Autogenic training and art therapy compared. Can artistic interventions be effective in the sense of the S3 guidelines?

The recognition of autogenic training as a method in the therapeutic setting is much more established than that of art therapy. For example, Autogenic Training is often used in behavioral therapy contexts and is indicated for many disorders, with few exceptions, e.g., acute psychosis. In addition, autogenic training as a relaxation method in the preventive field is billable by health insurance, whereas art therapy as a method is generally not covered by the health system in the outpatient setting. A more solid and comprehensive study situation with significant results regarding the effectiveness and efficacy of art therapy is indispensable for the recognition of art therapy methods in the health care system.

Büter, Leukhardt, Franzen, Heider, Reboly, Donges: PT/W Universitätsambulanz & Martin Gropius Krankenhaus Eberswalde

Health Promotion (Prevention) in Art Therapy - Effectiveness of Nonverbal Methods in Stress Reduction (2020)

As part of the university course in art therapy (ULG KT), new creativity-oriented prevention courses are currently being developed, which will be offered at the SFU Outpatient Clinic and evaluated as part of master’s theses. New prevention courses developed by the SFU are then to be submitted here for approval to the German Prevention Agency. A first concept is already in the evaluation phase and is to be submitted for approval at the end of 2020. This course is aimed at people who are looking for regeneration and relaxation through creative promotion. Over the course of eight weeks, participants can achieve vegetatively effective recovery. Psychophysical tensions can be relieved and a relaxation response that can be integrated into everyday life can be promoted. A way of life in which space for oneself, contact with one’s own feelings and thoughts can be experienced can be stimulated with the contents of the course. Calmness, trust and acceptance form a framework for sensually lively self-experience. The combination of relaxation exercises, creative work and reflective group discussion about the creation of the work, the work itself and its effect, strengthens self-esteem and mental health. In this way, well-being can be enhanced even beyond the duration of the course. A relaxation exercise at the beginning creates both distance from everyday life and a focus on inner experience.

In each unit, creative solutions are tried out playfully on different topics. Creativity, which can be experienced with all the senses in the art therapy design process, carries healing potential and leads to relaxation. Inner psychological experiences can be expressed, perceived, reflected and integrated into everyday life. The reflection of needs, one’s own resources and also difficulties deepens. Options for action emerge free of performance and without judgement, which can offer very different perspectives for decisions and strategies. Entrenched patterns of evaluation that contribute to the experience of stress can be better recognised and give way to new perspectives. This experience of self-efficacy has a positive effect on everyday life. In this way, stress-producing demands can be transformed into challenges that can be overcome and thus strengthened.

The examination of the individual personality and its development through self-exploration in the creative art-therapeutic process is intensified in the subsequent group exchange. In the combination of creativity and relaxation, resources for individual stress management are strengthened. It conveys joie de vivre and well-being as an expression of mental health. The course supports the rewarding and joyful motivation to actively commit to one’s own goals and requirements. A publication will follow in July 2021 in the journal Musik-Tanz & Kunsttherapie.

Project lead: Prof. Dr. Georg Franzen in collaboration with Silke König, MA, among other graduates of the training in Art Therapy.

Prescription of Art Therapy

Preparations for a research project on the prescription of art therapy have been underway since 2018. This project was discussed in advance together with insurance representatives and Prof. Dr. Georg Franzen /Prof. Dr. Karl-Heinz Menzen in October 2018. In this project, insured persons are to be treated with art therapy methods over a period of two years. The project is to be evaluated by the SFU. The treatments are to take place in the SFU outpatient clinic. The pilot project is still in the application process. The project is to start in 2021/2022. An initial evaluation was conducted in November 2019. It is about an art therapy offer with the following focus:

