How a Masters at LYIT is helping Martin help others
The Master of Science/Postgraduate Diploma in Therapeutic Interventions for Alcohol & Other Drugs equips students with the ability to effectively address drugs and alcohol issues using proven recovery methods; blending a strong academic grounding in theoretical knowledge and practical everyday skills.
Current student Martin McFadden (53) has a background in counselling, and has also been instrumental in the establishment of the Friends of Bill W Club eight years ago in Donegal Town; a peer-led group that supports people when tackling their addictions. The network has since become an integral part of the recovery community.
Kilcar man Martin says that after working in the hospitality industry, he was inspired to take his education a step further when he began focusing on self-growth.
"I gave hospitality up about 15 years ago to concentrate and focus on dealing with my own alcohol addiction and thankfully have remained in recovery and sober ever since. I went back to college in NWRC Derry and trained for 4 years to become a fully Integrative Counsellor and a member of The British Association of Counsellors and Psychotherapists (BACP)," he said.
Martin is also a first class honours graduate of the University of Limerick's course in Drug and Alcohol Studies. Moira Mills of the Alcohol Forum was to the fore of bringing this course to the North West; and she is now lecturing on this new Masters, which is a follow-on from the UL diploma.
"I have been waiting for 9 years for this Masters to come to Donegal and I’m delighted that LYIT have taken it on. It is the first and only one of it’s kind in Ireland, which means our class are the trailblazers and will come away with a unique qualification in this country."
"It's new and it's unique, and it will bring great value in the future as the students bring their knowledge and understanding from LYIT to their respective communities."
Completing a Masters degree is no mean feat however, with time management being one of the biggest challenges for Martin.
Despite funds also being a barrier, LYIT have assisted Martin by providing a payment plan to cover the fees. As well as offering tax relief on fees paid, the Nursing and Midwifery Planning & Development Unit funds nursing and midwifery students through a devolved budget allocation to the Centres of Nursing & Midwifery Education in both Donegal and Sligo.
LYIT's Centres of Nursing & Midwifery Education coordinates the administration of this budget on behalf of the directors of nursing/midwifery. The application deadline for this funding is the end of May.
"Time and cost were, and remain the biggest challenges for me," he explained.
"At Masters level the commitment is huge, the blended learning approach provides for only a minimum of contact hours in college and demands personal responsibility and discipline where study and reading is concerned at home. Insofar as it would be described as part – time, it has taken up a lot of my time so far, but then that would have been an expectation of mine to begin with.
"I suppose we are just half way through this Masters, and although I struggled personally a wee bit at the start I am now really enjoying the experience.
"It can be quite daunting to begin with but the education being provided coupled with the knowledge that our group bring to the table, I believe is invaluable. I would certainly recommend this Masters to anyone with an interest in the area of Alcohol and Other Drugs.
"We are currently doing a practical skills based piece on Motivational Interviewing (MI) which is one of my favoured interventions and is proven to be a very successful approach. Continued personal development and the need to upskill and keep in touch is vital when working in the area of addiction and mental health."
When asked what advice he would give someone in relation to completing Postgraduate Education, he said:
"Embrace the challenge, most people, regardless of age are far more capable than they give themselves credit for. A Masters like this one needs people with a rich life experience to add to the learning experience for everyone."
Martin's fascinating research includes an in-depth analysis of the role peer-led supports play in the recovery process.
He will also be delivering a programme on Road Safety as part of ProSocial Ireland, a Letterkenny-based road safety initiative that encourages safer driving.
"We take referrals from various different judges and probation services. The programme is a cognitive behavioural approach and it has been running with great success since 2012," Martin explains.
Looking forward, Martin hopes to one-day lecture at LYIT.
"Really looking forward to completing this piece of work from a personal and professional perspective, I would have ambition to bring my learning and experience forward and to perhaps lecturing in the near future on the Masters”.