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Old 01.05.2015, 04:52
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Practicing counseling in Zurich with U.S. credentials

Hi,

I will be moving to Zurich this fall, following my husband who's starting his PhD at ETH Zurich. I have Master's in Biblical Counseling and a license as a Behavior Specialist with about 3 years of experience providing therapy for children and their families. I see that there is a need for English speaking counselor/therapist in the expat community, but was wondering if I can practice with my credentials from the U.S. Does anyone have any familiarity in this area or know where I can look for more information on the topic?

Thank you!
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Old 01.05.2015, 08:34
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Re: Practicing counseling in Zurich with U.S. credentials

You would need to get your qualifications recognised and I think this is the organisation you'd need to contact for that:

"You are a teacher, special education teacher, speech therapist, psychomotor therapist and would like to work in Switzerland at an upper-secondary school within the general education sector.
Contact:
Swiss Conference of Cantonal Directors of Education (EDK)
General Secretariat, House of the Cantons
Speichergasse 6, Postfach 660, CH-3000 Bern 7
Tel. +41 (0)31 309 51 31
Web site: www.edk.ch"

http://www.sbfi.admin.ch/diploma/017...x.html?lang=en

I'm assuming the behaviour specialist part will come under special education, but if not check the PDF in the link to find another organisation which would be a better match. If nothing seems to fit, use the contact point link to get in touch with SERI direct to ask them.
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Old 01.05.2015, 08:39
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Re: Practicing counseling in Zurich with U.S. credentials

Your permit will allow you to work ?
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Old 03.05.2015, 04:59
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You would need to get your qualifications recognised and I think this is the organisation you'd need to contact for that:

"You are a teacher, special education teacher, speech therapist, psychomotor therapist and would like to work in Switzerland at an upper-secondary school within the general education sector.
Contact:
Swiss Conference of Cantonal Directors of Education (EDK)
General Secretariat, House of the Cantons
Speichergasse 6, Postfach 660, CH-3000 Bern 7
Tel. +41 (0)31 309 51 31
Web site: www.edk.ch"

http://www.sbfi.admin.ch/diploma/017...x.html?lang=en

I'm assuming the behaviour specialist part will come under special education, but if not check the PDF in the link to find another organisation which would be a better match. If nothing seems to fit, use the contact point link to get in touch with SERI direct to ask them.
Thank you for the link! I will check it out, although I am more interested in providing individual counseling rather than being employed at a school.

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Your permit will allow you to work ?
I actually am not sure, and I should find out. I guess I shouldn't assume that the resident permit I get as a spouse along with my husband may not allow me to work?

Last edited by 3Wishes; 04.05.2015 at 21:44. Reason: merging successive posts
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Old 03.05.2015, 08:24
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Re: Practicing counseling in Zurich with U.S. credentials

In CH, in order to get licensed as a Psychologist, you have to have your BA & Master's in Psychology. Can't have, for example, an MSW.

If you meet that criteria, you first have to get your US diploma(s)
"Anerkennt" (recognized): http://www.sbfi.admin.ch/diploma/index.html?lang=en

You then have to apply through the Health Administration of Kanton ZH (Gesundheitsdirektion). None of the information is in English. There is a lot of hoop jumping and a mountain of documentation that needs to be provided.

As mentioned, you would also need to know if you are allowed to work with the permit that you have.

Just as it is not easy for a Swiss psychologist to go to the States and get licensed, the reverse is also true. Though it is possible with a lot of perseverance.

Does anyone know if "Coaching" requires licensing? That could be another possibility.
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Old 03.05.2015, 08:55
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Re: Practicing counseling in Zurich with U.S. credentials

What does a Master in Biblical Counseling do for a living?
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Old 03.05.2015, 10:19
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Re: Practicing counseling in Zurich with U.S. credentials

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I actually am not sure, and I should find out. I guess I shouldn't assume that the resident permit I get as a spouse along with my husband may not allow me to work?
No, non-EU dependent's permits do not include the ability to work immediately, they're for residence only. That doesn't necessarily mean that you can't add the work element once you find a job, but it may need approval first to make sure certain conditions are met. Self employment I think would be doubtful, but it may depend on what the cantonal authorities say. Here's some info:

http://www.kmu.admin.ch/kmu-gruenden...x.html?lang=en

Another problem you'll have is on the bank/tax side. US citizens are required to file US tax returns no matter where they live in the world and may also owe US tax on top of the local ones. You would also need to file a FBAR every year for the "foreign", i.e. outside of US, bank accounts you have if the aggregate total comes to more than $10,000 at any time of the year.

http://www.irs.gov/Individuals/Inter...-Aliens-Abroad

You will be required to sign a W-9 form to allow your Swiss bank to send the account info on to the IRS, this is due to the US's FATCA law. As a consequence there are few banks who'll take American clients and none of them are likely to give you a business account.

