This article is adapted from "Iceland National Tour" prepared by H. Thorgilsson and I. J.Hauksson, 2008, 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).
Two eminent scholars, Agust H. Bjarnason and Gudmundur Finnbogason introduced psychology as an academic discipline in Iceland at the beginning of the twentieth century. There wasn't, however, a separate department of psychology. Professor Bjarnason wrote a textbook of psychology in 1924 which was to be, for many years to come, a rich source for psychological knowledge both for students and the reading public. Dr. Finnbogason published in 1917 a book called Work and Reason on the psychology of work and activity at a time when this branch of psychology was just beginning to take its first steps.
The Icelandic Psychological Association was founded in 1954. There were nine founding members. They had studied in the inter-war years in Germany and France, during the postwar period in Scotland, Norway, and Denmark. They led the way in establishing school psychological services and in the employment of psychologists in the health system. For several years to come Icelanders had to seek abroad for university education in psychology. The next generation went mainly to Great Britain, France, U.S.A., Germany, and the Scandinavian countries. This pattern has continued to this day. However, in 1969 a new chapter was begun in the history of Icelandic psychology when the first department of psychology was established at the University of Iceland. The study was organized as a three-year program ending with a B.A. degree. Icelandic students must still go abroad for further education, but the department of psychology will in 1999 start a program leading to the M.A. degree.
The membership of the Icelandic Psychological Association began to grow in the latter half of the 1970s when students returned home after having finished their studies abroad. About 25 percent of the members are women. The members are divided in their occupation approximately in these proportions: 25 percent work in schools, 25 percent work in the health services, and one half is divided among several professions, mainly teaching, administration, and private practice.
The majority of psychologists in Iceland work in applied settings. A few of the bigger organizations expect their psychologists to engage in research. The following institutions are primarily engaged in psychological research: Social Science Research Institute; Educational Research Institute; Perception Laboratory, Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Iceland; Sleep Research Laboratory, Department of Psychiatry, National University Hospital, Reykjavik.
The applied settings are for the most part in a mental health hospital setting or in the school system. The research is varied but may to some extent focus on issues that are specific to Iceland like the standardization of psychological tests.
Those seeking to be Board Certified by the Ministry of Health in an applied aspect of psychology (e.g., clinical psychology) need to work in a setting where their work can be supervised by those already Board Certified. The training has not yet been formalized. A number of the larger settings where psychologists work can provide a training environment, for example, Psychological Services at the University Hospital. There are regulations concerning the requirements to become Board Certified by the Ministry of Health. These have to do with work experience, supervision, continuing education, and publication. Currently there are four types of Board Certifications issued by the Ministry of Health. Most of those are issued in clinical psychology.
These regulations apply to all that seek to become Board Certified.
The code of ethics adhered to in Iceland is extensive and is shared by all the Scandinavian countries' psychological associations.
Icelandic Psychological Journal, 1993- , 1/year