The SHEP Certificate in Personal Development course …

offers you a chance to get to know yourself better in a supportive, friendly, non-judgemental environment.

It is part one of the SHEP Foundation Programme. Part 2 is the SHEP Certificate in Social Awareness and Community Empowerment.

Here, you can grow in awareness on a journey of self-discovery and learn about how you relate to yourself, and to others. It’s a place to explore your life, your choices, your responsibilities, a place where you can learn to accept yourself and others more, and increase your self-confidence and well-being.

The approach is

  • personal …

Learning to listen better to ourselves and each other, feeling, relating, building self-confidence, managing stress… all of these topics are explored in a personal way, so that people can become more aware of how they are living, of how they are with their feelings, including the feelings which individual people may find difficult to identify or accept, whether sadness, anger, gratitude, shame or love.

  • non-academic …

The course involves an approach quite unlike the kind of teaching and learning experienced in school.  Most of it is run in small groups of about 17 people, and each group has two group leaders or facilitators.  Participants are recognised as adults who have a lot of life experience, and are helped to learn from their own experience and from each other.  Skills are taught in an interactive, enjoyable way.

  • supportive …

The facilitators have extensive training and experience in creating a supportive atmosphere and in helping personal learning.

Please click Testimonial (2015) Daphne Bracken to read a testimonial form one of our participants.

Is This Course for Me?

People on the course come from all sorts of backgrounds.  This is a special strength of the course.  No special prior qualifications are needed, just a willingness to be personally involved and to interact with others.  In this approach, people meet as equals, learn from each other and begin to dissolve social and cultural barriers.

Does the Course Lead On to Further Training?

This course is one of two foundation courses in SHEP’s Core Training Programme. Graduates of the foundation courses can go on to do further courses with The Social and Health Education Project, including training courses in group facilitation. Many people who complete specialised practitioner training courses become active as community tutors, community facilitators or community advocates with SHEP.

Time Commitment

One evening a week (7.30 p.m. – 10.00 p.m.) from September to May and eight Saturdays or Sundays (10.00 a.m. – 5.00 p.m.)  We also run one SHEP Certificate in Personal Development Course in Cork during day-time hours. (10 a.m. to 12.30 p.m.)


Cork City,  Kerry and Limerick.

Course Certificate

A certificate will be awarded to those who complete the course satisfactorily. A high level of commitment and of attendance is expected from participants.  Except in the most exceptional circumstances attendance at a minimum of 80% of both the evening sessions and of the day-long workshops will be considered essential for satisfactory completion of the course.


The course fee is normally €790. Subject to funding, a concession/bursary of €300 may be available. As there is a very limited amount of money available in the SHEP Bursary Fund for reduced fee we cannot guarantee that all applicants will be successful. We will therefore prioritise applications from those in greatest need of assistance. All applications are treated confidentially. Fees may be paid in installments over the duration of the course.

To make our courses accessible to those in receipt of specific Social Welfare allowances  we offer a reduced fee on some SHEP courses offered in Cork, Kerry, Waterford and Mallow. Such reduced fees are funded by the SHEP Bursary Fund (to which people and companies have made donations) – or by state grants, when available. On some occasions, through state funding or other grants, we are able to offer a small number of people funded places. This is very exceptional. 

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Contact Details:

What Some Participants Have Said:

  • A learning experience that will equip you for life itself.”
  • A great gift to myself! I’m so glad I did the course.  I have learned invaluable life-skills and met amazing people.”
  • We learned the life-skills/skills for-life that we missed in childhood and in school.”
  • A wonderful opportunity to explore the past, present and future within the safety of a group.”
  • The course helped me to accept my past, and to let go of the things that were holding me back in life.”
  • You learn to deal with the voice in your head that says you’re no good.”
  • This course gave me a deeper awareness of my own feelings and the feelings of others. Well worth doing.”
  • I no longer live in yesterday.  SHEP has taught me to live in today and not worry about tomorrow. A wonderful healing experience.”
  • Before SHEP, I was struggling to live.  Now I am able to live with struggle!”
  • It taught me how to open a line of communication that has saved my marriage.”
  • Before SHEP, I thought the world was against me.  Now I know that’s untrue.””
  • My world is worth living in today.  Because of SHEP, I can handle any situation life throws at me.”
  • Excellent value for money.”
  • The facilitators were highly skilled and made the group safe and held the process throughout.”
  • If only everyone got the opportunity to do a course like this – what a better world we would live in!”

Next Courses

The 2020/21 courses are currently in progress. The courses have been adapted because of COVID19 and are fully online. We expect to commence new Foundation Part 1 (Personal Development) Courses commencing late September/early October 2021 – though the format of these courses is  uncertain for the moment. We hope to open for applications in the early Summer.