Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy

The interpretation of dreams announced psychoanalysis to the world in 1900. In it Freud proposed that "the most complicated achievements of thought are possible without the assistance of consciousness." This psychoanalytic position revolutionised our understanding of mental life and the basis of any psychological intervention.

Psychoanalysis is a clinical practice which attends to the hidden, or unconscious, processes of the mind.Its epoch-marking insights shed invaluable light on the fragility of meaning in our lives and on the dynamics of mental health and its collapse in illness. Psychoanalysis stands at the origin of all the major developments in psychotherapy over the past 100 years. It is designed to introduce students in a thorough and rigorous way to clinical settings and practice and so is a solid basis for work in the field of mental health as well as being a foundation for training in the field of psychoanalytic psychotherapy.

Key Features of the MA in Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy
• Aims to direct learners in establishing and maintaining a psychoanalytically informed therapeutic position for the practice of psychoanalytic psychotherapy
• Aims to provide extensive placement experience – each 15 weeks, one-day-a week – in psychiatric, educational, and social care settings to allow learners to develop a psychotherapeutic position under supervision
• Designed paying due attention to requirements of psychoanalytic psychotherapy professional bodies and to discussions regarding statutory and European regulation in the field of psychotherapy
• Offers an opportunity to engage with professionals in fields related to psychoanalysis and psychotherapy through attendance at a weekly Psychiatric Case Conference with a multidisciplinary team in St Vincent’s University Hospital
• Classes are typically conducted on Thursday afternoon, followed by two small group tutorials on Thursday night
• The three pillars of the programme are personal psychoanalysis/psychoanalytic psychotherapy, academic study, and clinical experience with clinical supervision
• The psychoanalytic orientation is Freudian-Lacanian
• The programme is entirely staffed by practitioner-teachers

• A training based on a series of clinical placements one day a week in years 1 and 2 in mental health and education settings supervised by senior mental health professionals in each placement.
• Infant observation experience supervised by a highly qualified tutor in the field
• A final year of supervised appointment based clinical practice in settings recommended by the college. Students engage an individual supervisor for this work the fee for which is independent of the DBS programme fee.
• Weekly Psychiatric Case Conference at St. Vincent's Hospital followed by a clinical seminar
• Weekly psychoanalytic supervision tutorial
• An academic programme of lectures presented by clinicians

It's also required that students take up their own personal psychoanalysis. Cost associated with personal psychoanalysis is independent of the DBS programme fee.

Supervised placements are organised in years 1 and 2. These start in the second semester of year 1 and each placement comprises 15 weeks, one day a week, totalling 45 weeks over years 1 and 2. In year 3, students arrange their own appointment-based one-to-one sessions with clients within a placement setting. There is a requirement to complete a minimum of 50 client sessions during 3rd year.

Over the 14 years the MA has been running, placements have been arranged in the following settings:
• Department of Adult Psychiatry, Mater Misericordiae Hospital
• Department of Psychiatry, National Maternity Hospital, Holles Street
• The Royal Hospital, Donnybrook
• Department of Old Age Psychiatry, St. Ita’s Portrane & Beaumont Hospital
• Hospitaller Order of St. John of God, Lucena Clinic, Orwell Road
• Stewarts Hospital, Palmerstown
• Department of Psychiatry & Mental Health Research, St. Vincents University Hospital
• Navan Mental Health Service
• St Audoen’s National School, Dublin 8
• Mounttown Neighbourhood Youth Project, Dun Laoghaire
• Dolphin Homework Club, Dolphin's Barn
• Kilbarrack Coast Community Project
• Saol project, Dublin 1
• Shine Dublin 1
• St. Enda's National School, Dublin 2
• Tower Probation Project, Clondalkin

Subjects taught

The Master of Arts (MA) in Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy programme has the following content:

Taught/Academic Modules (one per semester) Classes start at 3.00pm on Thursdays.
- Formations of the Unconscious
- Infantile Sexuality and Infantile Neurosis
- The Clinic of the Unconscious
- Sexuality, Sexuation and the Division of the Sexes
- Neurosis in the Clinic of Psychoanalysis
- Psychoanalysis and Addiction
- Psychosis in the Clinic of Psychoanalysis
- The History of Psychoanalysis
- The Ethics of Psychoanalysis
- Transference in the Clinic of Psychoanalysis
- Research Seminar and Thesis (3rd Year, two semesters)

