Acupuncture Training 2020 at the ICTCM – Coronavirus update

Update 2021

In spite of the current pandemic of Coronavirus, the Irish College of Traditional Chinese Medicine are happy to report that we are continuing to provide teaching to the students on our Acupuncture and TCM programmes.


Of course, Covid-19 has meant that we have to do some things differently.

For more than 35 years  we have run our successful  3 year part time Professional Acupuncture  TCM Training face-to-face. So, it has been an interesting challenge to enable our current students to continue uninterrupted with their studies during these difficult times of social distancing. We have introduced much more online and video conferencing learning. And our staff and students have risen to the challenge.

Since the 2020 intake began in early October, the Teaching weekends have all been via Zoom. Regarding later in 2021, much will obviously depend on whether the spread of the Coronavirus is under control and whether it is allowed to meet in groups. When it is safe, the students will meet face-to-face with staff for practical training in the College in Dublin.

Given the success of our current teaching methods, once the pandemic is over, we will introduce more Distanced Learning sessions into our normal teaching schedule. This will mean that students, who normally come into the college for 2 full days every 4 weeks (approximately), will not have to come to Dublin in person so often.

Information about this will be updated at interview for applicants for October 2021.

For an Online Prospectus pack please click here.

Happy New Year of the Rat


Happy New Year of the Rat

New Year’s greetings from the Irish College of Traditional Chinese Medicine. The Chinese year starts today, on 25 January 2020, and ends on 11 February 2021, when the Year of the Ox begins.

Each Chinese New Year is characterised by one of 12 animals that appear in the Chinese zodiac – this year, is the Year of the Rat. It is the first animal in the zodiac cycle and is, thus seen to be a great time for new beginnings. New ventures should flourish.

So, if you are thinking about changing career and moving into Chinese Medicine as a trainee practitioner why not consider making the change this year and joining the 3 year part time Professional Acupuncture TCM training programme which begins in October each year?

If you would like us to send you a paper-based prospectus pack please send us your postal address, via our Contact page. Alternatively you can find the recently updated pack online. If you are already a practitioner perhaps this is a good year to set up a new clinic in another town. Or, you might want to consider extending your range of therapeutic options with a post-graduate course.

Whatever your plans for the year ahead we wish all our students, staff, colleagues, practitioners and friends every success and hope you will be blessed with good health and happiness.

Tom Shanahan and Mary Plunkett

On behalf of the ICTCM

New Acupuncture students in Dublin, Ireland

Some of the 2018-2019 students outside the College in Dublin 3

The Irish College of Traditional Chinese Medicine is very happy to welcome our new Acupuncture TCM students to study with us in our College and Acupuncture Clinic in Dublin 3.

We wish all our students a successful and stimulating year.

The 2019 Academic Year commenced in October and the next intake of students will be in October 2020.

Acupuncture – What does an Acupuncturist do?

It shows a fine acupuncture needle in an acupuncture point

A fine needle in an Acupuncture Point

If you are thinking of changing career and are considering training to become an Acupuncturist, it is import to realise that many different people call themselves Acupuncturists. So, first you need to decide what type of Acupuncturist you want to be, and then you need to find a suitable College that will provide the training you need.

What does an Acupuncturist do?

By definition, Acupuncture involves the piercing of the skin by a needle. So, the simplest answer to the question “What does an Acupuncturist do?” is, “they insert needles into a person (or animal)”.

Why is this done?

As the word “Acupuncturist” comes from the field of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) the objective is to treat a medical condition.Thus, a Chinese Medical Doctor, whose main treatment specialism involves the use of fine needles to treat a patient, is called an Acupuncturist and the title would only be used to refer to a fully qualified Chinese Medical practitioner of Acupuncture. The doctor would make a diagnosis of the patient using all the specialist methods of TCM and would then select the appropriate Acupuncture points to needle in order to treat the patient.

In China, if the patient is a human being they will be treated in a Chinese Medical Hospital or Clinic. Animals would be treated by Veterinary Acupuncturists.

So are all Acupuncturists in Ireland, the UK, and other parts of Europe, fully trained practitioners of Traditional Chinese Medicine?

