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The title of psychologist

Legal information about title protection and the related code of ethics and Disciplinary Committee.

In Belgium the title of psychologist is protected by law. Below is a summary of the legal stipulations concerning this title:

Information about legal protection of the title of psychologist

Information about statutory disciplinary power and the code of ethics

 

Legal information about legal protection of the title of psychologist

The Act of 8 November 1993 for the protection of the title of psychologist  (BS 31-05-1994) regulates the title of psychologist. It assigns the Belgian Commission of Psychologists to keep up to date the official list of registered psychologists in Belgium (Art. 2-8).

In order to be allowed to bear the title of registered psychologist in Belgium, according to this law, two conditions must be met:

  • Hold a master’s degree that provides access to the title (Art. 1)
  • Be registered as a psychologist. This means that one has to be included in this official list of registered psychologists, kept up to date by the Commission of Psychologists (Art. 2).

Via these limiting conditions the legislator wants to better protect the clients of psychologists. After all, the registration criteria prevent people without the required diploma, and therefore without the necessary professional competence, from simply calling themselves psychologists.

Misuse of title and criminal prosecution

If someone is using the title, but is not registered, then this applies as misleading information and he or she is by law guilty of misuse of title.

Not only unlawful use of the title of psychologist is punishable, but every sign that incorrectly gives the impression that someone is a psychologist (Art. 9). More information about title misuse.

People who misuse the title may be subject to prosecution (Art. 9-10). Not only do they get a fine, but also a criminal record. This applies to those with the right diploma but who are not registered, as well as to those who do not have the necessary diploma.

Legal information about the statutory disciplinary power and the code of ethics

The Act of 21 December 2013, amending the Act of 1993 (BS 04-02-2014), links the title of psychologist to a disciplinary power. This disciplinary power is given by two authorities: a Disciplinary Committee & a Board of Appeal  (Art. 8/1). These two councils guard the observance of the code of ethics for psychologists and act in case of any infringements.

Because of this amendment, the title guarantees expertise as well as the fact that a registered psychologist is ethically committed. If any problems should still occur, the Disciplinary Committee shall act as a safety net which clients with complaints can fall back on.

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