Leadership in Therapeutic Child & Social Care

Carlow College - St. Patrick's

Leadership in Therapeutic Child & Social Care

The M.A. (Leadership in Therapeutic Child and Social Care), validated by Quality & Qualifications Ireland (QQI), is based on our well-established MATCC programme which has been running in the college for over 20 years now. It emphasises the skills and abilities required for leading therapeutic care in practice.

What is so unique about this programme?
Compared to most Irish taught masters in Social Care, we believe that the personal development element of our course is as important as the professional and academic elements. While the course is not a training in psychotherapy, it is more comparable to such a training than to other taught Masters. For example, the course day begins with a personal check-in, has an experiential group at its centre and closes with a check-out.

Who is this programme for?
Qualified practitioners in Social Care (and similar professions) who wish to work therapeutically and at a deeper level. They may be leading or intending to lead and want to make a difference. And they may already suspect that ‘home is where we start from’.

Where can you expect to go?
Graduates of this programme typically move onto assume positions of responsibility in their workplaces. It prepares graduates for leading a process of change towards a more therapeutic and progressive quality of practice in social care and other person-centred professions. Graduates also engage in consultancy work and lecture in third level institutes.

Subjects taught

The course is taught over two years, one day a week, and has a maximum class group size of 16 students. This programme has a core aim to enhance the learners’ knowledge and skills in the use of a variety of therapeutic approaches to the treatment of children and adults who have suffered emotional and psychological hurts. It emphasises a psychodynamic understanding of human development and of the therapeutic alliance. This psychodynamic approach looks beyond presenting behaviour to what the behaviour means and is trying to communicate. Establishing a therapeutic alliance will enable the person to reflect on their inner world, have helpful insights and perhaps then change the problematic behaviour. As social care is mostly conducted in groups and with groups, the course promotes the use of a therapeutic community approach where this is appropriate.

Year 1
Advanced Therapeutic Child and Social Care 1: Therapeutic Work in Context.
Philosophy and Ethics of Therapeutic Child and Social Care
Observing and Understanding Organisational Life (incl. Visit of Observation)
Experiential Group 1: Leading Self

Year 2
Advanced Therapeutic Child and Social Care 2: Therapeutic Communication
Leadership and Management in Therapeutic Child and Social Care
Experiential Group 2: Leading Self and Others
Research Methods and Dissertation
Work Placements

Visit of Observation
Students have the unique opportunity to be a participant observer for 5 days at a work setting of their choice. This allows learners to see and experience how the work setting of their choice works and operates. Students’ choice may be informed by their professional interest or the focus of their dissertation. The Visit is undertaken during the summer break between Year 1 and Year 2.

Residential Community Experience
During the course, learners will twice have an opportunity, away from the campus, to experience living together as a community. This experience deepens the learning process and has been a huge contribution to the success of the students on the course.

Entry requirements

Hold a primary degree (Honours Bachelor) in Applied Social Studies or equivalent*

Be registered or eligible to register as a professional Social Care Worker**

Be in employment in a human services agency as a manager, team leader or front-line practitioner

Satisfactory pass at interview.
*Applicants who do not satisfy the academic criteria may be accepted onto the course if the Course Selection Board is satisfied that they have the ability to complete the course and are well placed to make good use of it.

**Applications are welcome from those professionally qualified in a discipline other than social care who have at least two years’ professional practice experience. Please note, this programme is not a professional award for registration as a Social Care Worker.

Application dates

How to Apply
The next intake for this programme is in September 2024. Applications will open in February 2024. Applications can be submitted via our Postgraduate Application Form.


2 years (on-campus).

The course is taught over two years, one day a week, and has a maximum class group size of 16 students.

Enrolment dates

Start: Sept 2024

Post Course Info

Graduates of the programme move to take on positions of practice responsibility within the organisations in which they work and beyond. This Masters level course prepares graduates for leading a process of change towards a more therapeutic and progressive quality of practice in Social Care and other person-centred professions. Graduates take up leadership roles within their own work places, contribute to the development of their profession, engage in consultancy work to support professional teams.

At least six of our graduates currently lecture in other higher third level institutes. Four of our graduates have also taught on this course.

More details
  • Qualification letters


  • Qualifications

    Degree - Masters (Level 9 NFQ)

  • Attendance type

    Part time,Daytime

  • Apply to

    Course provider