Course Features

  • Enables clinicians to practice as family therapists in Ireland and abroad
  • Covers theory of systemic psychotherapy, clinical practice, personal professional development, and research
  • Clinical experience in years 2 and 3 in established family therapy services
  • Live Supervision of clinical practice is a central and unique feature of this course
  • Graduates are registered with the Family Therapy Association of Ireland and the Irish Council of Psychotherapy

Course Overview

This course will appeal to those people who are interested in training as a Psychotherapist to a high level of knowledge and skill. Systemic Psychotherapists work with relationships in the context of families, couples and other groups. It is a creative, innovative and thought provoking model of Psychotherapy which places ethics at the heart of the work.

The application closing date:

09 June 2023

This Programme is for graduates of the human sciences or suitable candidates applying under the APL (Approved Prior Learning) System who have relevant experience of working with people in a responsible caring role and who wish to develop  their theoretical and clinical skills and qualify as Systemic Psychotherapists. 

The Programme will appeal to:

  • Psychiatrists in training who are required to undertake psychotherapy training in some modality
  • Psychologists
  • Social workers
  • Nurses whose task in mental health requires specialist training in couple and family therapy
  • Child care professionals whose task requires preparation for the management of complex treatment plans in the delivery of child care strategies
  • Addiction counsellors desiring to extend their therapeutic repertoire to include family and couple therapy skills
  • A range of other individuals who are re-directing their career pathways towards psychotherapy

Course Description

This course is directed at a broad range of health and social care professionals who wish to develop their skills and knowledge in working as Systemic Psychotherapists with individuals, couples and families.  Live supervision of Clinical Practice is central to this training supported by core subjects of Theory and Methodology, Research and Personal/Professional connections.  The integration of Clinical Practice, Systemic Theories, Psychotherapy Research and Self reflection is key to this training.

Students on the programme will develop an understanding of systemic theory and methodology and its application in clinical practice.  Students will practice their clinical skills in live supervision sessions and will have opportunities to develop their ability to reflect on personal and professional connections in the therapeutic context. Through the completion of a Dissertation, students will develop skills in Research methodology and practice.

The M.Sc. in Systemic Psychotherapy aims to progress students along a path leading towards responsible creative therapeutic practices as independent practitioners in both Health/Social Care and Private Practice settings.  Through a mixture of skill development, theoretical education and enhanced capacity for self reflection, the course facilitates the growth and development of students as practitioners concerned with an extensive array of clinical presentations.

Course Content

  • The M.Sc in Systemic Psychotherapy is a four year part–time training Programme comprising a total of 21 modules which translate into 120 ECTS
  • Years 1 and 2 together lead to a Graduate Diploma in Systemic Psychotherapy which comprises 60 ECTS
  • The four year training seeks to facilitate the formation of a fully trained and accredited Systemic Psychotherapist who has integrated four core training elements into an approach to practice

The four elements of the training are as follows:

Theory and Methodology

Students will be learning about the emergence of the Systemic Family Therapy tradition from its origins in the 1950’s to current time.  Topics covered will include Systemic Theories and Practice; Social Constructionism; Narrative and Dialogical Therapy; Socio-cultural and Ethical issues in Systemic Practice; Psychopathology and its critiques; Theories of Human Development; and an introduction to Research in Systemic Practice.  The learning will occur in weekly lectures / seminars and will be based upon relevant prescribed readings.

Clinical Practice  (based on live supervision and retrospective supervision)

Students will undertake weekly clinical work as part of a supervised training group.  In year 4 of the programme students will obtain their clinical practice outside of the training context and will receive retrospective supervision for this within the training programme.

Personal Psychotherapy Exercises (PPE)

This training element is realised through a weekly facilitated group experience in addition to weekly written exercises.

Research Design and Methodology

Each year the training provides teaching in Research Design and Methodology. This element of the course culminates in the student production of a Dissertation (12,000 –15,000) words.


Modules in the four main strands of the programme are delivered over the four years. Each year of the programme is divided into the following modules:

  • Year One: four modules             
  • Year Two: six modules            
  • Year Three: six modules
  • Year Four: four modules

Each of the modules are core modules. There are no electives.

