Clinical Psychologists Up Pressure on Health Ministry Over Oversight Panel's Makeup

Psychologists' forum refrains from setting a date to examine trainees, who say they are 'pawns in a political struggle'.

Chief psychologists from the country's psychiatric institutions have decided to postpone the final exams of clinical psychologists in training, as part of their protest against the Health Ministry.

The psychologists are demanding a change in the way the Health Ministry's Council of Psychologists is staffed in order to increase the clinical psychologists' representation. They say the council is acting to strengthen psychological research at the expense of clinical therapy.

Prof. Yoel Elitzur
Yoel Kantor

"We're dealing with draconian changes and clinical psychologists in universities will consider not accepting them," a senior member of the clinical psychologists' strike committee said.

The chief psychologists' forum, one of the bodies representing the clinical psychologists, has refrained from setting a date to examine 120 clinical psychologists who have recently completed their training in state psychiatric hospitals.

The exams were due to be held in the spring. Trainees are required to pass an oral exam on a test case in psychotherapy and psycho-diagnostics in order to receive a Health Ministry certificate in clinical psychology.

The trainees have recently formed a group to fight against delaying the exams and posted an online petition that has already been signed by 80 people.

"We are pawns in a political struggle, which is damaging our ability to make a living. We feel the system has abandoned us. Already we have no work positions as trainees, and we cannot find new work places because we haven't been certified," one of the group activists said.

The psychologists launched their struggle after the appointment of Professor Yoel Elizur of the Hebrew University as chairman of the psychologists council. Elizur held elections for staffing the council's subcommittees, including the clinical psychology committee, despite the clinical psychologists' objections.

The psychologists' leaders said they do not recognize the committee, headed by Dr. Shimon Kornitzer, demanding to either revoke it or add four members agreed on by the chief psychologists. They also demand a larger representation for clinical psychologists, who make up the majority of Israel's psychologists in Israel, in the psychologists council.

The Health Ministry has rejected their demands.