Many foreign language speakers in Finland would want to access therapy in their own language or with a foreign therapist, but are unable to afford the cost of private psychological therapy and psychotherapy. Here we explain why this problem exists and what our therapists at Compass Psychology are doing to fix the situation.

Since 2017 the lack of subsidy for most of our clients (foreign language speakers in Finland) to see a psychologist or therapist has been a huge issue for prospective clients. Compass Psychology is a private psychology service and attending psychology sessions regularly is a significant expense for all clients, apart from those who are able to access us through health insurance schemes from workplaces and other organisations.

Many clients contact us asking for KELA subsidised psychotherapy. This subsidy is available to those with a psychiatrists referral who need rehabilitative psychotherapy for 1 to 3 years, and it provides about 56€ subsidy per session. But we are not able to offer KELA therapy at this time, or even HUS subsidised psychotherapy. The reason for this is that the way psychotherapy is regulated in Finland excludes nearly all foreign educated therapists, due to the differences in how psychotherapy is taught in Finland compared to most other countries. For example, in many countries Clinical Psychologists are taught therapy as part of their training, but in Finland this type training is not recognised as psychotherapy training.

Therefore although most of us are qualified to give free or highly subsidised psychology services in our home countries (through national health or health insurance programs), we cannot do that in Finland.

However there is some good news on the horizon:

  1. There is currently a proposal to allow all registered psychologists to provide Step 1 (short-term) subsidised therapy, which would be a fantastic development. We hope that the Finnish Psychologists Union is successful in this proposal, as this would mean all the psychologists at Compass Psychology could offer short-term subsidised therapy in future. Read more about it here in Helsingin Sanomat, or here on the Psykologiliitto homepage.
  2. Compass Psychologists Jane Tuomola, Annabel Battersby and Hatty Francis-Ehnholm have worked voluntarily since 2018 on a regular basis to address this unfair situation through ongoing voluntary and advocacy work. They helped to start an association, Psychological Practitioners Finland ry, which works to reduce barriers to work for foreign-educated professionals working in Finland and improve access for foreign language speakers to services from these professionals. The association has nearly 50 members, and you can read more about PPF ry from this website. You can also find professionals speaking different languages on the website here.
  3. Compass Psychologists have also voluntarily worked with PPF Ry to help write and build a flowchart to help migrants and foreigners navigate the public mental health services in Finland. While these services are free, it is often confusing and complicated to find the right service in Finland and difficult to know where to ask for help. You can read more here: Additionally, there is a list of FREE services on the website of Psychological Practitioners Finland ry, for example short term therapy options available for free in the Helsinki region through Mieppi or Mieli Ry, or other charities such as Helsinki Missio. For a more comprehensive list see this page:
  4. Recently, in June 2023, Compass Psychology psychologist Annabel Battersby donated her time to organise and attend a panel discussion in English on Mental Health Issues for Foreigners in Finland at Suomi Areena. This 45-minute debate was a very well-attended event in a larger national annual debate event in Pori. You can watch the full discussion in English on MTV Katsomo with this link here. For the first time that we are aware of in Finland a migrant was invited to the stage to talk about the lived experience of mental health issues and how difficult it can be to access mental health services as a foreigner.

Compass Psychology therefore supports free and accessible mental health care through supporting their psychologists to work voluntarily to promote the needs of migrants and foreigners in Finland. We believe passionately that mental health care should be not only possible to access, but also easier and cheaper.

We hope that soon in the future we can offer subsidised therapy. One of our psychologists, Dr Hatty Francis-Ehnholm, is undertaking psychotherapy training in Finland and will be able to offer subsidised therapy when she completes training in 2026.

In the meantime we are able to offer help immediately for those who are able to afford private health care. We now have six psychologists in our practice speaking six languages: English, Swedish, Finnish, German, Dutch and Spanish. Email to arrange a free phone call with one of our psychologists.