Practice Placement at ICHAS


Practice Placement is an integral part of programmes at ICHAS and it provides the learner with an essential opportunity to develop and apply a range of skills within practice settings under supervision and synthesise their theoretical and practice-based learning for working with different client groups and individuals.

This work-based learning represents an opportunity for students to have real exposure to working creatively with clients and to develop transferable and adaptable therapeutic and planning skills, and the professional dispositions to work confidently and independently in different settings.

Learners will draw on the practical and theoretical knowledge acquired through college supportive tutorials and workshops, guided by a designated Clinical Supervisor.

A learning contract will be established with all placement settings, which will outline the roles of the various agents in this process.

We recently chatted with John Hickey & Dolores McMahon of the practice placement team about what it involves for the students and organisations and they also give some great tips for students who may be looking to do that in the next college year.

Who undertakes this?

Undergraduate Programmes

For undergraduate Programmes, learners are required to complete 200 hours of work-based learning across the two final years of the programme.

  • Learners complete 100 hours of placement in the Theory Practice Integration module at stage 3 within clinical supervision structures at a ratio of one hour of clinical supervision to every five hours of practice
  • Learners will complete 100 hours of clinically supervised placement in the Applied Practice module at stage 4 within clinical supervision structures at a ratio of one hour of clinical supervision to every eight hours practice.

Experiential learning in clinical settings is a special aspect of the programme in which each participant will be required to work in client-related situations under appropriate supervision structures for 200 hours. Applying graded exposure to practice is considered essential to effective professional practice.

These two modules provide a coherent understanding of the dilemmas and learning in practice-based settings and the opportunity to develop key skills in professional report writing.

Professional practice must be based on an opportunity to demonstrate professional competence in a range of settings. Practitioners must be able to identify and apply a range of skills that might fall within their scope of practice. These modules will provide the student with an opportunity to develop an understanding of the role and significance of the concepts and theories underpinning practice.

Postgraduate Programmes – Counselling and Psychotherapy

For MA in Counselling and Psychotherapy related programmes,  learners have to undertake a key module involving work-based learning (practicum) which is taken as a linear module requiring  200 hours of Client Work (15 ECTS) in counselling/psychotherapy settings which provides an opportunity for learners to apply the theoretical and practical aspects of the programme, under appropriate clinical supervisory arrangements.

Postgraduate Programmes – Childhood and Adolescent

For the MA in Childhood Studies & the MA in Adolescent Studies, learners are required to undertake a key module involving work-based learning (Practicum) which is taken as a linear module requiring 150 hours of practice placement (10 ECTS) which will be supporting with 15 hours of supervision arranged by the College, 10 of which would be mentoring or small group tutoring with 5 hours direct 1 to 1 placement supervision.

Placements are conducted  in relevant professional  settings which  provides an opportunity for learners to apply the theoretical and practical aspects of the programme, under appropriate supervisory arrangements

Postgraduate Programmes – Clinical Supervision

For the MA in Clinical Supervision in Professional Practice, learners have to undertake a key module involving work-based learning (Practicum) which is taken as a linear module requiring  100 hours of Client Work (10 ECTS) in relevant professional settings and provides an opportunity for learners to apply the theoretical and practical aspects of the programme, under appropriate clinical supervisory arrangements.

Postgraduate Programmes – Addiction Counselling

For the MA in Addiction Counselling, learners have to undertake a key module involving work-based learning (Practicum) which is taken as a linear module requiring  150 hours of Client Work (10 ECTS) in relevant professional settings and provides an opportunity for learners to apply the theoretical and practical aspects of the programme, under appropriate clinical supervisory arrangements.

Work-based learning has to be completed in a suitably pre-approved setting. The Colleges Placement Officer provides a list of organisations that work with the College in work-based learning environments and all hours have to be clinically supervised. Please refer to the individual programme pages for each programme requirement.


Examples of Work-Based Learning Organisations include:

  • MyMind – They provide accessible and affordable counselling and psychotherapy for everyone in Ireland. Their affordable and timely mental health services mean people have the best chance of getting back to a positive frame of mind sooner and with lasting results.
  • Aiseiri – Provide community and residential services to help young people, adults, and families overcome addiction and lead meaningful lives in recovery.  This is alongside education and information services with outreach to individuals, communities, schools, and businesses who may need to know more about the complexities of addiction.
  • Saoirse – Focus on delivering non-residential day treatment programs to those experiencing substance misuse issues, namely drugs, alcohol, and gambling.
  • Cuan Mhuire – Who are Ireland’s largest voluntary provider of Addiction Treatment Services and Residential Rehabilitation.

Online Information Evening Wednesday, May 29th

Partnership with Parents with Jennifer Hynes

Practice Placement, the Students Perspective

Noreen Fahy is a fourth-year trainee therapist who recently did her placement programme at Hope House in Mayo an addiction centre.

Tell us about your experience? 

They normally don’t take students and I really had to bend a few arms to get myself in there. But, there are other addiction centers that do take people and I strongly recommend that it’s a great place to start. First of all, when I went in there initially, on a four-week program that they do for the families of the people who are in-house at that time. So if you have a person who comes in, and they’re living there for four weeks there is a support meeting every week for their families.

That’s where I started off initially, I was allowed to sit in on those meetings. Now I found those fantastic because I was after studying the family systems theory and found that everything I had learned I was seeing it played out there in front of me. This includes all the blaming that the different roles that individuals can play in families of addicts. One area I would have improved on was that at the time I didn’t push myself forward enough, because I didn’t feel I had enough learning in addiction or anything like that to contribute. But in hindsight, if I was back there, again, I would definitely contribute more.

