The COVID-19 pandemic is putting a tremendous strain on mental health, increasing the demand for psychotherapy. Psychotherapeutic sessions traditionally take place in personal contacts, which should be kept to a minimum in times of a pandemic. At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, there was a strong switch to distance therapy formats (especially video telephony, voice telephony). One year after the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, however, a strong trend back to the classic setting in personal contact could be observed in Austria. It is not yet known whether this trend continued in the last year of the pandemic, or whether there was an increased switch to online formats due to new, more contagious variants. Changes in the format in which therapeutic services are provided, as well as increased demand for mental health services, are also increasing the demands placed on psychotherapists and clinical psychologists. Little is known about the effects of the pandemic and the associated occupational stress on people working in the field of mental health care. The aim of the present study is therefore to ask psychotherapists about their current work situation in the current COVID-19 situation. In addition to the therapy format, a focus is placed on their psychological well-being. Since clinical psychologists work, among other things, in the field of clinical-psychological treatment of behavioral disorders, psychological changes and states of suffering, this professional group is included in the present study. Concrete questions of the study are: - How do clinical psychologists and psychotherapists experience their professional work in times of COVID-19? - What are the stress levels, well-being and work-related sense of purpose in clinical psychologists and psychotherapists in times of COVID-19? Do these differ from the general population and are there aspects that influence this (e.g. self-employment)? - Are there differences in the professional practice (e.g. frequency of sessions, therapeutic alliance, proportion of sessions at a distance vs. sessions in personal contact) between psychotherapists and clinical psychologists? - Are there differences in stress levels, well-being and work-related meaning between psychotherapists and clinical psychologists? To answer these research questions, an online survey will be created using the REDCap platform (CoreFacility) hosted at the University for Continuing Education. A link to the online survey will be sent to all psychotherapists and clinical psychologists entered in the official list of the Federal Ministry for Social Affairs, Health, Care and Consumer Protection. In order to be able to examine changes over time, a follow-up survey is planned in about 1 year with the same questions. The repeated measurements make it possible to map professional challenges for psychotherapists and clinical psychologists during different times of the COVID-19 pandemic.


Duration 01/03/2022 - 31/12/2023

Department for Psychosomatic Medicine and Psychotherapy

Principle investigator for the project (University for Continuing Education Krems) Assoz. Prof. Priv.-Doz.Dr.Dipl.-Ing. Elke Humer, MSc BEd Bakk.


Jesser, A., Steinböck, A., Pammer, B. Ghorab, T.; Weber, M.; Schaffler, Y.; Probst, T.; Felnhofer, A.; Kothgassner, O.; Pieh, C.; Humer, E. (2024). Burdens and resources of Austrian clinical psychologists: results of a qualitative study two years into the COVID-19 pandemic. BMC Psychology, 12/205:

Santillan-Ramos, P.; Humer, E.; Schaffler, Y.; Pieh, C.; Probst, T.; Felnhofer, A.; Kothgassner, O.; Netzer, I.; Jesser, A. 6 and Andrea Jesser 1,2* (2024). Impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the work of clinical psychologists in Austria: results of a mixed-methods study. Frontiers in Psychology, 15:1302442:

Schaffler, Y., Probst, T., Pieh, C.; Haid, B.; Humer, E. (2024). Prevalence of mental health symptoms and potential risk factors among Austrian psychotherapists. Scientific Reports, 14, Article number: 3888: 10.1038/s41598-024-54372-7

Humer, E.; Pammer, B.; Schaffler, Y.; Kothgassner, O.D.; Felnhofer, A.; Jesser, A.; Pieh, C.; Probst, T. (2023). Comparison of mental health indicators in clinical psychologists with the general population during the COVID-19 pandemic. Scientific Reports, 13: 5050

Winter, S.; Jesser, A.; Probst, T.; Schaffler, Y.; Kisler, I.-M.; Haid, B.; Pieh, C.; Humer, E. (2023). How the COVID-19 pandemic affects the provision of psychotherapy: Results from three online surveys on Austrian psychotherapists. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 20(3): 1961

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