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Research focus:  

Institut für Psychotherapie und medizinsche Psychologie
Klinikstraße 3, 97070 Würzburg

Scientific members:


   Outside lecturer:

   Scientific assistants:

   Other participating persons and organisations:

Research foci (and basic equipment-based research projects):


The Institute for Psychotherapy and Medical Psychology was founded in 1958 as the first of its kind in Germany. It attends to issues pertaining to research, teaching and patient care. Its interdisciplinary orientated research directions range from the conceptual and clinical investigation of the basics and mechanisms of psychotherapy to the empirical exploration of coping with chronic disease and rehabilitation. In the academic courses provided, the Institute represents four subjects in the training of medicine: medical psychology and sociology (pre-clinical semesters), psychotherapy and psychosomatic medicine (clinical semesters). As regards health care, the Institute
runs a psychotherapeutic outpatient department and provides consiliary and liaison services for the university clinics.


The Institute at present counts over ten co-workers employed on a permanent basis as well as seventeen other scientific employees, financed by support from research foundations etc.). There is a close cooperation with the clinics of the medical faculty. The Institute is in overall charge of the Rehabilitation Research Network of Bavaria (Rehabilitationswissenschaftlicher Forschungsverbund Bayern/RFB) and possesses a department of rehabilitation sciences which maintains the central
office and research methodological consultation of the RFB. Meanwhile, the Institute furthermore has a faculty chair for rehabilitation sciences at its disposal.

Emphases in healthcare

Within the framework of an outpatient department, the Institute is active in therapeutic diagnostics and the treatment of patients with neurotic disturbances, personality disorders and psychosomatic diseases as well as in the psychological care of the physically ill. Moreover, it provides all the university clinics with psychosomatic consiliary and liaison services. Additionally, the Institute offers a wide range of specifically clinical fields, e.g. hypnosis and relaxation techniques, partnership and family therapy, psychodynamic psychodrama therapy, treatment of speaking anxieties, speaking inhibitions and speaking disorders, psychotherapeutic treatment of patients with diabetes mellitus, groups against flight phobia, psychotherapy for patients with a post traumatic stress disorder, supportive client-centered therapy, weight reduction groups, psychosocial diagnostics and counselling before gastric-banding surgery, psychosocial diagnostics before kidney donation, psychosocial diagnostics of transsexuals, training therapies, internal and external supervision.

Research topics

Coping with illness and rehabilitation

Severe and chronic physical diseases confront the affected person with psychosocial stress which he/she has to overcome. In several projects, the coping and rehabilitative processes of physically ill persons are investigated. A particular interest exists here for the subjective disease theories of the patients and the evaluation of specific psycho-educational programmes.

The following patient groups are being investigated in cooperation with both the university clinics and rehabilitation clinics:
cancer patients - amongst others breast cancer, lung cancer, hematologic-oncological diseases, Morbus Hodgkin, - coronary heart disease, chronic heart failure, chronic hepatitis C, diabetes mellitus, musculoskeletal diseases.

Genetic diagnostics in familial breast cancer

In a project performed together with the Institute for Human Genetics and the university's Gynaecological Clinic, women who had been diagnosed with familial breast cancer or come from high-risk families and who had received a genetic consultation and, where necessary, had undergone testing were examined regarding risk perception and psychological stress. In order to document their long-term effects, the Foundation for German Cancer Aid endorses interdisciplinary research projects at eleven centres in Germany.

Psychological diagnostics preceding medical intervention

Invasive medical measures often require good cooperation during the treatment (compliance) and a life adjustment from the patients. This is the case, for example, with the treatment of severe adipositas through a gastric-
banding operation. All patients are examined psychologically before the operation and ensuing it. Also patients with renal disease, who are contemplating a live kidney donation, and their relatives are examined psychodiagnostically before the transplantation. Similarly, a careful diagnostic assessment and psychotherapeutic treatment (where necessary) is offered before the appropriate measures of the hormonal or surgical transformation of transsexuals.

Psychotherapeutic research, psychotherapeutic diagnostics and indication

Based on the data (obtained by means of detailed basic and research documentation in the Institute), a large number of fundamental research investigations of the processes of the diagnostics and indication could be carried out. In this way, both quantitative-empirical and qualitative analyses could be implemented. The theoretic questions concern the patient-related factors of the differential indication as well as the characteristics of the therapeutic working relationship and its impact on the treatment selection.

Another research emphasis is placed on the analysis of the nonverbal and expressive components of the doctor-patient relationship, which can be operationalised empirically by video coding. Further projects deal with the effectual factors in psychotherapy, the newer developments in the understanding and psychotherapy of compulsive/obsessive disorders, the nonverbal interactional behaviour of patients with functional pain syndrome, as well as the cognitions and their modification within psychotherapy - presented by means of the example of anxiety disorders.

