This one year programme offers a route to clinical training in the domain of psychotherapy through the provision of an academic foundation in the theoretical and clinical literature in the field. Serving as a ‘foundation’ year, students are well placed on completion, to make an informed decision on the modality of psychotherapy in which to train.
It is taught by practitioners in the field and is suited not only to trainees or practitioners in disciplines within the mental health arena but also to applicants from non-cognate areas who may be considering embarking on a clinical training in psychotherapy.
Graduates will achieve an understanding of the complex theories and concepts that underlie the main modalities of psychotherapy. These include the transference-based therapies - of which psychoanalytic psychotherapy is the exemplar, the cognitive therapies, the integrative therapies and family and group therapies. The course aims to inform a graduate’s subsequent choice of psychotherapy strand in which to train. As part of continuing training in a specialised strand, graduates will be eligible to apply for one of a suite of MSc programmes currently on offer in the UCD School of Medicine and Medical Science.
The course is delivered in 6 modules (5 taught and 1 dissertation), all of which are core requirements for the award of Higher Diploma. Of the taught modules, 4 lead to 5 ECTS each and 1, which is a synoptic module related to research methods and clinical applications accounts for 15 ECTS. The 6th module is by dissertation and contributes 25 ECTS.
Attendance must be 80% or higher for the duration of the course. Assessment is by continuous assessment for the taught modules and a mark for the thesis.
There will be no written examinations. The continuous assessment for each of the 5 taught modules has both formative and summative components. The summative assessment in modules 1 and 2 will be in the form of two 2,500-word essays and two ‘in-class’ group assessments . In modules 3 and 4 assessment is by ‘in-class’ group assessments only. This assessment type will be informed by case vignettes presented by the teaching staff leading to small group presentations and subsequent submission of short written reports. For module 5 students will be evaluated on the basis of a learning journal compiled week by week over the course of the year.
Module 6 leads to a 6,000-word thesis and will be supervised by an individual thesis supervisor. Progression on the thesis will be also be monitored at group level during the research and clinical applications seminar (module 5).
Theoretical Overview of the Psychotherapies
Beginning with a historical introduction, the fundamental concepts and premises of the major approaches in psychotherapy will be explored. Classical theories of development from infancy to old age will be examined as will the psychoanalytic position that psychotherapeutic practice engages with the existence of unconscious mental processes. Awareness of psychotherapeutic diagnostics will be developed and the potential for the development of psychotherapeutic interventions in the context of the mental health and primary care services will be identified. This module also gives emphasis to the clinical features, epidemiology and aetiology of the main psychiatric disorders. The concepts of risk, vulnerability and resilience and the continuities and discontinuities of psychiatric disorders throughout the life cycle are also examined.
The Therapeutic Relationship in Psychotherapy
The module will highlight different perspectives on the therapeutic relationship among the psychotherapies while focussing on the professional context of the therapeutic alliance as informed by different ethical positions, codes of practice and the requirements for confidentiality. The specifics of working with clients of different ages and developmental levels will also be addressed. The challenge of the phenomenon of transference for psychotherapy and mental health settings will be highlighted. Questions of interpretation and supervision will also be introduced.
This module introduces Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), visual art and drama therapies and elaborates further on the principles of Freudian and Lacanian psychoanalysis as these apply to the treatment of psychosis and other clinical categories e.g. addiction, eating disorders, criminality etc. Students will be given an opportunity to gain knowledge of the general principles of CBT and therapy-specific techniques, such as working with negative automatic thoughts, dysfunctional assumptions and core believes. In addition to traditional CBT methods and practices the class will be familiarized with CBT for children and adolescents. Clinical applications of these psychotherapy models within the mental health/primary care setting will be emphasised as will related research opportunities. Through the group assessment process this module will additionally provide a stimulating and varied learning experience that will benefit the class group as a whole.
Among the various therapeutic modalities presented in this module are: Cognitive Analytic Therapy (CAT), Dialectical Behavioural Therapy (DBT), Humanistic and Integrative Psychotherapy, Constructivist Therapy, and solution focussed brief therapies. Jungian and Adlerian schools of thought will also be introduced. The module concludes with a presentation of the principles of Group therapy and Family therapy. Commonalities and differences between the major schools of psychotherapy will be distinguished. As before, this module will be enriched by the group assessment process.
Research and Clinical Applications Seminar
Emphasis will be placed on the challenges, both ethical and logistical posed to research by the field of psychotherapy. While appreciating that different case material emerges from different forms of psychotherapy practice, case material contributed by the major psychotherapy approaches will be responded to and analysed in the context of research possibilities and limitations. Research methodologies suitable for the evaluation of therapeutic outcome in psychotherapy will be studied with a view to assessing research opportunities in the field within the Irish context.
Students will submit a 6,000 word thesis at the end of the year. Direction in formulating their proposal and in progressing their written work will be monitored and supported in designated seminars interspersed in the research and clinical applications seminar. Students will also have an individual thesis supervisor assigned to them.
The list of contributors to the teaching of this course includes:
Jude Bowles, Dr Richard Blennerhassett, Gerard Butcher, Aine Casey, Orla Crowley, Dr Mary Cosgrave, Mary Cullen, Dr. Michelo DelMonte, Dr Grainne Donohue, Dr. Leonard Douglas, Dr Nicola Elmer, Monica Errity, Dr. Malcolm Garland, Dr Claire Hayes, Dr Terence Larkin, Maura Leahy, Dr Rik Loose, Dr Anthony McCarthy, Ros McCarthy, Malachi McCoy, Karina Melvin, Stephanie Metcalfe, Mary O’Doherty, Dr Barry O’Donnell, Paula Rock, Dr Emer Rutledge, Dr John Sheehan, Kim Spendlove, Diarmuid Stokes, Martina Vaughan.
Further contributors may be added to this list.