An Acupuncturist using Pulse diagnosis in the TCM clinic

Pulse Diagnosis in the ICTCM Clinic

No. Those who have trained at an established and reputable college, such as the Irish College of TCM (ICTCM), will have studied intensively for 3 years to learn all the necessary theoretical knowledge and practical skills of Chinese Medicine that are required to safely and effectively treat patients with real medical conditions. They are fully trained practitioners of TCM and may refer to themselves as Chinese Medical Acupuncturists or Practitioners of Acupuncture TCM.

Is this the same as a Western Medical Acupuncturist?

No. Some Western Medicine (WM) professionals, have trained at the Irish College of TCM and are Chinese Medical Acupuncturists as well as being WM Doctors or nurses, but most Western Medical Doctors, nurses and Physiotherapists who say they do Acupuncture have only completed a short introductory course in Chinese Medicine and use the insertion of needles as an adjunct to their Western Medicine treatment. They make a diagnosis according the principles and theories of Western Medicine.

Are Acupuncturists in Alternative medicine or Complementary Medicine clinics all trained in TCM?

Not all of them. Some have studied at the ICTCM and are fully trained and will be members of a Professional Body such as the Professional Register of TCM. However, some therapists in such clinics have learned how to insert needles but have not learned how to make a TCM, or indeed any, medical diagnosis.

What about Cosmetic Acupuncture?

Most people offering cosmetic acupuncture are not fully trained and insured in TCM, and do not treat medical conditions.

Acupuncture Treatment in the Teaching Clinic of the Irish College of TCM

Acupuncture Treatment in the Teaching Clinic of the Irish College of TCM

Where can I train to become a Chinese Medical Acupuncturist able to use Traditional Chinese Medicine to make a diagnosis, determine a treatment plan and provide the correct Acupuncture treatment?

The Acupuncture Department, at the Irish College of TCM which was set up in 1983, has been training people to become wholly safe, competent, confident, professional practitioners of Acupuncture TCM since that early date.

Our Professional Acupuncture Training programme begins in October each year and anyone wishing to apply for this year’s intake should contact us straight away as we have almost finished recruitment for this coming academic year.

Health and the Seasons – Late Summer

Harvest in Late Summer

Harvest in Late Summer

When does Autumn begin? Is it still summer at the moment, or is there a touch of autumn in the air? Are we at the cusp of a change of season?

According to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), the change of seasons is a period when aspects of our health can change and can either get better or worse. TCM theory would say that we are now entering the “Late Summer” season.  It is sometimes called “Indian Summer” in English.

In nature it is a time of Harvest, when we gather in the fruits of our labour. It is said that that “we reap what we sow”. This means that if we have sown bad seeds these will not produce a healthy and bountiful crop. Or, if we have not tended to the needs of our seedlings when they are growing, or the weather has been inclement, the yield will be poor.


So too in our everyday lives. If we have not “sown good seeds” or paid due care and attention to our new projects, this can affect our health and wellbeing. If we have had a stressful Spring, setting up new ventures, striving to get ahead and be successful without taking necessary care of ourselves and others around us, our plans may not come to fruition. We may then feel worse in the Late Summer.

In terms of our own health, this season is traditionally associated, with the physiological system, referred to in Chinese, as Pi (and Wei). The notion of Pi in TCM covers a wide variety of human functions, ranging over a wide expanse of human activities. Among other things Pi is responsible for the body’s ability to adequately transform food and drink into Qi – the vital energy necessary for life. It is also responsible for separating out and getting rid of the waste products in daily living. Its widest function is that of transporting the Qi throughout the entire person.  Typically, a variety of “digestive” disorders may have their roots in Pi dysfunction and can get worse (or better) in Late Summer.

On a more mental level, Pi is responsible for transforming and transporting ideas. Failure in respect of this function can manifest as overthinking and repetitive or even obsessive thinking. Ideas can stick in the mind and clarity of mind will suffer. The person will not be able to separate good ideas or thoughts from bad ones.

Humidity or Dampness also “Distresses” Pi, so if the weather in Late Summer is Damp, clarity of Mind and efficiency of “Digestion” on all levels can be impaired. Other Damp-related symptoms like certain types of pain in the joints can also become worse during this season.

An Acupuncturist who is fully trained in the field of TCM, would be able to offer specifically tailored treatment and Chinese Medical advice to a patient who was susceptible to illnesses arising from, or getting worse, during the Late Summer.