Please find more specific information about the year modules at the links below:

Year One: four modules
PSYC40020 Observing Systemic Practice
PSYC40120 Systemic Practice: Foundation
PSYC40130 Contemp. Systemic Theory Y1
PSYC40240 Psychotherapy Exercises 1
Year Two: six modules 
PSYC40050 Contemp. Systemic Theory Y2
PSYC40080 Ethics in Systemic Practice Y2
PSYC40090 Integration Y2
PSYC40180 Research Y2
PSYC40200 Live Supervision Y2
PSYC40250 Psychotherapy Exercises II
Year Three: six modules
PSYC40030 Retrospective Supervision Y3
PSYC40060 Contemp Systemic Theory Y3
PSYC40100 Integration Y3
PSYC40190 Research Y3
PSYC40210 Live Supervision Y3
PSYC40260 Psychotherapy Exercises III
Year Four: four modules
PSYC40070 Contemp. Systemic Theory Y4
PSYC40140 Retrospective Supervision Y4
PSYC40270 Psychotherapy Exercises IV
PSYC40280 Research Y4



This four year part-time Masters (M.Sc.) in Psychotherapy degree is delivered in UCD School of Medicine.

Established in the 1980s this Programme has developed both a national and international reputation as a centre of training excellence.

Our experienced faculty of teachers and trainers has ensured that the programme offerings at M.Sc. level invite student engagement right at the cutting edge of developments in systemic therapy. Alongside course faculty, a continuing flow of clinicians and teachers of international renown contribute to the education and training of Masters level students.

The minimum four-year MSc in Systemic Psychotherapy is accredited by the Family Therapy Association of Ireland (FTAI) a constituent member of the Irish Council for Psychotherapy (ICP) which is a member of the European Association for Psychotherapy (EAP) 

Eligibility criteria

This graduate level programme is open to candidates who have three years graduate level training in the human sciences (medicine, psychology, social work, sociology, education, etc) or its equivalent.  Applicants must have relevant experience of working in a responsible and caring role with people. During training they will be expected to work in a setting which provides opportunities for clinical practice.

Applicants must have:

  • A primary degree in the human sciences (medicine, psychology , social work , sociology, education etc.) or its equivalent.
  • Equivalence through Accreditation of Prior Learning (APL): Candidates applying through this route must demonstrate clearly that they have equivalence to an undergraduate degree in a field relevant to psychotherapy or have a combination of work and life experiences that add up to a similar competency.
  • Relevant experience in working with people in a responsible and caring role.
  • To be in a work setting or role which will provide candidates with opportunities to implement their learning such as  work within the helping professions, counselling support services and /or project / community work.
  • Names and contact details of two referees who can assess a) your academic and  b) professional abilities.
  • If English is not your native language, unless you have done your primary degree through English in an English speaking country, an English language qualification is required for all programmes.
  • Successful applicants will be required to consent to garda clearance being sought which is standard procedure for professionals engaged in direct work with young people and families.
  • International applicants should contact the Academic Programme Director for a full list of entry requirements.
  • Applications are now being accepted for this programme
  • The next intake will be September 2023
  • Deadline: Application closing date is the 09 June 2023 
  • Applications for this course must be made on-line at


Areas in which Systemic Psychotherapists have previously secured employment or developed experience in independent practices include:

  • Primary Care Settings
  • Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services
  • Adult Psychiatric Services
  • Voluntary Agencies providing Couple and Family Therapy
  • Family Resource Centres
  • Family Court work
  • Private Practice

Graduates from the programme have a qualification that is recognised within Europe, which facilitates employment mobility.

With regard to the anticipated deployment of Psychotherapists throughout the Health Services  (Ref. Vision for Change 2006 Dept. of Health and Children) Psychotherapy graduates from this programme will have met all the requirements for employment as registered Psychotherapists

For more information on course fees please visit the Fees & Grants Office website.

Programme Coordinator:

Dr. Valerie O'Brien
T: 00353 1 716 6602

Key Information:

  • Major Code X437
  • Duration 48 months
  • Schedule Part-Time
  • Next Intake September 2023
  • Application by 09 June 2023

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