Denmark

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Summary

Counselling Associations

All Professional Bodies, National Associations (e.g. Mental Health, School, Guidance, Addiction, Faith-based etc.) and Accrediting Organisations.

Danish Psychological Association

Danish Psychotherapist Association

Universities and Other Education and Training Institutes

Århus University

Copenhagen University

Ålborg University 

  • University Website: https://www.en.aau.dk/
  • Programme Website: https://www.aau.dk/uddannelser/bachelor/psykologi & https://www.aau.dk/uddannelser/kandidat/psykologi
  • Programme Types: Bachelor of Science in Psychology & Master of Science in Psychology 

University of Southern Denmark

Counselling Agencies, Services, Group Practices, Counselling Centres

Background & Context

The Scandinavian countries are often perceived as homogeneous in terms of their social welfare systems due to their geographical proximity and similar cultural and historical traditions (see Dixon/Hansen 2010, p. 38). However, there are definitely some differences. For example, compared to other Nordic countries, Denmark has tended to focus on applied psychotherapeutic approaches, and thus the development of Danish counselling or psychology has been clinically based and application-oriented from the beginning (cf. ibid., p. 38).

Thus, counselling or psychology have a relatively long history in Denmark and find their origin in the philosophical movement influenced by Harald Høffding (cf. Dixon/Hansen 2010, p. 38). With the establishment of the psychophysical laboratory in Copenhagen in 1886, counselling/psychology first became an independent discipline. Since then, it has developed rapidly in Denmark and more psychological associations have been founded. In 1993, counsellors and psychologists received official accreditation from the Ministry of Social Affairs. At the same time, a board was formed to examine the qualifications of counsellors/psychologists (cf. Dixon/Hansen 2010, p. 39). Parallel to this, the Psychotherapeutic Association was founded in 1993 as an interest organization for professional psychotherapists (cf. ibid., p. 40). It should be noted that in Denmark the common medical term for professionals who provide mental health support is psychologist (cf. ibid., p. 40). In contrast, the term psychotherapist refers to a person who provides practical counselling (equivalent to the U.S. vocational counsellor) (cf. ibid., p. 40).

Current Regulatory Status / Level of Recognition:

Currently, the Danish Psychotherapeutic Association is the only known Danish professional group promoting the development of the counselling profession as a separate discipline from psychology (cf. Dixon/Hansen 2010, p. 40). Currently, there are no specific training programs or licensing and certification guidelines for psychotherapists in Denmark, and no licensing or certification requirements for psychotherapists who are not members of the Danish Psychotherapeutic Association (cf. ibid., p. 40). To become a member of the association, a person must have a bachelor’s degree in psychology, social work, education, or nursing and have completed 250 hours of personal therapy, 150 hours of supervision, and 300 hours of theory (cf. ibid., p. 40).

Thus, in Denmark, there is no clearly delineated professional counselling profession. This fact can be confirmed by the absence of counselling associations (cf. Zapolsky 2020, p. 73). The terms “counselling” and “psychology” are used interchangeably, which blurs the boundaries of professional identity as counsellors*. At the same time, there are several counselling/psychology degree programs at the college level. However, there are no specific standardized criteria for the accreditation of counselling/psychology training programs (see Zapolsky 2020, p. 73). However, in Denmark there exists so-called Danish Accreditation Institution, an independent body that accredits institutions within the higher education system regardless of their professional specialization (cf. ibid., p. 72f.). The Danish Accreditation Institution (DAI) does not provide accreditation for specific programs, but for the 73 academic institutions. This institutional accreditation guarantees that institutions are able to produce their own quality assurance (QA) for all of their programs. Therefore, the development of specific standards of advising programs is up to the respective institutions (see Zapolsky 2020, p. 72f.).

The following programs can be considered “counselling programs”: Master’s programs in psychology offered at universities, professional Bachelor’s programs for social workers (the translation of the Danish name/title “social worker” is literally “social counsellor”) offered at “university colleges,” and a number of private programs for psychotherapists offered at private institutions (cf. Zapolsky 2020, p. 72).

Practice Settings

  • School counselling (cf. Dixon/Hansen 2010, p. 40f.).
  • Educational and career counselling (cf. Thomsen/Plant 2013, p. 173).
  • College and university counselling (cf. Thomsen/Plant 2013, p. 173).
  • Family counselling (cf. Dixon/Hansen 2010, p. 40f.).
  • Couples counselling (cf. Dixon/Hansen 2010, p. 40f.).
  • Individual counselling (the most common form) (cf. Dixon/Hansen 2010, p. 40f.).

Challenges & Trends

Psychological counselling and psychotherapy are closely related in Denmark. More and more people are making use of counselling and psychological services. One reason for this could be the government’s decision to channel more state aid into this area. This facilitates access to therapy and counteracts stigmatization (see Dixon/Hansen 2010, p. 40). The development of psychological services is expanding and the desire for international cooperation, in the sense of equal training standards and qualifications, is becoming louder and louder (cf. ibid., p. 40f.). In addition, counselling is also offered in English with an increasing tendency, which can be attributed to increased immigration (cf. ibid., p. 40f.).

Overall, Denmark has very good living standards and therefore has good services to offer its citizens in the area of mental health as well (cf. Dixon/Hansen 2010, p. 40f.).

Additional Information & References

For a more information about the counselling profession in the country, interested readers are encouraged to read the following journal and website articles:

  • Dixon, A. L. & Hansen, N. H. (2010). Fortid, Nutid, Fremtid (Past, Present, Future): Professional Counseling in Denmark. Journal of Counseling & Development, 38-42.
  • Thomsen, R. & Plant, P. (2013). Counseling in Denmark. In Thomas H. Hohenshil, Norman Amundson, & Spencer G. Niles, Counseling around the world : an international handbook (S. 173-181). Alexandria, VA: American Counseling Association.
  • Zapolsky, N. (2020). A Meta-Synthesis of the American and the European Standards for the Accreditation of Counseling Training Programs. Chicago: Digital Commons@NLU.
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