This article is adapted from "Lithuania National Tour" prepared by R. Ciurlioniene & R. Povilaitis, 2009, which appeared in Wedding, D., & Stevens, M. J. (Eds). (2009). Psychology: IUPsyS Global Resource (Edition 2009) [CD-ROM]. International Journal of Psychology, 44 (Suppl. 1).
The situation and development of psychology in Lithuania is inextricably related to the socio-political situation of country and its rather dramatic history. Scientific psychology and the beginnings of professional psychology in Lithuania sprang from Wilhelm Wundt at Leipzig University, where some physicians got the doctor's degree after the independence of the country was re-established in 1918. During the years of independence (1918-1940) there were favorable conditions to develop psychological science. Some psychiatrists and psychologists went abroad for advanced training and afterwards established the first research centers. By 1921, the first scientific article promoting psychotherapy and analyzing the theories of Freud, Adler, Jung, hypnosis and rational psychotherapy was published. Books were written and translated; teachers, physicians and nurses were willingly putting psychological methods into practice.
The soviet occupation in 1940 and again in 1945 held up the development of psychology. The Department of Psychology in Vilnius University was closed; psychology was ideologised and based only on dialectical materialism. Only in the 1960s was the Department of Psychology re-established. Although all study programs were made in Moscow, all attempts were made not to become apologists of Marxist psychology. Every chance was used to go to eastern Europe (Poland or Eastern Germany) where ideological restraints were not so strict, or to read any book "from there." Starting in 1978, the "Vilnius Spring Seminars" for clinical psychologists were organized. They became well known in the former USSR; applied clinical psychology and psychotherapy in Lithuania were the best developed among all soviet republics.
After 1990, when the independence of Lithuania was re-established, a time of great changes and opportunities began. The new study programs, possibilities to go abroad and to consult world-known professionals – all these raised expectations. However, it is not surprising that after the fifty years of the soviet period there are also many challenges and problems to be solved. These include the formation of a new system of psychological help, the preparation of licensing regulations, and the promotion of the image of psychology in the eyes of public, particularly since the need for psychological help in society is really high.
Research in Lithuania is organized mostly in academic surroundings, such as at Vilnius University or Kaunas Vytautas the Great University. But as the situation in Lithuania if very problematic (very high suicide rate, no twenty-four-hour crisis centers, psychological help available only in towns, but not in the countryside), applied psychology is of great importance.
The study of psychology at Vilnius University consists of two stages: four years of bachelor studies (general psychology studies) and 2 years of specialized master's studies of clinical, educational and organizational psychology. Post-graduate studies are also available, but only for two to four persons per year. Psychology studies at Vytautas the Great University follow the same scheme, but are not so specialized. Clinical psychology studies are available only at Vilnius University.
There are no special governmental regulations and requirements for training professionals and applied psychologists in Lithuania. Since 1990 Vilnius University is autonomous and programs for studying psychology are prepared and approved by the Clinical and Social Psychology Department and the General and Educational Psychology Department.
The Lithuanian Psychological Association sponsored a law governing psychological practice which was adopted by the parliament of Lithuania.
A code of ethics for Lithuanian psychologists was approved by the Lithuanian Psychological Association in 1996 and applies to all psychologists.
Psichologija. Mokslo darbai, 1980- , 1-2/year