Are you the sort of person who would be interested in learning, according to millennia of ancient venerable traditions, how different seasons influence and deeply affect yourself, other people and the entire environment around you? In more immediately practical terms, relating here to a self-employed profession, are you the sort of individual who would be interested in becoming a TCM practitioner, a fully trained, competent and confident  health-care professional  who would be able to offer such advice and treatment and thereby improve the health and wellbeing of clients?

If so, it is still not too late to apply for a place on our long-established, tried and tested, Professional Acupuncture Training programme, the Licentiate in TCM. The three year part-time course, run by the Irish College of TCM, begins in October each year and is held in our College in Dublin 3.

Graduation of new Acupuncturists

To announce that four new Acupuncturists have graduated as TCM practitioners and have set up clinics in various parts of Ireland and the UK.

Congratulations to the four new Acupuncturists who are starting a career as practitioners of Traditional Chinese Medicine and Acupuncture. They have clinics in Donegal, Dublin, Wexford, Tipperary, and York (UK).

They successfully graduated from the Irish College of Traditional Chinese Medicine’s Professional Acupuncture Training Course – the Licentiate in TCM.

A Ceremony was held on 30th June where graduation certificates were presented. Officials, staff, family and friends gathered to celebrate this achievement and to wish the graduates success in their change of career.

Graduates and staff celebrating at the graduation
Graduates and staff celebrating at the graduation

Who can study Acupuncture and TCM with us?

The photo shows a group of students of Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine in the main classroom of the Irish College of TCM, in Dublin.
Students of Acupuncture and TCM

Questions that Acupuncture applicants often ask

We are now accepting applications for the 2019 Academic year which starts in October. So, I thought it would be useful to answer some of the questions that prospective applicants often ask.

The main thing people want to know is “Will I be a suitable Acupuncture student“?

If you have a keen interest in medicine and health and would like to work in a Caring profession, then that is a good start. We will then want to know why you are particularly interested in Traditional Chinese Medicine and Acupuncture?

The answers might be:

  • I have a friend who is a TCM practitioner and Acupuncturist and they got me interested.
  • I have been unwell and Acupuncture treatment really helped me so I know it works.
  • I’ve read about Chinese Medicine and I like its Holistic approach.
  • I work as a Health professional and would like to extend my range of Clinical options and heard good reports about Acupuncture and other TCM treatments.

“Do you accept students from other countries?”

We accept students from Ireland the UK and all parts of the EU. We also accept people from other countries provided the student will not require a Student Visa to study on our course.

Because all of our courses are part time and do NOT qualify for a student visa we are unable to accept any applicants from overseas countries where a Visa is required. If an applicant from such a country already has the right of abode and right to work or study in the EU we can accept their application.

Another common question is “Am I too old?” or “Am I too young to study with you?

The answer to that is that we accept suitable people of any age, provided they are at least 21 years old when the course begins. Our courses are designed for adults who are wishing to either change profession or, if they already work in Acupuncture and TCM to gain a post-graduate qualification.

“What qualifications do I need to be a suitable Acupuncture Student?

  • You do not need to have prior qualifications in either TCM or Western Medicine.
  • You must be able to show us that you have the capacity (not just the desire) to undertake an intensive course of part-time study over a three year period.
  • Prior study on intensive or demanding courses will be an advantage, because you will be prepared and know a little of what to expect, but this is not a requirement.

“What qualities do I need?”

You need to be intelligent, not afraid of hard work and willing to work in a small group with other adults who have the same hopes and expectations as yourself. The course sets high standards and we accept students who are prepared to put in the necessary commitment to be successful in the academic, practical and interpersonal aspects of the course. It helps to be mature and well motivated and being kind and helpful to others are qualities that will help you to be a better practitioner.

You will be training to be a professional practitioner of Acupuncture TCM so many different skills need to be developed.

You can find out more about our Students and Graduates and the specific entry requirements via these links.

Finally, don’t forget that your application is just the first step. We interview all suitable applicants (or people who seem to be suitable) and during the interview and tour of the college and teaching clinic you will have a chance to discuss your suitability with a member of the teaching team.

We look forward to hearing from you.