If the uni is applying for both permits then ask them to get the work part included with yours too if they can.

However, even if you do have permission to work you'll need to have your qualifications recognised first.
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Old 04.05.2015, 04:46
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No, non-EU dependent's permits do not include the ability to work immediately, they're for residence only. That doesn't necessarily mean that you can't add the work element once you find a job, but it may need approval first to make sure certain conditions are met. Self employment I think would be doubtful, but it may depend on what the cantonal authorities say. Here's some info:

http://www.kmu.admin.ch/kmu-gruenden...x.html?lang=en

Another problem you'll have is on the bank/tax side. US citizens are required to file US tax returns no matter where they live in the world and may also owe US tax on top of the local ones. You would also need to file a FBAR every year for the "foreign", i.e. outside of US, bank accounts you have if the aggregate total comes to more than $10,000 at any time of the year.

http://www.irs.gov/Individuals/Inter...-Aliens-Abroad

You will be required to sign a W-9 form to allow your Swiss bank to send the account info on to the IRS, this is due to the US's FATCA law. As a consequence there are few banks who'll take American clients and none of them are likely to give you a business account.

If the uni is applying for both permits then ask them to get the work part included with yours too if they can.

However, even if you do have permission to work you'll need to have your qualifications recognised first.
Thank you for your help on the work permit part. I will definitely find out if my husband's school can take care of that for me and about the self-employment route as well.

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In CH, in order to get licensed as a Psychologist, you have to have your BA & Master's in Psychology. Can't have, for example, an MSW.

If you meet that criteria, you first have to get your US diploma(s)
"Anerkennt" (recognized): http://www.sbfi.admin.ch/diploma/index.html?lang=en

You then have to apply through the Health Administration of Kanton ZH (Gesundheitsdirektion). None of the information is in English. There is a lot of hoop jumping and a mountain of documentation that needs to be provided.

As mentioned, you would also need to know if you are allowed to work with the permit that you have.

Just as it is not easy for a Swiss psychologist to go to the States and get licensed, the reverse is also true. Though it is possible with a lot of perseverance.

Does anyone know if "Coaching" requires licensing? That could be another possibility.
Thank you for the link! Getting licensed in the U.S. is extremely a long process as well...

I would also be curious if anyone knows about the "coaching" possibility like you said.

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What does a Master in Biblical Counseling do for a living?
I provide counseling, like other Master's level counselors do.

Last edited by 3Wishes; 04.05.2015 at 21:45. Reason: merging successive posts
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Old 04.05.2015, 05:22
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Re: Practicing counseling in Zurich with U.S. credentials

@arincoc

Welcome, and well done for trying to find out what you need before you land here.

Slammer asked the question I would have liked to ask, and sorry, from your answer, I still don't know what the service is you provide, probably, I suspect, because of intercultural translation and since it isn't clear to me what YOU mean by what "other Master's level" counselors do.

Do you mean psychologists who offer psychotherapy?
Or Christian listeners?
Or as they are called here, "Seelsorger" (= soul-carer), though many of them, here, do not have (or need) an academic qualification.

Oh, well, my advice is that you try to become very clear on what the specific product is that you offer, and how that could potentially translate into the wide range, here in Switzerland, of "people who help others", some of whom have complex registration procedures with professional boards, and others of which are completely free, unregulated.

Perhaps this link (which I haven't read closely) might help you, or put you in touch with someone in your field (if this is, in fact, related to what you mean):
http://biblicalcounselingcoalition.o...d-switzerland/
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Old 04.05.2015, 06:10
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Re: Practicing counseling in Zurich with U.S. credentials

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I provide counseling, like other Master's level counselors do.
What does a counselor do? Let's just say I went through a European school system and have never met one... and am pretty positive my secondary school did not have one.
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Old 04.05.2015, 08:08
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Re: Practicing counseling in Zurich with U.S. credentials

I just asked my daughter. Apparently at her Gymnasium they do have two counsellors - social workers to whom students can go if they have personal issues they need help with.

You can find out what an M.A. in Biblical Counselling covers here.