Art therapy (ART) with dementia patients is not only oriented towards the work experience of men or the domestic experience of women, as is the case with occupational therapy. It seeks to use visual means to compensate for the breakdown of orientation, language, meaning and action, but also for the visual-emotional competence of those affected, neurologically speaking, the damage and/or breakdown of circuits of neurons of neocortical brain areas that are apparently no longer available in such a way that those affected can master their everyday life without difficulty. To put stimuli of our perception back into context on the basis of a temporal given and order, to offer them in such a way that the affected persons are able to synthesise and synchronise the elements of perception again – that is the goal of a pictorial reconstructive art therapy.
Outpatient social psychiatric care: Within the framework of outpatient social psychiatric care for children and adolescents (social psychiatry agreements), activities of art therapists are also possible. Although the professional group is not listed separately in the framework agreements, art therapists who choose a social psychiatric focus certainly have prospects for employment in a medical focus practice. In addition to parts of the therapy planning after the medical psychiatric diagnosis, art therapists can be involved in various tasks of the social psychiatry agreement. Here, the art therapy focal points in the outpatient practice are to be evaluated in a network.

Project lead: Prof. Dr. Georg Franzen, Prof. Dr. Karl-Heinz Menzen


  • Karl-Heinz Menzen (2004) Kunsttherapie mit altersverwirrten Menschen. Basel: Reinhardt
  • Karl-Heinz Menzen (2018). Grundlagen der Kunsttherapie. Stuttgart: utb.
  • Franzen, G. (2011). Kunsttherapie im Rahmen der Sozialpsychiatrie-Vereinbarungen. In: Ruth Hampe/Peter B.
  • Stadler (Hg.). Multimodalität in den Künstlerischen Therapien. S.127.133.Berlin: Frank & Timme.

Cultural Participation of People with Mental Health Issues

Cooperation between Kunstmuseum Celle, Sozialpsychiatrischer Verbund and SFU Berlin.

The project is intended to document the results of a museum project carried out in 2019 and 2020 by art therapy students of the Sigmund Freud PrivatUniversität Berlin in cooperation with the Kunstmuseum Celle. As part of the nationwide “Mental Health” action week, admission to the museum and participation in the actions and workshops was free for all visitors. In the networking and interlocking of art-therapeutic approaches and museum-educational concepts, the museum functioned as a place of encounter between art and soul.

One of the goals was to promote the participation of people with mental illness in cultural experience. However, the focus was on the possibility for each museum visitor to experience an intensive encounter with the work of art through deepened sensual-symbolic experiences. A symbolic experience is filled with psychic energy. This psychic energy is conveyed through the artwork. The viewer can engage with the pictorial worlds and experience an energetically occupied relational space, which can then trigger or set in motion conscious and unconscious processes at the same time.

Only a real engagement with the work of art or the art space enables a corresponding experience. Here, the participants are first asked to relax, to arrive, and then to calmly engage with the artwork. The task is to immerse themselves in the work of art and to really take time for it.

The museum visitors were guided to take time for an art object in order to enter into a dialogue with the art. The focus was on questions about the work, questions about the interaction with the work, questions about the person and their own life, and questions about the experience of the work. The art-therapeutic process includes ways of discovering, shaping, letting go, discarding, accepting, processing and changing. Through the designed material, the familiar is questioned, movements are perceived, connections to the past process are recognised and connections to the current situation are established. Rigid and fixed forms as well as fragmentations express themselves in the process and in the material. A way emerges to change the old form and to discover and realise the new. The creative process that takes place through painting and designing on the outside is an expression and reflection of the inner world.

The focus is on empathy with the work of art, an important prerequisite for understanding the “meaning-content” and absorbing something of the “psychic energy” of the work of art:

  • To experience and understand one’s own ideas, feelings, memories, perceptions, opinions and fantasies from the past as one’s own personality part in relation to the work of art.
  • To learn something about one’s own aesthetic point of view in order to reflect symbolic understanding also from an artistic point of view.

A relationship is formed between the artwork and the viewer, which makes it possible to relive the artistic-symbolic content:

  • How do I experience these pictorial worlds?
  • How do I perceive this sensual experience?

