Life has its ups and downs, and family life can bring all sorts of challenges, especially when you’re living in a foreign country and / or far from family.
So who do you turn to in Belgium if you, your partner, your child, or your family in general, need some external help to deal with challenging situations or feelings, and find a way to enhance your / their quality of life?
Where can I seek help?
Most of us want to be able to express ourselves in our native language when dealing with mental health issues. Thankfully, in Belgium, there is a good selection of multilingual psychologists, psychotherapists and psychiatrists.
Community Help Service
The Community Help Service (CHS) has been offering mental-health support to English-speaking expats since 1971. They offer:
- counselling and psychotherapy from psychologists, psychotherapists and psychiatrists that have a wide range of professional experience; and
- a 24/7 helpline offering crisis support.
Their multilingual team of therapists can also offer sessions in other languages, such as French, Dutch, German, Catalan, Greek, Hebrew, Italian, Lithuanian, Russian, Spanish, and Swedish. Check out their team for more on languages and specialities.
Other English-speaking private psychotherapy and counselling services
There are many private psychotherapy and counselling services available in Belgium, including English-speaking psychiatrists and therapists.
The website of the Belgian Commission of Psychologists provides a comprehensive search tool, allowing you to find practitioners close to you, speaking a particular language.
Mental healthcare for children in Belgium
CHS has a specialist Children, Adolescents and Family Team which offers child and family psychotherapy, as well as behavioural and other problem assessments. They also offer particular testing for specific areas of learning difficulty, available in English, French and German.
Whether parental guidance (where the parents attend sessions without the child) or individual therapy with the child is required, is discussed with the parents. If individual therapy is deemed necessary, this is adapted and tailored to the child’s development level, age and needs.
Pediatric mental health care is also available in many hospitals in Belgium, including the Queen Fabiola Children’s University Hospital, which has a dedicated children’s psychiatry unit consisting of clinical psychologists and neuropsychologists of the various paediatric and child psychiatric services of the hospital.
How much do therapy sessions cost?
The cost and duration of therapy sessions with a psychologist, psychotherapist or psychiatrist varies but is typically about €50-70 for a 45- to 60-minute session, though some practitioners charge up to €100 or more.
- a psychiatrist (or psychotherapist / psychologist who is a medically qualified doctor), are well reimbursed. For example, for a €90 consultation, the reimbursement is around €60.
- a psychotherapist or psychologist who is not medically qualified are not well reimbursed, and you can only claim back a limited amount (around €10) per session from your mutuelle, usually limited to around 10 sessions per year.
For therapists working with Community Help Service, fees are discussed up front, and CHS stresses that they will not turn someone away for lack of funds.