Newcomers Guide to Cognitive Analytic Therapy (CAT)

Newcomers Guide to Cognitive Analytic Therapy (CAT)

CAT developed as a form of individual therapy in the 1980s at Guy’s and St Thomas Hospitals in London. It was a pragmatic and collaborative response to the psychological needs of people in distress with personality or mental health problems. The founder of the model, Dr Anthony Ryle, offered a common language for joining up the understanding derived from psychoanalytic ideas of how we develop personality and cope with trauma to cognitive and behavioural ideas about how we get fixed into patterns of thinking, feeling and behaving. The model was popular with clinicians working with complex needs who wanted to understand how the helper and the systems of help, such as community or inpatient teams, got pushed and pulled into unhelpful responses. In particular, CAT shows how early relationships impact on beliefs and behaviour. This then informs an understanding of why behaviours in helping relationships are similar to behaviours in other relationships in the client’s past and present. CAT uses maps or diagrams drawn together by the clients and therapists to describe these patterns of relating. It also uses shared writing. An example of this is a letter written by the therapist to the client early in the therapy which describes the therapist’s understanding of the client’s past and how it has led to their current patterns of relating. Both the diagram and the letter can then be used to understand the client’s current relationships both outside the therapy room and with the therapist. The CAT approach has been popular with multi-professional groups and psychiatrists, psychologists, nurses and social workers have all been attracted to the training which is now carried out in eight centres around the country.

Training in CAT is currently only available to people already with a core mental health profession. However introductory courses and workshops and training in applying CAT’s methods of making personal and problem solving maps by looking at their relational origins are increasingly available. CAT is attracting interest internationally and has a following in eight other countries. The International Association for Cognitive Analytic Therapy (ICATA) is supporting this development. In the UK where CAT developed first the Association for Cognitive Analytic Therapy (ACAT) has 900 members and supports and accredits a variety of training programmes. CAT has proven to be a good integrative and common approach for work between professional groups and is being used to train in-patient and community based teams as well as individuals.

ICATA Official Documents

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Constitution

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Training Guidelines

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Ethical Guidelines

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