Introducing the Professional Masters in Systemic Psychotherapy

The UCD School of Medicine has launched a Professional Masters in Systemic Psychotherapy, replacing the MSc in Systemic Psychotherapy, which was first established in 1989. The new programme is designed to empower students to become proficient family therapists in Ireland and abroad. 

The programme addresses individuals, couples and families and unlike most psychotherapy programmes in Ireland, it is a professional masters, level 9, providing students with a specialisation on graduation. The 180 credit weighting of the programme reflects the professional training involved. The programme is accredited by the Family Therapy Association of Ireland (FTAI); the Irish Council for Psychotherapy (ICP) and by the European Association for Psychotherapy (EAP). 

The programme is a creative, innovative and thought-provoking model of psychotherapy which places ethics at the heart of the work. It is suited to those who are interested in training as a psychotherapist to a high level of knowledge and skill. The programme will appeal to psychiatrists in training, psychologists, social workers, nurses, child care professionals, addiction counsellors and a range of other professionals who are redirecting their career pathway towards psychotherapy. 

As previous student Ailish Halton-Hand states, Training in Systemic Psychotherapy provides an unparalleled opportunity to explore the philosophical roots of the assumptions we hold as truths while developing skills and knowledge in the art of psychotherapy for the individual, family, couple or team. Importantly, it equips me with a European Licence to practise as a Systemic Psychotherapist outside of Ireland.’’

The programme offers a comprehensive curriculum covering a broad spectrum from the theory of systemic psychotherapy to clinical practice, personal and professional development and research. Clinical experience is a significant aspect of the programme, with Years 2 and 3 dedicated to hands-on training in established family therapy services, with the unique feature of live supervision of clinical practice. Students continue to build their independent practice hours across Years 3 and 4 - which is in addition to the team work carried out under direct supervision.

The teaching and core values of the curriculum emphasise the importance of diversity and inclusion, research-informed clinical practice, the value of blended teaching and learning, and the development of online psychotherapy skills to equip students for the future of therapeutic practice.

Previous student Eileen Finnegan says, ‘‘Since completing the MSc I have set up my own service working systemically with many different organisations in Child Protection who have welcomed working collaboratively from this systemic approach.”

The programme is led by Professor Valerie O’Brien (PhD, Associate Professor, Systemic Psychotherapist, Director of the Systemic Psychotherapy Programme) and more about the full academic team can be found under the Meet the Team tab here.

Paul Kelly, Senior Clinical Psychologist at UCD Student Counselling Service, completed the MSc. Systemic Psychotherapy, saying, ‘‘it will assist me to integrate practices and ideas into my current clinical context which will improve options for further professional development.”

To find out more about the Professional Masters in Systemic Psychotherapy and to apply, visit the programme webpage. If you would like to speak with a team member about the programme, please contact Giselle Ripardo at or Prof Valerie O’Brien at 087055523