What is CAT?

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As an individual therapy CAT is a model of brief, focused and structured therapy which was developed in the public health service in the UK and in Finland, Greece, Ireland, Australia and Spain. Now it is developing more widely in Italy, New Zealand, Hong Kong, India, Poland and Chile. CAT helps link the relational origins of hard to change patterns of cognition, behaviour and emotion to the powerful way they are reproduced through interaction with self and others in the present. It uses maps of different states of mind and the patterns that connect or isolate them within the wider sense of self. It uses compassionate writing to describe the dance of these patterns internally, socially and interpersonally and to give meaning to their origins in the formation of a sense of self and social identity. As well as being a method of therapy, CAT is proving useful as a consultative method and as a means of relational skills training for people in a wide range of medical and health roles. In this context CAT has become a dialogic way of understanding the interaction of psychology and psychotherapy, and the relationships involved in the provision of care and treatment in mental health and health services more widely.

Key points in summary about CAT

  • Cognitive analytic therapy combines a relational approach to the cognitive and behavioural therapies with current aspects of psychodynamic thinking about personality problems, childhood development and the power of the helping relationship.
  • CAT offers a well-developed, user-friendly and collaborative system for assessment, reformulation, engaging in a therapeutic relationship and managing and structuring the focus, progress and ending of therapy.
  • It is a therapy which has proven popular with a wide range of professionals responding to the complex needs of hard to help clients whether in mental health or general health.
  • In recent years it has been used to teach enhanced communications and relationship skills in the context of therapy, medical and caring roles for multi-professional teams.


ICATA Official Documents




Training Guidelines


Ethical Guidelines

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