In fact, all emotional experiences are inherent in a work of art – and those of them that are perhaps furthest away from the viewer always find their way to him or her. Because of their complexity, works of art are able to provide a rich palette of associations and reactions for patients.

The whole project is currently being evaluated and the results will be published in 2021. The aim is to explore the possibilities of receptive art therapy in the museum setting. Practical projects will be presented and discussed. Processes are described, documented and reflected upon.

The project presents an innovative practice-oriented approach to receptive art therapy. The results presented here and the questions arising from them can serve, among other things, as a basis for innovative art therapy-oriented museum concepts and likewise for empirical work. The publication will be published in 2021 as a book by Georg Franzen/Julia Otto and published by Pabst-Verlag under the title “Kunst trifft Seele. Receptive Art Therapy in the Museum – Results of a Museum Project”.

Project lead: Prof. Dr. Georg Franzen, Dr. Julia Otto
Project assistants: Naira Bloss, Drazana Knezevic, Nina Pestke, Ulla Utasch, Anika Wloch

The Creativity of the Therapist - a Central Factor of Effectiveness

This project was introduced with a first large art therapy conference in November 2019 at the SFU-Berlin and takes place in cooperation with the German Society for Art Therapy (DGKT) and the International Society for Art and Design Therapy.

Speakers at the first conference in 2018 included Prof. Dr Louise Reddemann, Prof. Dr Silke Schauder* (Paris) and Prof. Dr Ruth Hampe* (Bremen). Project leaders Prof. Dr Georg Franzen (SFU- Berlin), Prof. Dr Ruth Hampe (Bremen), Prof. Dr Renate Wigger* (Freiburg). The second meeting took place in November 2019 and will be continued at SFU-Berlin in November 2020.

One of the first results of the work is the founding of a research association for music, dance and art therapy under the auspices of the SFU; the office will be located at the SFU-Berlin at the Department of PTW/ULG KT. In the meantime, 15 professors from various universities in the field of KT/PTW (psychotherapy science) have networked with the SFU. A separate internet address is currently being set up:

The network will be presented in May 2021. Publication of the contributions is assured and will take place in Volume I. Autumn 2020, Verlag Karl Alber,
Volume II, December 2020 Pabst Verlag, Volume III Spring 2021 Verlag Karl Alber.


  • Franzen, G., Hampe, R., Wigger, M., et al. (2020). Zur Psychodynamik kreativen Gestaltens: Künstlerische Therapien in klinischen und psychosozialen Arbeitsfeldern. Freiburg: Karl Alber.
  • Franzen, G., Menzen, K.H. (2020). Unbewusste Bilder. Von Raum-Zeit-Relationen in den Künstlerischen Therapien. MTK 2/2020. Lengerich: Pabst.

Project lead: Prof. Dr. Georg Franzen, Prof. Dr. Karl-Heinz Menzen, Ass.-Prof. Dr. Kathy Reboly u.a.
Research Associate: Univ.-Ass. Alena Leukhardt, M.Sc.

Psychotherapy in Times of Covid-19: Video Treatments in Psychodynamic Psychotherapy

In the wake of the Corona pandemic, video-based treatments have seen a turnaround. It can be assumed that the change of setting from traditional treatment to the video-based setting (and back again) has an impact on the therapeutic relationship and thus on the therapeutic process (Eichenberg, 2020). In the project Psychotherapy in times of Covid-19: Video treatments in psychodynamic psychotherapy, it will be investigated to what extent the change from traditional treatment to video therapy in the course of the corona setting affects the therapeutic process. Through the use of modern media in the therapeutic context, the danger that boundaries will be crossed is high (Eichenberg & Küsel, 2017). Partly for this reason, a systematic investigation and reflection of this therapeutic transition is essential. Within the framework of a qualitative study, group-specific, semi-structured interviews will be used to investigate how therapists and patients experience the change of setting and what influence on the therapeutic relationship is observed from both sides. In addition, it will be determined which factors are associated with the non-use of video telephony as a way of bridging the temporary risk situation, both for therapists and patients.

