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Faculty of Science and Health

Doctorate in Psychotherapy

Doctor of Psychotherapy

  • PAC CodeDCD13
  • Course type Postgraduate
  • Qualification PhD
  • Delivery Modes Part-time
  • Duration 4 Years

The Doctorate in Psychotherapy is a level 10 NFQ (240 credit) programme delivered part-time over four years.

This programme will build upon professionals' current competencies and skills. It will stimulate an inquiry-based attitude to practice that increases their capacity to respond to clients at an implicit emotional and relational level. The development of an inquiry based attitude will also inform the implementation of a research project that advances the boundaries of knowledge and positions you as an authority in their chosen area of interest.

Students will exit with the knowledge and ability to work as senior psychotherapists and researchers.

Intake Process

There are a number of stages to the selection process for students for the Doctorate in Psychotherapy, as follows:

Stage 1: Paper Application

Students apply for the programme on the Postgraduate Application System (PAC) providing evidence of prior academic achievements and practical experience in addition to a personal statement outlining their interest in undertaking doctorate level training. Applications are reviewed by the Programme Admissions Panel and those meeting the criteria are invited for interview, while the rPL Board considers issues of equivalence and determines the next stage of selection. At this initial stage the following is considered:

  • academic award level and relevance
  • professional experience in clinical practice and supervision
  • personal development work
  • evidence that they are able to conduct research at doctorate level

Stage 2: RPL Board Approval

In the event that an application requires consideration in terms of equivalence it is brought before the RPL Review Board for special consideration. This Board comprises members of the Programme Admissions Panel and, to ensure impartiality and consistancy, is chaired by an independent member of the School Teaching and Learning Board. Applicants applying through the RPL route are invited to complete a portfolio of evidence of work that is being presented for consideration at equivalence level.

Stage 3: Interview

Interviews are conducted by the Programme Admissions Panel with all applicants meeting the selection criteria or equivalent. The interview assesses applicant suitability using the following guidelines:

  • review of all documentation to ensure fit with selection criteria - academic, practice related
  • discussion about research experience and exploration of area of interest to pursue at doctorate level
  • psychological and emotional robustness and readiness for this advanced level of training
  • a personal style what is compatible with an experiential group learning environment e.g. open and dialogic communication style, maturity, self-awareness, groundedness, motivation, compassion and human presence skills, good conflict management skills and a capacity for reflexive and ethical practice.

Stage 4: Offer

A place on the doctorate is offered to each student who is successful at interview level. This is done through the PAC system giving applicants time to consider the offer before accepting same. Applicants may defer their place for one rotation of the programme only (2 years) and following this time period must reapply in full.


The objectives of the course are to enable candidates to acquire:

  • The capacity to integrate an advanced understanding of the best available and emerging research evidence and subjective personal inquiry to develop theory and inform innovative practice developments, including the use of technology
  • A unique and in depth portfolio of transferable competencies to advance the field of psychotherapy practice, supervision, education, training and research
  • Skills to complete an original and innovative research study that makes a significant contribution to the field of psychotherapy, advances the boundaries of knowledge and locates candidates as an authority in their chosen area-field of interest
  • The capacity to make, implement or challenge practice decisions based on a philosophical appreciation of psychotherapy, outcome research and subjective clinical experience in psychotherapy
  • The ability to combine personal awareness, reflexivity and informed intuition with professional adeptness to respond effectively to the changing needs of a diverse spectrum of client groups in a range of political and cultural contexts
  • An inquiry-based attitude and the capacity for critical awareness to coexist alongside non-critical awareness and open analytical thinking to practice that is founded on an integrative, flexible and robust theoretical framework
  • The ability to exercise autonomy in practice initiatives in complex professional contexts, taking account of moral, ethical and legal issues
  • Proficiency in discussing and disseminating the contributions of emerging theoretical principles and practice developments within the social, cultural and political academic, practitioner and educational communities

View the current course structure →


The Doctorate in Psychotherapy enables students to become leaders in the challenges inherent in valid clinical assessment, treatment delivery and outcome measurement.

The clinical element of the programme provides evidence of successful completion of course requirements and will support any claims you make in relation to being an expert practitioner.

You will have the opportunity to observe and learn from each other's practice in a purpose-designed communications suite, available at the School of Nursing and Human Sciences, with extensive audiovisual recording and editing facilities.

The programme provides the opportunity for extensive reflective self-awareness, self-appraisal and an astute acknowledgment of the 'self' and 'other' within the context of what it means to be a psychotherapy practitioner in the delivery of safe and ethical treatment.

The opportunity to develop: advanced sensitivity to socio-political and economic interests and influence at a micro and macro level; in-depth and sensitive awareness of multicultural diversity, ethnic minority, socially disadvantaged and vulnerable groups in society; and in-depth awareness and understanding of negative stereotyping and of specific social-client groups.


As senior practitioners, you will have the capacity to make, implement or challenge practice decisions based on outcome research and subjective clinical experience. You will have a unique and in-depth portfolio of transferable competencies to advance the field of psychotherapy practice, education, training and research and the expertise, breadth and depth of specialist skills to initiate, self-direct and evaluate practice based research project. This skills set will make candidates desirable in advanced practice, research and teaching settings.


General Entry Requirements

The Doctorate in Psychotherapy is designed to provide advanced post-graduate psychotherapy training to senior psychotherapy practitioners who are interested in developing their psychotherapy practice, supervision and research skills and knowledge.

Applicants must:

  • hold a primary degree or equivalent in a relevant area, such as humanities, health or education;
  • hold a Masters in Psychotherapy or equivalent (which incorporates a minimum of 300 hours clinical practice, 50 hours clinical supervision and 80 hours personal therapy);
  • have a minimum of 2 years post-training practice experience working with a broad range of psychological problems;
  • be personally suitable to undertake advanced training within the context of a taught programme (e.g. motivated, reflective)
  • demonstrate evidence that they can undertake a research project at doctoral level
  • successfully undertake a selection interview

Applicants who are applying on the basis of equivalence may be considered for admission to the course at the recommendation of the Programme Admissions Panel pending approval by the RPL Board (recognition of prior learning). Please note that equivalence will only be considered on one academic requirement therefore applicants must have successfully undertaken academic study at level 7 or above.

How to Apply and Closing Dates

Make an Application

All Applicants Must Submit

  • Academic transcripts for each and every year of study with English translation if applicable
  • Personal statment

Application Submission Date

Entry to the Doctorate in Psychotherapy is offered every second year and the next intake will be April 2018.

For information purposes only, applicants must provide evidence of prior academic achievements and practical experience in addition to a personal statement outlining their interest in undertaking doctorate level training.

EU Applicants: Apply online via the PAC website.  http://pac.ie/

Applicants must provide evidence of prior academic achievements and practical experience in addition to a personal statement outlining their interest in undertaking doctorate level training.

Non EU Applicants: Apply online via the PAC website. http://pac.ie/   Applicants who require a study visa for the purpose of gaining entry to Ireland are advised to apply as soon as possible.

When applying for this programme, please use course code DCD13.