It seems to me the most likely parallel here is (as others have suggested) "Seelsorger". Some of these charge for what they do, some do not. Some churches may have counsellors within their congregation. If you don't have a work permit, then you may not charge for counselling.
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Old 04.05.2015, 08:57
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Re: Practicing counseling in Zurich with U.S. credentials

Yep - there are many Americans here, so there could be a need for counsellors.

As for the Swiss, they're the happiest people in the World - until they jump off a bridge or in front of a train ..... or my favourite, the Cathedral bell tower - they want to be close to God ..... before and after.
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Old 04.05.2015, 09:04
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Re: Practicing counseling in Zurich with U.S. credentials

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I just asked my daughter. Apparently at her Gymnasium they do have two counsellors - social workers to whom students can go if they have personal issues they need help with.
Ah, I think the German equivalent was a "Vertrauenslehrer" - two teacher or so got some special training and were suddenly more trustworthy than the rest... for that you needed to be a teacher first though.
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Old 04.05.2015, 09:27
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Re: Practicing counseling in Zurich with U.S. credentials

The first time I heard of a counselor was ships councelor Deanna Troi, and I still donīt know what it is you do.
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Old 04.05.2015, 09:59
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Re: Practicing counseling in Zurich with U.S. credentials

Got it, Jesus loving bible bashing.
http://www.dts.edu/biblical-christia...g-degree-mabc/

Great stuff, only useless in CH, a masters degree is regarded as quite an achievement, currently there are 70-odd masters of art recognized in CH, have a look here if you can find a shoe that fits.
http://www.mastersportal.eu/countries/degrees/268877826/master-of-arts-in-switzerland.html
http://www.masterstudies.com/Masters...e/Switzerland/
Just leave the happy clappy stuff out.
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Old 04.05.2015, 10:52
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Re: Practicing counseling in Zurich with U.S. credentials

Bible bashing usually refers to a particular form of preaching, or what an individual who tries to engage you conversation and keeps referring to the Bible does. You know, like you say "I think the death penalty is a really good thing" and they reply "Ah, but the Bible says 'Thou shalt not kill'", kind of thing. Christian counselling is counselling based on the Christian worldview, and the clients are usually Christians themselves. It's not Bible bashing, it's not a form of evangelism.

Why being happy or clapping is seen as a negative, I'm not entirely sure... and if you visit many conservative churches, you'll find they neither clap, nor are they particularly happy.

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Ah, I think the German equivalent was a "Vertrauenslehrer" - two teacher or so got some special training and were suddenly more trustworthy than the rest... for that you needed to be a teacher first though.
No. In my daughter's school the two people who do this work are not teachers. They are Sozialarbeiteren.
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Old 04.05.2015, 11:15
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Re: Practicing counseling in Zurich with U.S. credentials

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Bible bashing usually refers to a particular form of preaching, or what an individual who tries to engage you conversation and keeps referring to the Bible does. You know, like you say "I think the death penalty is a really good thing" and they reply "Ah, but the Bible says 'Thou shalt not kill'", kind of thing. Christian counselling is counselling based on the Christian worldview, and the clients are usually Christians themselves. It's not Bible bashing, it's not a form of evangelism.

Why being happy or clapping is seen as a negative, I'm not entirely sure... and if you visit many conservative churches, you'll find they neither clap, nor are they particularly happy.



No. In my daughter's school the two people who do this work are not teachers. They are Sozialarbeiteren.
Yeh! I do come over as a bit of a dick in that post, itīs just a knee-jerk reaction to the OPīs rather arrogant (IMHO) answer to my legitimate question.
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Old 04.05.2015, 11:31
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Re: Practicing counseling in Zurich with U.S. credentials

Yes. The OP seems not to understand that Christianity doesn't permeate the mainstream in Europe as much as it does in the US. Despite (or maybe because of) the fact that we don't have separation of Church and State.
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Old 04.05.2015, 12:40
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Re: Practicing counseling in Zurich with U.S. credentials

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No. In my daughter's school the two people who do this work are not teachers. They are Sozialarbeiteren.
Ah, so a Sozialarbeiter is a counselor? In Germany they typically run youth libraries or local youth clubs which have some rooms for all type of social events and hobbies as well as places where the kids from less fortunate backgrounds can do their homework... some of those things are church run, so the bible thing makes sense. But I am pretty positive that none of the ones I met ever learned hebrew or studied the bible as lined out in the curriculum posted above.

