How to become a Clinical Psychologist in Spain

Most countries in Europe regulate practice of clinical psychology within their country, and even though numerous countries in Europe offer solid degrees in psychology, not all of them will allow pursuing a clinical career. This post will focus on how to work as a psychology in a clinical setting in Spain, and will additionally explain a little about the regulations in Europe.

Clinical Psychology in Europe

Clinical psychology is an area within psychology in which the psychologist is specialised in assessing, diagnosing and treating mental illness. Hospitals, prisons, mental health clinics, universities, schools, and private practices are typical workplaces for the clinical psychologist.

The role, status, influence, and regulations of psychologists is extremely diverse throughout the world, and Europe is no exception. It is important to note that not all countries distinguish between types of psychologists and that the titles of psychologist might not be what you expect. For example, in Norway, clinical psychologist is a regulated title, whereas there are no regulations for psychotherapist or health psychologists, whereas Finland regulate health psychologists and psychotherapists, but not clinical psychologists. Institutes in Europe have attempted to create an overview of regulations and practice of of clinical psychologists, psychotherapists, and health psychologists in the European Economic Area, and the Swiss Confederation.

Regulation of the professions of psychotherapist
Regulation of the professions of psychotherapist, clinical psychologist and health psychologist according to Directive 89/48/EEC in the member states of the EEA (as per 2003)

Clinical psychology in Spain

In Spain, clinical psychologist have the protected title Psicólogo Especialista en Psicología Clínica.  The only way to become a clinical psychologist in Spain is to go through a paid postgraduate training  program called Psicólogo Interno Residente (often called PIR), which is a 4-year program which will comprise  of both practical and theoretical training, similar to those who go through medical training. Every year, there are many applicants, perhaps more than 4000, and there are typically around 130 places per year.

Requirements for entering the PIR are: having a degree in psychology, philosophy or education studies/branch of psychology, or in philosophy and the humanities/ branches of psychology, philosophy and education studies, as well as taking a written test called the PIR- test. The PIR- test is a multiple choice test that consists of 225 questions with five alternatives, and lasts for five hours. Previous PIR- tests with questions and answers can be found online. It is all in Spanish and is usually done in January. After the test, the final score will be a combination of the PIR- test results with your academic transcript. There are also requirements for entering the PIR related to citizenship.

Other ways to work within psychology

There is also a master’s degree  in Spain called Máster Universitario en Psicología General Sanitaria (MUPGS), in which the students study practical and theoretical psychology for two years. The main difference between the PIR and the MUPGS is that only the students who have finished their PIR become clinical psychologist who can work in the public and private sector, whereas the MUPGS graduates are only allowed to work in the private sector. Click here to read about the experiences of students.

Clinical psychology makes up the largest specialty area within psychology, which is perhaps why a clinical psychologist is that most people imagine when they hear the word psychologist. However, as many already know, there are several different types of psychologists, and many different fields of study or specializations within psychology. Psychologist work within healthcare and social work, but many psychologists also within education, business, media, communication, management, and human resources.