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The status of graphology in different countries

In alphabetical order by continent

EUROPE

Many professional graphological organizations belong to the European Ethics Society of Graphology (Association Déontologique Européene de Graphologie - ADEG), registered in Belgium with the king’s seal. It was also acknowledged by the Common European Market (1977). ADEG’s Code of Ethics regulates the work of European graphologists who belong to these societies.

o Britain

The study of classical graphology came to Britain from Europe (mainly France, Germany and Switzerland) during the late 1800s and the mid 1900s and since then has been further developed by international advances relating to in-depth psychology and psychoanalytic theory.  Today there are two main graphological organisations in England and one official training college.

The British Academy of Graphology (BAOG) which is based in London,was founded in 1985 by Renna Nezos, a Greek graphologist who trained in France. Mrs Nezos, whose aim was to bring a professional standard of graphology to the UK, went on to publish three academic texts “Graphology”, “Advanced Graphology” and “Judicial Graphology”.  She is one of the founder members of Association De Déontologie Européenne de Graphologie (ADEG) , which was set up in 1990 to harmonise and raise standards of graphology throughout Europe, as well as to promote a rigorous code of ethics.  

The London College of Graphology prepares students for the qualifying exam of the British Academy of Graphology.   This is a four hour written exam, plus an oral exam, overseen by an external examiner and adjudicator.   The course, running since 1985, is international in scope, and is recognised as valid by ADEG.  On graduating with a BAOG (Dip), successful candidates are also entitled to full membership of the Academy.  A further Advanced Exam (BAOG Dip.Adv) is offered two years later by the BAOG and is recommended for those members wishing to enter professional practice.

The BAOG also offers a Correspondence Course, which can be completed in the student’s own time. When they feel ready, correspondent students can sit the qualifying Diploma exam, which, however, must be attended in person. It also offers Continuing Professional Development through its Seminars and Workshops, often presented by international lecturers.

The BAOG journal, Graphology, which commenced quarterly publication in March 1987, is now published in January, May and September and is available to students, members and subscribers.  Its contents reflect international studies and researches, and students can access back issues for study purposes via the Academy website.  

The British Academy also has a significant academic imprint, Scriptor Books which has a booklist of 17 books.  Seven are original titles in English and the remaining 10 are translations of important French, German and Italian classics.  Scriptor Book has also published a series of Study Notes which offers students further reading opportunities on graphological and psychological topics. 

Frank Hilliger founded the British Institute of Graphologists (BIG) in 1983. He trained under Dr Erik Singer, an Austrian émigré who had been a pupil of Dr Ludwig Klages, a pre-eminent German graphologist.  Hilliger gathered a group of interested students around him and formed the BIG as a body that would promote graphology to a high standard. People whom he judged had reached the level of competence to produce an accurate handwriting analysis were admitted as founder members.

The Institute’s journal, The Graphologist, was first published in 1983, the year of the Institute’s foundation and has been published every quarter since then.  

Today, the BIG has a list of teachers on their website who are accredited by the Institute to teach the examination syllabus to students privately to the required standard, which is tested in six examinations, two each year, to gain their Diploma, MBIG (Dip). Some tutors also offer Correspondence Courses to students in various parts of the world.  Since 2014, B.I.G. have also introduced Achievement Awards for exemplary papers at any level.

Short Public Courses are also held at specified venues from time to time. A regular programme of Lectures, Workshops and Seminars are held in central London to which speakers from abroad are frequently invited.

The Library of the British Institute, which holds books, including some valuable and rare books, on both graphology and related topics, and their collected lectures from their series of Symposia, is a valued resource for students and members alike.  

Members of both the BAOG and the BIG and London College students are free to attend one another’s lectures and various congresses, including the IGC Cambridge university meetings, for the purpose of comparative analyses sessions and continuing professional development. (updated November 2014)

o France

France is the cradle of scientific graphology. The French society “La Société Française de Graphologie (SFDG)” was established in 1871. It received legal status in 1901, and was acknowledged as “functioning in the Public’s interest” in 1971. This society is highly respected. Among its honorary members are Nobel Prize winners (Louis de Broglie – Physics; Jean Dausset - Medicine), members of the “French Academy” (Alain Decaux, Jacqueline de Romilly) and cultural leaders, such as Henri Bergson, André Gide, Paul Valéry and Dr. Albert Schweitzer.

The “Syndicat des Graphologues Professionels de France” (SGPF) was created in June 2011 after the merger of two associations, the “Groupement des Graphologues Conseils” and the Syndicate of SFDG. Within the sector of private higher education, recognized by the academic authorities of Paris, the SFDG organizes graphological training  in two modules leading to the SFDG diploma qualified members. The SGFP defends its members, organizes study meetings, and promotes the skills of its members both in professional recruitment and personal areas.

The “Groupement des Graphologues Graphothérapeutes et Rééducateurs de l’Ecriture” (GGRE) was the first organization of its kind in France to offer professional training in graphotherapy. It is recognized by the “Direction Générale du Travail”.

