ProfMasters Child Art Psychotherapy

Graduate Taught (level 9 nfq, credits 180)

With its roots in psychodynamic thinking, namely the acknowledgment of unconscious processes of mind and its influence on thoughts, emotions, and behaviours, the Vasarhelyi Method of Child Art Psychotherapy is founded on the principle that images and their creation have a distinct relationship with the unconscious. The CAP modality is an integrative approach to psychotherapy for children and adolescents, drawing from a number of traditions including Psychoanalytic / Object Relations, Humanistic & Integrative psychotherapy, and Jungian analytical psychology, amongst others. The creation of images in the presence of a trained Child Art Psychotherapist assists young people who may struggle to express their difficulties verbally to experience insight, develop understanding, create meaning, and promote positive change in their lives. The client’s feelings and experiences are explored through the simultaneous production of art work and verbal discussion with the Child Art Psychotherapist in a safe, contained therapeutic space. The images and art work created by young people in the psychotherapeutic context are seen as the primary mode of communication between the child and therapist. Working in this way has been shown to be very effective in providing a pathway for the child or adolescent to articulate their difficulty and distress.

Students of the programme develop an understanding of the fundamental theories and principles of psychotherapy, and are taught the Vasarhelyi Method of Child Art Psychotherapy. Individual and small group supervision are integral aspects of the course, as are personal psychotherapy, group process, and clinical placements. 



Art psychotherapy is internationally recognised as an effective support for children with mental health difficulties and is utilised across clinical, educational, and private settings. The Vasarhelyi Method of Child Art Psychotherapy [CAP] is a specific method of art psychotherapy for children and adolescents up to the age of 18, originally developed in the UK by Vera Vasarhelyi within the context of a multidisciplinary Child and Adolescent Mental Health team setting. CAP is a psychodynamic approach to art psychotherapy, where young people are supported in exploring and processing past experiences and current difficulties at both conscious and unconscious levels. This exploration is done through the medium of art materials  in a safe and contained therapeutic space. As described by Vera Vasarhelyi (1990), ‘The symbolic content of images can facilitate a unique insight into the dynamics of the unconscious, and allow the privilege of seeing hidden processes, which would otherwise remain largely inaccessible to exploration.’

For further information about this method and about the theoretical background of the Vasarhelyi method, please watch this short video clip and see the following papers:




Curricular information is subject to change

Part Time option suitable for:

Domestic(EEA) applicants: Yes
International (Non EEA) applicants currently residing outside of the EEA Region. No

This graduate level programme is open to candidates  who are working with children and young people in difficulty will find this programme invigorating. It will make an invaluable contribution to their career and to their commitment to work with vulnerable children and young people. It is also inspiring for those who are working with children with long-term physical illnesses. Graduates of the programme who hold prior qualifications in psychotherapy, social work, and other allied professions have found work in clinical mental health settings. Other graduates have found work in educational, voluntary, and statutory organisations, while others who have attained sufficient clinical experience in different settings work in private practice.

Am I eligible for this course?

-Eligibility criteria

  • A third level degree or equivalent is required.
  • Experience of working with children and adolescents within mental health or educational settings is an advantage.
  • Applicants are short-listed on the basis of their previous professional experience and the short-listed candidates are interviewed to assess their suitability.
  • Successful applicants will be required to consent to garda clearance being sought which is standard procedure for professionals engaged in direct work with young people.

  • Provides a rigorous clinical training in the Vasarhelyi Method of Child Art Psychotherapy
  • Provides a strong foundation in the areas of child mental health, psychological development, and fundamental psychotherapy theories and principles
  • Includes an 18-month clinical placement in a Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service clinic (CAMHS) in Years 1 and 2
  • Includes a further 18-month (appx.) placement in Tusla or other suitable organisations in Years 3 and 4
  • Provides clinical supervision of students’ Child Art Psychotherapy practice in both individual and small group settings throughout the duration of training
  • Developed for professionals who wish to specialise in using art materials and images in a psychotherapeutic context, helping children and adolescents to articulate  their thoughts and emotions through the use of art materials
  • Includes the production of Masters-level research with a focus on developing research methodology appropriate to the field
  • Includes requirement that students engage in their own personal psychotherapy - a vital cornerstone of formation in psychotherapy practice.