Clinical Modules
- Psychiatric case Conference and Seminar (in St Vincent’s University Hospital, Elm Park, Thursdays, 9.00 am – Years 2 & 3)
- Clinical Supervision (on DBS campus)
- Supervised Clinical Experience* (various locations)
- Infant Observation** (weekly class on DBS campus; observation - various)

- Semester 2, year 1
- Semesters 1 & 2, year 2.
- One-to-one client work, year 3

**24 months of actual observation – though the Infant Observation classes start at beginning of Semester 1

It is also required that students take up their own personal psychoanalysis. Cost associated with personal psychoanalysis is independent of the DBS programme fee.

Entry requirements

To be considered for admission to the MA in Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy, applicants must:
• Hold a minimum second-class honours (2.2) in an undergraduate degree in the psychological and medical sciences, humanities, arts or social sciences.

• Have the minimum requirement in English Language which is greater or equal to B2+ in the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages for admission where full-time study has been conducted in a language other than English or applicants whose first language is not English

• Complete a personal statement of approximately 400 words outlining why they wish to pursue this particular course

• Attend two one-to-one interviews with psychoanalytic practitioners, one of whom is typically the Programme Leader.

Applicants with an undergraduate degree in other areas may be considered on a case-by-case basis.

Garda Vetting
The National Vetting Bureau (Children and Vulnerable Persons) Acts 2012-2016 make it mandatory for people working unsupervised with children or vulnerable adults to be vetted by the Garda Siochana National Vetting Bureau. Under the Acts, anyone whose work or activity involves unsupervised access to children or vulnerable adults must be vetted. Workers include staff, volunteers and those on student placements working for a relevant organisation where they have access to children and/or vulnerable adults.

DBS offers a number of educational Programmes that require students to undertake placements with external agencies, which will bring them into contact with the public and in which they will assume positions of trust. It is for this reason that students on these type of programmes are required to undergo vetting prior to commencing placements (or visits).

New entrants on to these programmes will receive the relevant form and information in their orientation packs and will need to complete the process before their final registration on the course can be completed. At the time of application, students will be required to declare as to any previous convictions. Students can start on the course before their Garda clearance is completed but may be withdrawn if the vetting does not produce a satisfactory finding.

Where a vetting process identifies a previous conviction the case will be referred to an internal College Vetting Committee. This committee will consider all relevant information in relation to a disclosure from the vetting process and make a determination on the case on behalf of the College.

If a student has started on the course and is withdrawn because of a conviction that was not declared at the time of application, any fees paid will not be refunded.

DBS will charge a fee of €25 to each student for the administration and costs of obtaining Garda clearance. This fee is payable at the commencement of the programme and is non refundable.

Application dates

We are now accepting applications for programmes taking place in 2024.

Assessment Info

• Continuous assessment of clinical practice
• Continuous assessment and end of year report in infant observation
• Continuous assessment and examination relating to academic components
• Research thesis at the end of the programme


Part-time: 3 years.

Enrolment dates

Next intake: September 2024

Post Course Info

Career Opportunities
For students who wish to pursue training as a psychoanalytic psychotherapist but who have minimal clinical exposure to the phenomena of mental suffering, which include psychiatric illness, addiction, learning disability etc., this MA provides the ideal initial step of that training.

Currently a basic requirement for entry into work in the field of mental health is having experience of mental health settings during training. The MA in Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy is unique in Ireland in providing a very impressive amount of hours in challenging clinical settings. A graduate with this amount of experience should satisfy concerns of any potential employer regarding their ability to work in such settings. In addition the MA provides a basis for developing private practice in the years following graduation. For the duration of the MA students begin their own personal analysis, the cornerstone of any practice calling itself psychoanalytic.

Over the years the MA in Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy has provided a very stimulating basis not only for those graduates who wish to pursue work and practice in the field of psychoanalytic psychotherapy but also for graduates who have taken up social and community care work in artistic and creative settings.

More details
  • Qualification letters


  • Qualifications

    Degree - Masters (Level 9 NFQ)

  • Attendance type

    Part time

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    Course provider