Within the framework of a flash survey (N = 4466) of the German Psychotherapists Association (DPtV) in April of this year, it emerged that the majority of the therapists surveyed prefer treatment in face-to-face contact for therapeutic reasons (78%) and assess the effectiveness of video treatments as worse in comparison to face-to-face contact (59%). According to this survey, more than half of the patients continue to be treated in face-to-face contact. Nevertheless, some of the respondents were clearly in favour of enabling video treatment in the current situation (DPtV, 2020). Especially in psychoanalytic circles, arguments for and against video therapy are discussed ambivalently. It is important to systematically investigate and map psychodynamic processes in the transition from traditional treatment to video therapy as well as during video treatment in order to be able to discuss indications and contraindications in a well-founded and differentiated manner (Eichenberg & Hübner, 2018).


  • Bering, R. & Eichenberg, C. (2020). Die Psyche in Zeiten der Corona-Krise. Herausforderungen und Lösungsansätze für Psychotherapeuten und soziale Helfer. Stuttgart: Klett-Cotta. Eichenberg, C. & Hübner, L. (2018). Psychoanalyse via Internet: Aktueller Stand der Diskussion um Möglichkeiten und Grenzen. Psychotherapeut, 63(4), 283–290.
  • Eichenberg, C., & Küsel, C. (2017). E-Mental Health: Potenzielle Grenzverletzungen. Deutsches Ärzteblatt, 12, S.590-592.
  • Deutschen PsychotherapeutenVereinigung (2020, 01. September). DPtV Umfrage: Psychotherapeutische Videobehandlungen. Abgerufen am 07. September 2020, von

Project lead: Univ.-Prof. Dr. Christiane Eichenberg, Dr. Alla Kirsha
Research associates: Alena Leukhardt, M.Sc., Maximilian Heider, M.Sc.
Scientific Advisory Board: Prof. Dr. Georg Franzen, Ass.-Prof. Dr. Katharina Reboly

Ethics in Psychotherapy (Comparative Study)

The development of a joint research project in cooperation with Prof. Dr. Steger, University of Ulm, is planned for 2021: ‘Ethics in psychotherapy’ (comparative study).

Research question: What values do students of psychotherapy science have in different countries (Austria, Germany, Slovenia, France, etc.)?

Data collection: questionnaire or interviews (10 min.)
Aim: to define the central value system of the focus group ‘students’.

The university didactic implementation of the German Approbationsordnung in the academic direct study programme in psychotherapy


The Federal Council has finally passed the Psychotherapy Act II, which was passed in the German Bundestag on 26 September 2019. It is planned to implement the reformed training to become a psychotherapist within the framework of a relevant direct training throughout Germany from the winter semester 2020/21: the training of psychotherapists will then be regulated within the framework of a direct study of psychotherapy, which concludes with the licence to practise and is followed by five years of further training in a scientifically recognised specialist qualification (“guideline procedure”). Future psychotherapists in further training (“PiWs”) receive appropriate remuneration for their work. On completion of their further training, psychotherapists can be entered in the medical register of the Kassenärztliche Landesvereinigungen (Regional Associations of Statutory Health Insurance Physicians) and thus acquire access to activities within the framework of the statutory standard care systems. The training path, which is new for Germany and can serve as a model for the European didactics of psychotherapy, provides for five years of relevant university studies according to the Bologna criteria, which ends with a state examination and leads to professional authorisation under the title of “psychotherapist”. Up to now, so-called psychological psychotherapists in Germany had to complete a full course of studies in psychology; since September 2020, the study of psychology is no longer a prerequisite for access to the profession of psychotherapist.

