With a master's education in psychology can I start working directly as a healthcare psychologist in the Netherlands?

No, if you want to work as a healthcare psychologist in the Netherlands, you must have your diploma recognized and you must register in the BIG register. Due to the differences with the Dutch training procedure, an adaptation period is in most cases necessary before recognition and registration as a healthcare psychologist in the Netherlands is possible. With a master's degree in psychology (such as a Belgian master's degree) you can immediately start working in the Netherlands as a basic psychologist. Then recognition or registration is not necessary.

What is the difference in education in the Netherlands between a (basic) psychologist, a healthcare psychologist and a clinical psychologist?

  • Basic psychologist: completed four-year master's education in psychology
  • Healthcare psychologist: completed four-year master's education in psychology, plus a two-year post-master's education to become a healthcare psychologist
  • Specialization as a clinical psychologist: completed education as a healthcare psychologist supplemented by a four-year university education as a clinical psychologist

Substantive differences

If you are curious about the substantive differences between the Dutch and most foreign educations, read the Dutch document [Dutch: Inhoud opleiding tot GZ-psycholoog in Nederland'Contents education as a healthcare psychologist in the Netherlands' for a general description.

Are you considering submitting an application for recognition with a Belgian master's degree?

Recognition requests are received very regularly from Belgium. Many applicants apply for recognition as a healthcare psychologist in the Netherlands on the basis of a master's degree. Although the Belgian master's education is often one year longer than the Dutch master's education, in most cases the conclusion is that there are still substantial differences between the followed Belgian master's education and the Dutch education for healthcare psychologists.

In many cases NO direct recognition of the Belgian master's degree

There are no Belgian master's degrees in psychology that are automatically recognized. Direct recognition of the Belgian master's degree in psychology after the application is also not common. In many cases, the applicant must (based on EU law) undergo an adaptation period of several months to several years before the professional qualifications can be recognized. It is also possible to choose to take an aptitude test. You will then be tested on the observed differences at the level of the final qualifications of the Dutch healthcare training. If you have submitted an application for recognition, you will receive advice on possible adaptation internships and the aptitude test after assessment of your application.

When is immediate recognition required?

Direct recognition is sometimes possible if, in addition to the master's degree, there is a substantial amount of additional training and practical or professional experience available, which compensates for the differences between the Belgian master's program and the Dutch post-master's program to become a healthcare psychologist.

Questions about specific situations

Can I be recognized as a healthcare psychologist with a Dutch Master's degree in Psychology and a Belgian recognition as a clinical psychologist?

No, with a Belgian recognition of your Dutch diploma you cannot obtain recognition as a healthcare psychologist. A Belgian recognition cannot be recognized by the Netherlands. In addition, you have a Dutch diploma.

As a recognized Belgian psychotherapist, can I work in the Netherlands as a healthcare psychologist?

No, that is often not possible. When someone from Belgium is recognized as a psychotherapist in the Netherlands, this means that there are no essential differences between the Dutch training (to become a psychotherapist) and the training followed. This does not automatically mean that there are also sufficient grounds for recognition as a healthcare psychologist. There are different requirements for this. Practice shows that even then additional training, supervision and work experience are often required.