SSDL Disability Practitioner Training (14 DAY)

Download the SSDL Brochure 2017.

Applications now closed.


The SSDL Disability Practitioner Training (14 Day) course has been accredited by the Athlone Institute of Technology (AIT). Upon satisfactory completion of the course and the assignments, students will be awarded a Certificate in Supported Self-Directed Living (40 ECTS). This is an accredited level 6 Special Purpose Award.

Places are limited to a total of 30 in 2017. Places will be offered based on suitability of applicants to criteria outlined in the application. Successful applicants will be offered places in late December 2016 and training starts in February 2017.

About the SSDL Disability Practitioner Training (14-Day)

The SSDL programme is designed to enhance the competencies of human service practitioners. The course focuses on implementation of coherent, best-practice strategies that address the devaluation of marginalized people. The programme is rooted in the theory of ‘Social Role Valorization’ and focuses on practical application.  

The SSDL curriculum is largely derived from Genio’s ‘Endeavour for Excellence’ and ‘Enabling Excellence’ training programmes that were originally developed and delivered between 2011 and 2014 in collaboration with American Social Role Valorisation specialist, Hope Leet Dittmeier. The curriculum continues to develop and improve as new elements are included to reflect important insights from the different approaches, as well as emerging learning from SSDL-related projects in Ireland. 

This training will focus on training practitioners in a well-recognised theory of practice and a validated approach to engaging in person-centred discovery, planning and implementation. The training will be delivered in small class settings with a high degree of support and mentoring for staff as they implement supported self-directed living practices with individuals. 

This training will take place over 8 months and will involve 14 days of training divided between five modules, with an onsite visit to the organisations of the participants by the trainers where possible. It is expected that each participant will be working with an individual on implementing SSDL approaches over the course of this training. 

Class sizes will be limited to approximately 15 participants (except for Modules 1 and 5 which will be larger groupings).

Who will deliver this training?

These modules will be delivered using a combination of Irish and international experts in the field, including Hope Leet Dittmeier and Charlotte Knight, who have extensive practical experience and who use tested methodologies and robust theories of practice.

Course Structure

The course is delivered in 14 days over a period of 40 weeks. This amounts to approximately 100 contact hours comprised of traditional classroom teaching, personal reflection, and small group work activities. Additionally, participants are expected to engage in practical work consisting of a minimum of six hours a week for the duration of the course, amounting to approximately 180 hours. Practical work includes a combination of additional reading, application of the learning in conjunction with a ‘learning partner’, and preparation of assignments to be presented during subsequent modules.

Course Content

Upon completion of the course, participants will have become discerning and experienced practitioners who are competent in:

  1. Understanding and applying social role valorization (Wolfensberger, W.) as a coherent theory of practice.
  2. Partnering relationships with people being supported in strategic and productive ways. 
  3. Embracing a facilitative approach to supporting self-direction.
  4. Utilizing discovery as a tool to reveal the most relevant information necessary for positive and ambitious planning.
  5. Assisting a person to determine and articulate their vision for a desirable lifestyle.
  6. Supporting families and building teams of informal supporters.
  7. Organising individualized decision-making events using clear planning considerations.
  8. Designing and implementing high quality direct supports.
  9. Implementing effective relationship and community-building approaches.
  10. Informing the organisation of non-programmatic issues relevant to the provision of high quality support.

Who is this training suitable for?

The course has been designed as a practicum over 5 taught modules, creating an opportunity for participants to explore the practical application of a ‘theory of practice’ by working in real time, over a period of several months, with a real person. It is therefore primarily intended for practitioners (frontline workers) in disability services, who have a clear mandate to support a process of transformational change with at least one individual for the duration of the course and beyond, and for those working in leadership and change agency roles within organisations. 

Each participant is required to work with an identified ‘learning partner’ (an individual being supported by a service) who has consented to engage in the process (where possible), and to share their work in progress with the group over the 5 modules through a series of assignments (written work and visual presentations). Participants report on their progress and receive feedback via reflection and critique.  

This training is suitable for committed staff who are ready for the academic rigour of the course content, and who will be given the dedicated time to work with at least one individual. For organisations that are seeking to introduce SSDL into their practice, we strongly recommend that a group of staff from the same organisation be trained simultaneously. We have found that this level of participation significantly improves the impact of SSDL training. Similarly, for organisations that have previously had staff trained in SSDL programmes, and where these practices have taken root, we would still recommend group participation but this is not a requirement. 

We recommend that you have a discussion with Genio if you would like any guidance on this. Please contact Charlotte Knight, 087 6145512 | [email protected].

Programme Schedules


€1800 - On receiving an offer you will be required to pay the full fees in advance. Payment can be made online by credit card, cheque or bank transfer after your place is confirmed. Full fees must be paid by Friday 13th January. Instalment payment plans are available to those who are self-funding. Further payment details will be provided if you are offered a place.


The Emmaus Centre, Ennis Lane, Lissenhall, Swords, Co Dublin.