This four-year clinical training programme in psychotherapy is aimed at professionals who have experience working with children but would like to further their skills so that they can  use a non-verbal therapy when working with children with mental health disorders or distress. The programme provides an understanding of the theory of Child Art Psychotherapy, as developed in the work of Vera Vasarhelyi, and its application in clinical practice, as well as an introduction to the theories of child development, an introduction to mental health disorders, and an introduction to various modalities of psychotherapy.  Central to the programme is experiential learning through placement work, case presentations, individual and group supervision of clinical practice, experiential/reflective group work and individual psychotherapy. Students are placed in a child and adolescent mental health service where they provide child art psychotherapy under supervision. Lectures and seminars supplement this clinical experience. Psychiatrists, Psychologists, Social Workers, Psychotherapists, Counselors, Child Care Workers, Artists, Teachers and Nurses are among those who may find the course beneficial. Since it began the programme has been delivered in conjunction with the Mater Misericordiae University Hospital, a collaboration which facilitates access to valuable placement arrangements.

  • Demonstrate a comprehensive knowledge of the theory of the Vasarhelyi method of Child Art Psychotherapy and acquire clinical skills in the application of Child Art Psychotherapy within a multidisciplinary team setting, by working on assessment of cases, short therapy cases and long therapy cases.
  • Demonstrate clinical competence, the ability to critically communicate and reflect on his/her own therapeutic intervention and demonstrate the ability to work independently as a professional practitioner.
  • Demonstrate capacity to follow supervision and assess its recommendations in one’s own practice.
  • Apply insight gained from one’s own experience of psychotherapy and demonstrate (as a therapist) skills in observation, assessment, engaging in, maintaining and terminating the therapeutic process.
  • Demonstrate knowledge of the theories of pictorial thinking and the use of images to express and understand inner mental states in pictorial form.
  • Critically evaluate the contributions to pictorial thinking by 20th Century artists and art writers and examine the interaction between art and psychoanalysis.
  • Critically evaluate the variety of approaches practiced in child and adolescent mental health services and understand the role and contribution of child art psychotherapy in relation to these treatment approaches in Child and Mental Health Services.
  • Understand the importance of organisational issues and professional responsibilities such as boundaries, confidentiality, appropriate clinical note taking, report writing and sharing relevant information about the progress of the therapeutic process with the placement team and the child’s parents.
  • Critically evaluate theories of human development: the nature and aetiology of emotional, behavioural and developmental disorders in children and adolescents; the concept of neuroplasticity.
  • Understand, anticipate and reflect on ethical concerns for clinical practice and thesis research.
  • Reach a sufficient academic and clinical level to meet the criteria to allow for registration with ACAP and the Irish Council for Psychotherapy and the European Association of Psychotherapy.

ProfMasters Child Art Psychotherapy (X997) Part Time
EU          Year 1 - € 8320
nonEU    Year 1 - € 13900
EU          Year 2 - € 8320
nonEU    Year 2 - € 13900
nonEU    Year 3 - € 13500
EU          Year 4 - € 6240

***Fees are subject to change

The four-year Professional Masters training in CAP meets the requirements to apply for pre-accredited membership with the Association for Child Art Psychotherapy (ACAP). ACAP is independent of the Irish Council for Psychotherapy (ICP) but has adopted their widely subscribed to Standards for Training in Psychotherapy. CORU has launched a State Registration Board for the titles ‘psychotherapist’ and ‘counsellor’ under the terms of the health and Social Care Professionals Act [2005] administered by CORU. The Professional Masters in Child Art Psychotherapy is keeping up to date with developments, and will work to ensure that the qualification meets requirements for State Registration.

Training in Child Art Psychotherapy takes place over four consecutive years in UCD. The Association of Child Art Psychotherapists (ACAP) are the professional organisation and accrediting body for Child Art Psychotherapists in Ireland. Successful completion of the 4-year training ensures that the practitioner has satisfied requirements for Pre-Accredited membership with ACAP, allowing them to continue working toward clinical hours, personal psychotherapy, and supervision hours necessary for full Accredited membership with ACAP (

While the course facilitates students beginning the path toward Accreditation with ACAP, some graduates have successfully applied for membership with other professional bodies such as the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP;

If you are looking to upskill or if you are already working as an accredited psychotherapist,  you can exit with a MSc in Child art studies, which is a two year, part time masters. Visit our site for more information here:

UCD Psychotherapy also offers a Graduate Cert in CAP for Child Psychiatrists and Paediatricians.


  • International applicants should contact the academic programme director for a full list of entry requirements.

  • A list of FAQs for international applicants is available here. 

The following entry routes are available:

Prof Masters in Child Art Psychotherapy PT (X997)
4 Years
Part Time

* Courses will remain open until such time as all places have been filled, therefore early application is advised