The developments of the psychotherapy reform in Germany are groundbreaking, sustainable and paradigmatic for the development of the subject into an independent academic discipline. The anchoring of the profession of psychotherapist thus secures the clear status as an academic medical profession and leads to the adjustment and differentiation of the areas of competence. As a result, the current paradigms in training, teaching and psychotherapy research are being rethought and new paths are being taken in order to meet the high demands of the profession. Psychotherapy can no longer be classified as an appendix, paradigm discipline or sub-subject of exclusively psychology or medicine in the academic and professional canon of subjects. The time has come to define the contour of psychotherapy as a science and profession in terms of method and content in the context of a psychotherapy science in harmony with its reference sciences in order to integrate aspects of content and structure. In this way, psychotherapists of the coming generations develop an initial professional identity in the sense of the “scientific practitioner model” and achieve expanded competences and professionalisation for the academic but at the same time outpatient, inpatient and preventive areas as well as care structures. Specifically for the development of the profession in Germany, this means a historic milestone in establishing direct training or direct study in psychotherapy (science) for the areas of professional practice, further training and the academisation of the subject in a sustainable way for the next generations. This puts Germany at the forefront of international psychotherapy development.

Methodological diversity | Complex challenge of psychotherapy science

The integration of (related) sciences and the prevailing methodological pluralism in psychotherapy as well as the simultaneously independent and justified positioning according to its nature are ultimately the complex challenge to postmodern and future-oriented psychotherapy science. The specific understandings of science, method, theory and profession reflect a part of the complexity and the dynamically continuing discourse of the human history of culture and ideas.

In the course of this, highly didactic questions at universities and training institutes are becoming increasingly virulent: How does one learn psychotherapy? How does one teach psychotherapy? Innovative university didactics and student-centred teaching are needed to enable curricular coherence in the triad of theory, practice and personal development, whereby teaching should clarify the synopsis between scientific theories and methods and professional and life practice.

Project lead: Ass.-Prof. Dr. Katharina Reboly & Univ.-Prof. Dr. Georg Franzen

„How does talking cure? Effective factors of therapeutic talking to each other

The Heigl Foundation funded project “How does talking cure? Wirkfaktoren des therapeutischen Miteinander Redens” is being carried out at the Psychological University of Applied Sciences Berlin under the direction of Prof. Dr. Antje Gumz in cooperation with the SFU (Prof. Franzen, Prof. Reboly) and various other cooperating training institutes throughout Germany.

The three-phase project investigates the differential effects of talking to each other that lead to therapeutic changes. In two qualitative preliminary studies (phase I) psychotherapists and patients (VT, TP, AP) were asked how exactly talking together heals, i.e., which curative functions they experienced. A broad spectrum of relational, cognitive, emotional, and behavioral effective factors emerged.

The identified categories were then used to create a questionnaire – the Therapeutic Talking Together Impact Factor Inventory (Phase II). 
The aim is to investigate how these effect factors are related to relevant process characteristics and therapy outcome in different therapeutic procedures and in teaching therapies.

Project information in German (pdf)

Digital Media in Health Prevention

In September 2020, reimbursable and prescribable apps, also in the form of podcast formats for the prevention, but also treatment and therapy of mental disorders, will come onto the market. New technical possibilities in the course of the digital turn have reached the health sector. The development of a synopsis and management of digital feasibility, psychotherapeutic-clinical implications, (data protection) legal conditions, health policy and economic interests as well as ethical perspectives are becoming increasingly important. Which regulations and certifications need to be defined in order to enable the benefits of developing such a format as an additive care offer in times of Corona? 

Project lead: Univ.-Prof. Dr. Georg Franzen & Ass.-Prof. Dr. Katharina Reboly in cooperation with the Institute for Media & Digital Journalism @SFU Berlin

Gender Study Group of SFU Vienna

All ongoing and finished research projects of the Faculty of Psychotherapy Science are available in the SFU Research Projects Database.