Quality management in psychotherapy and psychotherapeutic care research

Qualitatively high-standing psychotherapy and a care structure which meets the needs of patients are the aim of modern healthcare. On the one hand the goal of this research is to work out and test concepts of quality control, which are the basis for the peculiarities of psychotherapy and which suit the characteristics of the care field. On the other hand, besides the assessment of care and needs, these concepts also approach the question how to realise proper psychosocial and psychotherapeutic care structures on the basis of a biopsychological model of disease and health in a modern healthcare system.

Scientific theory and research methodology

The Institute has a longstanding philosophical tradition which predesignates it to investigate methodological basics in the study of psychotherapeutic processes. Both hermeneutic, and qualitative and quantitative empirical research methods are employed. Singly, these are - amongst others - the drafting and comparison of different assumptions as to the concept of mankind in psychotherapy and the development of Hermeneutics as a basic psychotherapeutic principle.

For specific information on research projects see also chair for psychotherapy and medical psychological, faculty chair rehabilitation sciences and Rehabilitation Research Network

Training and further education

The Institute for Psychotherapy and Medical Psychology offers a wide palette of possibilities for further education: such as for the "specialist in psychotherapeutic medicine" (possibly unnamed in future in "specialist for psychosomatic medicine and psychotherapy"), the additional terms "psychotherapy" and "psychoanalysis", teaching syllabus for the "specialist for psychiatry and psychotherapy", furthermore the qualification "psychosomatic basic care" and psychosomatic further education for the specialist expressions of the clinical-somatic subjects. Similarly, the Institute takes part in the training of "psychological psychotherapists".

A cooperating partner is the "Frankonian Community for Further Education for psychotherapeutic medicine and psychotherapy" - founded by the Institute for Psychotherapy and Medical Psychology, which includes psychosomatic and psychiatric clinics in the region of Northern Bavaria and Northern Baden/Northern Württemberg. Further cooperating partners are the Institute for Psychotherapy and Analytical Psychotherapy Würzburg and the Centre for Integrative Psychotherapy, University of Würzburg.

Cooperation in committees

Prof. Lang is chairman of the "Deutschen Gesellschaft für anthropologische und daseinsanalytische Medizin, Psychologie und Psychotherapie" as well as chairman of the "Fränkischen Weiterbildungsgemeinschaft für Psychotherapeutische Medizin und Psychotherapie".

Prof. Lang is a member of the Board and medical training head of the "Institute for Psychoanalysis and Psychoanalytic Therapy Würzburg".

Prof. Lang is co-editor of the "Zeitschrift für Klinische Psychologie, Psychiatrie und Psychotherapie".

Prof. Lang is a member of the International Editorial Board of the "American Journal of Psychotherapy" and is responsible here for the coordination of the psychotherapeutic/psychosomatic English-language contributions from German researchers.

Prof. Lang is a member of the scientific advisory council of various journals, amongst others the "Zeitschrift für Medizinische Psychologie", "Texte - Zeitschrift für Psychoanalyse".

Dipl.-Psych. Benecke is a member of the Board of the German Society for Medical Psychology.

Prof. Faller is 2nd chairman of the German Society for Medical Psychology.

Prof. Faller is an expert for medical psychology at the Institute for Medical and Pharmaceutical Examination Questions (IMPP) in Mainz.

Prof. Faller is Speaker of the Rehabilitation Research Network (Rehabilitationswissenschaftlicher Forschungsverbund Bayern/RFB).

Prof. Faller led the working group "Design-Standards" in the research program rehabilitation sciences.

Prof. Faller is sectional leader "Behavioural Medicine and Psychosomatics" of the "Zeitschrift für Medizinische Psychologie [Journal of Medical Psychology]" and a member of the scientific advisory council of the journal "Rehabilitation".

Dr. Schmidt is a member of the Board of the German Society for Anthroplogical and Existential Analytic (daseinsanalytisch) Medicine, Psychology and Psychotherapy.

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Rewards and prizes:

Honours, appointments

Prof. H. Lang received the Égner-Prize of the University of Zurich.

Prof. H. Lang is honorary member of the Sociedad de Neurologia, Psiquiatria y Neurocirugia de Chile.

Prof. H. Faller received a vocation for a professorship for psychosomatic medicine at the University of Ulm in 2001.

Prof. H. Faller is the first prize-winner of the Springer-Psychotherapy-Prize.

Dipl.-Psych. A. Benecke received, together with Prof. Lang and Prof. Ertl, the 3rd poster prize of the German Adipositas Society in 2001, with the subject "Are there predictors for the premature breaking off of a long-term weight reduction program?"

Dipl.-Psych. A. Benecke received the poster prize of the German Diabetes Society in 1997, with the subject "Insulin rest function in type II diabetics".

Dr. H. Vogel is honorary member of the working group Clinical Psychology in the rehabilitation in the Berufsverband Deutscher Psychologinnen und Psychologen (BDP).

Prof. H. Weiß received, together with his working group, the 2nd poster prize of the working group for neurological intensive medicine for his paper on Guillain-Barré patients.

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