This intensive full-time course provides professional training in Counselling Psychology and is accredited by the Psychological Society of Ireland. Admission is on a yearly basis for approximately 12 to 14 students. The three main objectives of the course are (1) to allow students to obtain a level of postgraduate academic and research performance appropriate for the award of a doctoral qualification, (2) to progress this academic and research performance through the practice of Counselling Psychology, and (3) to acquire professional knowledge and skills. The course emphasizes the scientist-practitioner model of training and research-informed practice. The scientist-practitioner model is fostered through research classes and work on the research dissertation. Students are informed on a variety of research strategies (including e.g., experimental, quasi-experimental as well as descriptive and qualitative, phenomenological, hermeneutic, discourse analytic and grounded theory approaches) and learn to critically evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of different methodologies. Graduates of this course are qualified counselling psychologists, skilled to conduct mental health assessments and therapy with individuals, couples, families and groups across the lifespan.
Course Content and Structure
Taught classes, as well as counselling skills training, clinical supervision and reflective practice modules emphasise the application of empirically informed psychological knowledge in the work of the counselling psychologist. Students are facilitated to be aware of current research findings and to incorporate these into their clinical practice. The first year of the course offers academic and practical skills training in Counselling Psychology and related research. After the first few weeks of concentrated, full time coursework and personal development work, at least 2 full days per week are spent on clinical placement and 2-3 days in classes. The D.Couns.Psych. offers a wide range of course approved placement options in community, health, mental health, education and private practice settings in the greater Dublin area and throughout the country. At least 3 different placements are required during the 3 years of the course. The course is committed to on-going development of placement provision with the aim to provide further opportunities for HSE recognized placements, which are required for eligibility to apply for HSE psychology posts. These placements are, however, subject to availability and may require a 3 day per week commitment. The second year involves further training in counselling theories and practice, and students conduct a research dissertation related to Counselling Psychology, initiated during the summer before entering second year.
Personal development work, including individual therapy, is required throughout the 3 years. The third year includes small group supervision, reflective practice, and advanced counselling and psychotherapy theory and its application. However, the main focus will be on research. A research project resulting in the doctoral dissertation is carried throughout the three years. Courses are taught and supervision is provided by both core staff and other practitioners from varied theoretical orientations. Humanistic theory underlies the course. Psychodynamic and systemic perspectives are also emphasised, and training in cognitive behavioural approaches is provided. Practical placements continue through the summer and always follow the placement site's calendar, not that of the College. Guidelines for all aspects of the course are provided. All components of the course must be passed (i.e., practical, academic; research, and personal development), and subsequently validated by the Court of Examiners, who recommend students for the Doctorate in Counselling Psychology degree award.
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