France is the country in which graphology is used most, estimated up to 80% of enterprises. Graphologists are self-employed or work as employees in Human Resources and consulting agencies, and in many companies and industrial plants. The issue of employees’ recruitment is regulated in France by a general 1992 “Workers’ recruitment and individual’s privacy law”. Candidates must be informed of the selection methods that will be used by the employer. Graphological assessment is defined as an official supporting tool for decision-making in personnel selection. It was approved by a committee that included governmental representatives of the Ministry of Labour, and the organization of human resources managers, and in 2002 it received official accreditation from the French Standards Institute (AFNOR), as an equivalent tool to personality tests (AFNOR NFX 50 – 767).

 

In France, Forensic Graphology experts are recognized by the Ministry of Justice, and they obtain their certification by oath in official ceremonies organized by the ministry.

o Germany

Graphology (“Handwriting-Psychology”) has been taught in various German universities for 80 years as part of study programs in philosophy, psychology, criminology and medicine. Some examples:

Prof. Robert Heiss, one of the major German graphologists, chaired the school of Psychology and Philosophy of the Albert Ludwigs University in Freiburg for over 30 years (1943-1973). He introduced two years’ graphology courses that were obligatory for all psychology students. Important psychologists in Heiss’ department were Bender, Szondi and Lüscher (developers of the tests named after them), and Zolliger (one of the Rorschach Test developers). Heiss was also president of the International Rorschach Society. Prof. Oskar Lockowandt succeeded Heiss, until his death in 2000.

Rudolf Pophal was a professor of  medicine and graphology lecturer at Hamburg University.

Lutz Wagner was a graphology professor in Ludwig-Maximilians-University in Munich for 20 years (1955-1975). At present, Dr. Helmut Ploog teaches graphology at that university.

Dr. Gabriele Schmidt, Prof. Dietrich Ebert and Prof. Reinhardt Ludewig have been teaching Graphology (“Psychology of Handwriting”) and Medical Graphology at Leipzig University, since 1994.

The Association of German Psychologists (Berufsverband Deutscher Psychologinnen und Psychologen - BPD) was established in 1946, and one of its first sections was “Handwriting-Psychologists” (graphologists). In 1988 the graphological section Fachbereich Schriftpsychologen consented to absorb also the medical and the environmental psychologists.

Graphology is taught in professional courses and continuing programs by the professional societies belonging to the European Society of Handwriting-Psychology and Handwriting-Expertise (Europäischen Gesellschaft für Schriftpsychologie und Schriftexpertise - EGS).

Private courses are also available, and there are many individual graphologists or those affiliated to other societies than the BDP.

o Holland

The Nederlandse Orde van Grafologen (N.O.G.)  was founded in 1929. The association began as a "Committee of Editorial Staff" that was formed by a group of psychiatrists and neurologists. The association represents the interests of graphology and monitors quality by ensuring a thorough training and practical skills tests before a person can call themselves a graphologists. (updated June 2013)

o Hungary

Since 1994, graphology has been officially recognized by the state, as a “Profession of High Education”. In this classification there are professions that are obtained after matriculation plus higher studies, but not as high as a university degree.

In order to obtain a professional certification of “Diploma-holding Graphologist” one must pass govermental examinations. Courses are given in private institutions. There is still no academic program of graphological specialization, but there are various facultative courses in the University of National Defence and a few accredited colleges within the human resources managers’ studies.

Graphology is a common hiring tool in Hungary. Graphologists are either self-employed or employed by agencies. Their activity is regulated only by the civil privacy law and the laws of contracts. They must be responsible for the professional correctness of their reports and comply with the Code of Ethics of their society.

In May 2005 there was a congress of graphologists and questioned-documents examiners, in collaboration with the Ministry of the Interior and the National Criminological Institute.

o Israel

awaiting update

o Italy

Graphology is recognized by the Ministry of Education. In 1996, the governmental “Office for Universitarian, Scientific and Technological Research” acknowledged graphology studies in universities within the faculties of sociology, psychology, law, and other professional courses. University diploma programs were opened in 1997 as three-year’ courses in the Faculty of Education at L.U.M.S.A. University, Rome and at Universita degli Studi di Urbino “Carlo BO”. Since 2004, there are also Master’s programs in Forensic Graphology, educational and family graphology and in graphological counselling at L.U.M.S.A. Universityand a Master’s program in graphology in Urbino University. In Italy there is strong cooperation between graphologists, psychologists and human resources’ managers. There are common congresses and publications. Job candidates have to agree to have their handwriting analyzed.

Associazione Grafologi Professionisti

o Spain

awaiting update

La Grafologia en Espana

o Switzerland

Graphology has long been respected in Switzerland and taught at Bachelor and Masters level in Switzerland. However, earlier in 2013 the Hochschule für Angewandt Psychologie (HAP Zürich) decided to remove all graphology teaching from its curriculum. Consequently the Schweizerischen Graphologischen Gesellschaft (SGG), which is member of the ADEG, is developing new ways of teaching towards a diploma.

Fortunately graphology is still recognized by the Swiss Professional Association of Applied-Psychologists” (Schweizer Berufsverband für angewandte Psychologie - SBAP). Since 2003 they have a separate section for “Professional Psychologists in Handwriting- Psychology” There are also other graphological societies in Switzerland, and one does not have to be member of SBAP to work as a graphologist.