Bottom line: I don't think there is a market for a person like this who does not speak the local language. And this is one of the very few jobs where I would fully agree that standard german is not enough but the local dialect flavour 100% essential.
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Old 04.05.2015, 21:16
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Re: Practicing counseling in Zurich with U.S. credentials

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Yes. The OP seems not to understand that Christianity doesn't permeate the mainstream in Europe as much as it does in the US. Despite (or maybe because of) the fact that we don't have separation of Church and State.
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Yeh! I do come over as a bit of a dick in that post, itīs just a knee-jerk reaction to the OPīs rather arrogant (IMHO) answer to my legitimate question.
Okay.

Thank you, NotAllThere for clarifying my position. And, Thank you, many others who offered helpful advices.

Yes, I had no idea 1) there is no such thing as "Master's level counselors" in CH (or other EU nations for that matter), which explains why I thought describing myself as a "Master's level counselor" would suffice in terms of clarifying what I do, and 2) I took Slammer's question and comments about what I do as a "Biblical" counselor somewhat condescending and offensive, which is why I did not bother to go deeply into what my training and work in Biblical Counseling entails.

If my first response came off arrogant, I apologize, Slammer. I was wrong to assume that my explanation would be enough to clarify things for others.

Meanwhile, I am glad to learn that I cannot assume others will understand what I mean as long as we are speaking the same language when communicating with people from diverse cultures.

So, back to the point...

Based on what I am hearing on this forum, I think what I do in the U.S. would be equivalent to the job of "psychologists" in CH. In the U.S., "psychologists" are those who have completed doctoral training. They're able to do evaluation and give formal diagnosis. "Master's level counselors" provide counseling services, listen to people, ask questions, come up with treatment plans, implement interventions... basically, helping people to get through their ongoing problems. While "social workers" could certainly do what we do, they cover a lot more than "counselors" as they also work with bureaucratic side of helping others as well.

The training I received meets all the qualification (at least in the state of Pennsylvania, as state requirements may vary across the country in the U.S.) to be licensed and provide services (what you would call psychotherapy) at a professional level in the U.S. Only difference I have is that I am also trained in theology, biblical interpretation of human problems, and is able to approach things from spiritual/Christian perspective.

I have worked in both secular and Christian settings. In the secular setting, I worked for a social service agency and provided therapeutic services for children with behavioral problems at homes and schools (which involves, assessments, treatment planning, developing interventions, implementing interventions, consultations with parents/teachers, etc). It did not involve anything Christian, but my training still qualified me to understand people's problems and help them. When I am working for a Christian organization, people obviously come seeking help specifically from Christian perspective. The problems they deal with is much the same as non-Christians, but Christianity is something very important in defining their identify and life, so they want their helpers to share that with them. My clients could be children, family, adults, and couples, and I do more of the traditional in-office sessions with them once a week.

Like NotAllThere explained, Biblical Counseling is not bible bashing or anything mystical. It's an understanding of human problems from biblical perspective and helping others to walk through their life, embodying Christ-like love. It also does not necessarily deny the benefits of other ways of helping people. There are biblical counselors with PhD's from secular universities that are licensed as "psychologists" and medical doctors by training who provides psychiatric services. And, biblical counselors CAN help non-Christians because, like NotAllThere also explained, their goal is not evangelism, but helping those who are hurting.

I hope my effort to clarify things with my limited words don't upset anyone or make things even more confusing for others.

On the other note...,
I do understand the language would be a issue in terms of seeking an employment from CH schools/organizations. I would not want to provide any services without being proficient in my client's spoken language. So, that is not the route I will be exploring. I am more interested in providing psychotherapy to the expats who needs the service in English, either within an organization that is specialized in English population or go solo as a private practice. And, I am learning that 1) I need to have a work permit, 2) I need to have my qualification verified, 3) getting employed as a psychologist is extremely hard even for Swiss, and 4) being self-employed as a foreigner is even harder.

Still, it doesn't hurt to explore my options and possibilities before settling down as an unemployable... right? So, I really really appreciate all the help you are providing on this matter. Thank you, Thank you, Thank you.

IF anyone is interested...

What is counseling/what does a counselor do?
http://www.counseling.org/aca-commun...eling/overview

What is biblical counseling?
http://www.ccef.org/

What kind of training arincoc received?
http://files.wts.edu/uploads/images/...15_Catalog.pdf
-> page 95-99

Last edited by 3Wishes; 04.05.2015 at 21:42. Reason: merging successive posts via editing
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