We had learned Person-Centered Therapy quite well at that stage. After that, they allowed me to sit in on the aftercare program, it’s a new program, for people who have been to the addiction center, then they give them two years of group therapy after they finish their four weeks.

What were some of the benefits of doing the practice placement?

So I was allowed to attend the sessions on a weekly basis with a group. That is what I recommend highly for people, if you can get into a situation like that, you’re learning so much, because first of all, you’re observing the facilitation. We had done group facilitation the previous semester, and we had heard about that, but when you see a really good facilitator, how they can kind of conduct group and how they can encourage people to participate it’s fascinating.

What I also found about that was that other theories that I had learned in college, I saw how they work in reality. For instance, I saw how transactional analysis, for instance, we learned that in college, how people interact with each other, when they’re under pressure and the defense’s that they use. I could see that from time to time how they went into their different ego states, and then how they had to revert back into adult states.

I saw CBT being used a lot there were the facilitator would give skills to them if they come in and they said, you know, all we have an upcoming event, it’s going to be difficult, like a wedding. The facilitator would encourage them to use CBT techniques. That was really, really interesting. Person Centered Therapy was used throughout as well. It was a great way of seeing what you have learned in college played out in front of you where you weren’t under pressure to contribute as such. But you could see it being acted out in front of you. You could see all sorts of interactions between people and how when people got to trust in other relationships around them and how that benefited them.

The other side of that for me and what it did for me, it actually opened up a lot of old wounds so what I would say to students, when you’re going out into the area of work placement, I would say this to the college as well, I think personal therapy should be compulsory. I know you get the choice of participating in personal therapy or not, I would strongly advise taking it on, it’s essential. I really needed the back up of my personal therapy during that time. So that’s one thing, I would definitely say, set up your personal therapy 100%, don’t consider an alternative. You really need to be in personal therapy while you’re doing this.

The other thing I would say is what I went into after I finished in the addiction center, I went to work in Galway here in Let’s Get Talking. It was straight off, you’re working with clients on a one to one basis. Now, I look back on it, and while I’m certainly delighted with the experience I don’t think so I wouldn’t have started as early on one to one.

First of all, we don’t study CBT until the second semester of college. So what I would be saying to people is either the college, take this on board and start doing CBT in the first semester or I would say to the students, not to start your one to one until the second semester, because then you are studying CBT you have, that is a very good modality to have under your belt, of course, we’d all have had persons centered therapy, It’s not enough when you’re dealing with clients. It brings you a long way. But you do need to have extra skills as well. And I think CBT is essential to have.

Also, work in a situation where you’re shadowing. If you can get into an addiction center, wonderful. You’re not just dealing with addiction there, you’re dealing with all sorts of problems. You know, people don’t end up being addicts without having a whole load of other problems in their backgrounds. There’s an awful lot of grief and loss in the addiction. The family systems theory also really came into play. So I know there are other areas that you went to include that you can get into groups like cancer centers and health centers. In my personal experience was in the addiction centers, you got it all.

What are your top tips for students?

  • It’s essential to have good supervision. During all of this, that’s one of the things that I would say so for him from a student’s perspective, beginning your personal therapy, but also have good supervision. Now, I had private supervision and I had in house group supervision, both of them are actually very, very good.
  • The other thing I would say to students that are doing this, do a reflective piece after each session, because it greatly helps at the end of the semester for your assignments.
  • Finally time management is essential during the third year when you’re trying to cope with doing all of this. You’re doing your placement, supervision, personal hours, and you’re also attending college and most of us are working as well, part-time on top of all of that

Practice Placement from the Organisations Perspective

Ceara Lyons, Placement Student, Director & Psychotherapist

Who did you do your placement with?

Mine was a little different, when I was in level 7 I was expecting my second child so I needed to get a placement where I could choose my own hours. I found it very difficult to find the right fit due to the flexibility needed so I set up my own practice as my placement. It was very difficult to get off the ground. In fact, I got my first client by listening to a radio show and phoning them and offering. My placement was self-employment.

What was your biggest learning from doing the placement? 

Well, there was a lot of learning after that experience. If I had to choose one it would be what it takes to become an independent counsellor. How hard it was to get placement, the exploitation of organisations of peer accredited and trainee counsellors and how you’re constantly chasing people with problems.

What was the biggest benefit for you?

There was a lot of benefit out of it. Because I wasn’t attached to anyone organisation I was able to experience a variance of issues. I could develop and work with a wide range of issues and people. It was a real learning curve. I could choose my own hours by doing it independently as well.

What advice would you have for people looking to do placement?

The practice I set out as a result of doing the work placement in Level 7 has grown into a really successful counselling centre here in Limerick (resolve counselling).

I take on a lot of students for placement from ICHAS. What I would advise students looking for placement is to try and have two. Some places that may take you on may be too small to give you full hours. By having two you’ll be developing different areas of skill.

For example reminiscence therapy is an area that’s very much overlooked. Some people though who are going into counselling may have little or no experience in the area, reminiscence therapy within nursing homes and care homes is very good as people aren’t coming to you with problems you’re helping them reminisce. I would go down this line if you have no experience.

Practical Real-World Experience

The practical placement is a crucial element of the programmes here at ICHAS and allows the students to relate classroom-based learning to practice in a real-world setting

To find out more about this and the other aspects of the programs thought here at ICHAS you can contact or call 061 216288.

The placement office is also open at our campus in Limerick Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays from 8.30am to 4.30pm.

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