The present prerequisite for acceptance as member of the section of “Handwriting-Psychologists” in the SBAP

  •     Professional or academic studies in psychology as the main subject.
  •     Graphology course accepted by the Swiss Graphological Society (still to be determined)

    Alternatively, graphological studies in parallel non-university institutes:

NORTH AMERICA

o Canada

There are three private schools of graphology recognized by the Association des Graphologues du Québec

Institut de Psychographologie de Montréal (IPGM)

Institut Grapho-Logique enr.

Société des spécialistes en graphologie du québec inc

(updated May 2013)

o U.S.A

Thanks to the efforts of Rose Matoussek, in December 18, 1989, the United States Department of Labor removed graphology from the category of "Entertainment" in the Dictionary of Occupational Titles (DOT) now found under o-net since handwriting analysis was utilized by companies for personnel selection, doctors, counselors, attorneys, academic administrators, etc. The current definition is: "GRAPHOLOGIST (profess. & kin.) 199.267- Analyses of handwriting to appraise personal characteristics: Obtains handwriting specimen to observe overall appearance of writing and detailed formation of letters. Measures height of letters and slant of writing, using calibrated templates. Observes individual's writing strokes to determine unique or distinguishing characteristics, using ruler and low-power magnifying glass or microscope. Evaluates handwriting sample to determine similarity to or divergence from style taught in school. Interprets findings according to theories of handwriting analysis. May use diagram to plot writing characteristics. "SOC Code: 3990 GOE Code: 02.04.01"

Rose Matoussek promoted also the change in the Dewey Decimal Classification System by the Library of Congress, so that graphology was removed on August 18, 1980 from "occult" to "psychology, document examination and personnel screening”. The reasons were apparently that there is no element of future prophesy. Rather, graphology deals with the recorded evidence of a writing trail unique to each individual from which measurements and objective ratings are made

There was a move to stop the use of graphology for personnel selection in Rhode Island that was defeated. Dr. Marc Seifer led a successful fight against this attempt and testified a few times before the Rhode Island state Senators. His convincing argument was that all “personality inventory tests” are based on the same premise that a person projects his personality into all that he does. Consequently, if one bans graphology then one must also ban all forms of personality tests used by companies, such as the MMPI, Myers Briggs, etc.

In Oregon, the Labor Committee of the State Senate, supported by the Oregon State organization of labor unions AFL-CIO, intended in 1991 to change an existing 1988 law, that had outlawed the polygraph and other means for personnel screening by adding the words “...and handwriting analysis”. A volunteer committee, led by Gary Brown and Dr. Ellen Bowers, testified at the hearings. Eventually, the committee didn't have the votes to outlaw handwriting analysis. During the next two sessions of the legislature, similar attempts to outlaw handwriting analysis were again unsuccessful. Thea Stein Lewinson, who had studied graphology in Germany in the 1930’s, worked for many years as the chief graphologist of the CIA. In the 1970’s and 1980’s, the CIA was actively recruiting graphologists, also during congresses of some American graphological associations.

Prominent contemporary graphologists include Ruth & Sarah Holmes and Shiela Lowe and a wealth of information can be found on their web sites including application of graphology ranging from family to forensics.

SOUTH AMERICA

o Argentina

In 1995 Professor Julio Cavalli presented to the General Directorate of Education of Buenos Aires a project to recognize graphology as an autonomous discipline with its first academic program. This was approved in 1996, Argentina had the first official training programme in graphology, and consequently it is a recognized profession.
Now many institutes offer training, for example:  Centro de Estudios Superiores, Emerson, ICEA, CEBA, etc.

It is important to note that upper level study in Argentina is divided into two: technical and degree. Study of graphology is categorised as technical rather than University however, the technical level can be completed with an university articulation. Some universities have “Extension courses” without official recognition such “Universidad de la Policía Federal” or  “Universidad Católica Argentina”, both in Buenos Aires.

In 2000? an “honorary doctorate” was awarded to the Spanish graphologist Mauricio Xandró by the “Universidad Argentina de Flores” in Buenos Aires  for his life work. (updated May 2013)

 

Acknowledgements

Ruti Abarbanel - Israel
Dr. Zeev Bar-av - USA
Erika Barna - Hungary
Nigel Bradley - UK
Dr. Angelika Burns - Switzerland
Julio Cavalli - Argentina
Prof. Sergio Deragna - Italy
Esther Dosch - Switzerland
Claudio Garibaldi - Italy
Lorraine Herbert - UK

Dr. Urs Imoberdorf - Switzerland

Bernadette Keefe – UK

Aliza Loebstein - Israel
Prof. Silvio Lena - Italy
Sheila Lowe - USA
Prof. Hideki Oshiki - Japan
Vincenza de Petrillo - Italy
Dr. Helmut Ploog - Germany
Mark Reddy - USA
Dr. Gabriele Schmidt - Germany
Patricia Siegel - USA
Teut Wallner - Sweden
Dafna Yalon - Israel

 

 

page last updated 6 December, 2015

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