many families is massive.

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The practice of psychotherapists is clearly regulated

Self-paying can also wait up to half a year

From his daily work, he knows that there are almost no waiting lists anymore. They are so full that the therapists had to close them. Even self-payers wait up to six months for an initial consultation.

Over time? “Of course I work overtime,” says Bölükbasi. There are almost no Turkish-speaking male therapists in the region, and he quickly initiates conversations with Arab patients: This makes his therapeutic work even more in demand. “Last Saturday, I had nine patients in a row,” he says. “You really have a full head there. But I want to take care of as many people as possible.” At the same time, it is important to respect its own boundaries. “Otherwise, people no longer feel taken care of.”

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Psychological counseling centers can be an anchor

If it takes months before the first interview, the network of psychological counseling centers from Caritas, Diakonie, the city and the Heilbronn district can be an anchor. “We depend on all institutions to bridge the gap,” says Bölükbasi. Dietrich Munzt from Stuttgart, chairman of the Federal Chamber of Psychotherapists, agrees that the collaboration “makes sense and is well-established”. But for the mentally ill, the question is whether they can be helped as part of a consultation.

In fact, there are no problems recruiting therapists

He has long found the practice places for therapists in Baden-Württemberg far too small. There are no new recruits for the therapists. Reduction of waiting times for treatment and 1,600 extra places, the chamber recently called for at the German Psychotherapist Day in Stuttgart.

Meanwhile, the increased demand is also reflected in the psychological counseling centers. “In our open youth consultation, we have double the throughput per counselor, even though there was a shortage of psychotherapists even before Corona,” says Karl Friedrich Bretz, CEO of Diakonisches Werk in Heilbronn.

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Calls at counseling centers are free

The conversations with the experts there are free, the affected usually get an appointment within a few weeks, but long-term therapy is not the approach: According to the annual report, 70 percent participate in one to five sessions. Nevertheless, the aid is effective, says Stefan Schneider, CEO of Caritas Heilbronn-Hohenlohe. “Sometimes even one-time conversations can do wonders.” Therapy is not always necessary. “It’s a business, too.”

Quick help can prevent a problem from becoming chronic. Petra Kölling, head of the counseling center at the district office, sees it this way. “We are here to support the parents.” More complex worries, more frequent meetings – with limited capacity, Johanna Dautermann, who heads the Caritas counseling for families, has it. They cooperate with the Youth Office in individual cases: but “we always need a dedicated release from confidentiality”.

If Corona decreases, the number of registrations will increase

Meinolf Zünkler, head of the counseling center at Diakonien, has “an insane amount to do”. “When the Corona slows down, the registrations skyrocket.” Already now he expects “a really big wave”. The children who fled Ukraine had not yet reached his advice.

He went straight to high school. “There are a lot of inquiries that make you realize that high schools are running out.” The traces of the last two years are showing. Children who are no longer used to sitting in class, who struggled with panic attacks, fear, coercion – or made riots.

The city has acknowledged the problems: High schools that do not have consultation hours can apply for up to seven individual case conferences this year. According to Zünkler, the network also wants to increase staff or raise project funds.

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