If you are interested in studying forensic psychology, either as a graduate or post-graduate student, this resource will be perfect for you! This article was written by the former EAPL-S representative for Belgium: Eva Scherlippens.
STUDYING FORENSIC PSYCHOLOGY IN BELGIUM (Flanders)
Note: this post mainly focusses on the region of Flanders in Belgium.
Belgium has the reputation of being a boring country but did you know the country was once the Guinness world record holder for the longesttime without a government (541 days to be exact). Besides its headache-inducing political structure (a video for the curious minds: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QlwHotpl9DA), Belgium is also known for its delicious chocolate, waffles, beer, andFrench (Belgian?) fries. It has over 11 million inhabitants and 3 official languages: Dutch (Flemish), French and German.
Education wise, Belgian universities are divided over two language communities: the Flemish and the French. Many of these universities have a strong position in the international rankings. KU Leuven is currently the highest ranking (#81) and also the oldest university of Belgium. Belgian universities are very welcoming to internationalstudents but most courses in bachelor and master programs are taught in Dutch or French (depending on the community responsible for the University). If you are from an EU/EEA country, you can expect to pay around 850 euros for your study fees. Otherwise, you can expect to pay between 1,000 to 4,000 euros.
Forensic psychology in Belgium
However, studying forensic psychology in Belgium is a challenge. Currently, no Belgian universities offer a bachelor or master program in forensic psychology. Most students interested in studying this topic are advised to study psychology or criminology (programs offered by most Belgian universities) instead and cater their program to forensic psychology. For example, when choosing optional courses, thesis subjects or research internships, chose something that is related to forensic psychology.
After obtaining a master in psychology, it is possible to apply for a postgraduate in forensic psycho-diagnostics and counseling at Thomas More University (note: most courses are taught in Dutch). It is a two-yearprogram that mainly focusses on practical application. However, it is very popular and only 25 students are allowed so be prepared. Take a look at their website if you are interested.
Who is who in Belgium
Some of the people working in the field of forensic psychology in Belgium (in alphabetical order)
- Dr. Sarah Bal (Ghent University): trauma in children and adolescents, sexual abuse
- Dr. Patricia Bijttebier (KU Leuven): developmental psychology, abnormal psychology, developmental psychopathology
- Dr. Laurence Claes (KU Leuven): psychopathology (eating disorders, non-suicidal self-injury) and personality, clinical assessment
- Olivier Colins(Ghent University):psychopathy,forensic psychiatry, conduct problems, youth delinquency, violent recidivism, substance use
- Dr. Rafaele Dumas (Université catholique de Louvain).
- Dr. Fabienne Glowacs (University of Liège)
- Dr. Henry Otgaar (KU Leuven)
- Dr. Gina Rossi (Vrije Universiteit Brussel): personality disorders, personality assessment andtreatment, personality pathology in older adults
- Dr. Katarzyna Uzieblo (Ghent University, Vrije Universiteit Brussel): psychopathy, domestic violence, sexual violence, sexual deviant interests, risk assessment
- Dr. Miet Vanderhallen (University of Antwerp): interrogation techniques, interrogation of minors
- Dr. Geert Vervaeke (KU Leuven):psychopathology, psychological assessment, law and legal studies, personality assessment, developmental psychopathology, comorbidity,violence prevention, forensic psychiatry
Some light at the end of the tunnel…
Althoughat this stage,I would not recommend studying forensic psychology in Belgium, it is gaining popularity. Students have become increasingly interested in this topic and organizations such as the Flemish Association of Clinical Psychology are working on making forensic psychology part of Belgium’s academic curriculum.