November 2021 News

It’s been a while since we published a newsletter to update on new developments. At our recent Executive group meeting in November 2021 we thought we’d try updating more regularly on the blog. If you’re interested in following Catalyse activities this is another way to stay informed.

Practitioner Training

We made the decision to defer the next intake of the Practitioner Training until 2022. However this doesn’t seem to have made 2021 a less busy year. We’re pleased to have had a great deal of interest in the course already. The deadline for applications is May 6th next year and we look forward to checking our inbox then. Marisol Cavieres provided her final training day in October, and has now moved on from her tutor role after ten years of working with us. This makes way for trainer Jo Coggins to take on the tutor role for our new October 2022 intake, working alongside Kathyrn Pemberton who is the tutor for the 2021 cohort.

People

This year we’ve also had further additions in that David Harvey has joined us as an associate. Jenny Marshall has also joined and taken on a lead role for Personal Reformulations. Additionally, Cath Laverty has come on board in a Non-Executive Director role. Glenys Parry made the transition to a Non-Executive Director role after retiring from her Executive and Finance roles at the end of August. Her inimitable mix of wisdom, strategic precision, seemingly limitless practical skill, plus her warmth, irreverence and humour, have aided Catalyse since its inception. We miss her in our Executive meetings. However we’re pleased she’ll remain involved in a number of other ways. Alongside their practitioner training roles, Dawn Bennett and Sarah Littlejohn are now Co-Chairs of Catalyse and Dawn is Finance Director.

CPD

After a pandemic-related pause, four CPD events over the second half of this year have been well received. Our December event on Therapy for Parents and the Family Court Process is the most well-subscribed of the year, but there are still spaces if you wish to book on. David Harvey will be repeating his in-person CPD day on CAT as a Tool for Leadership on Thursday 5th May 2022. More details and booking options for this will be available soon.

CPD lead Jo Coggins is in touch with several colleagues about a number of other stimulating CPD days over the coming year. We’ve streamlined the CPD proposal process so that there is a bit less form-filling. Instead the process includes more conversation with Jo to begin developing a proposal. We hope this will help prospective presenters move from an idea to something firm. If you have chats with Jo on Zoom you may not spot her swapping a tentative pencil for a more confident pen. Have no doubt she will be working towards getting a definite date in the calendar. Then the website work gets properly underway and we can start to advertise your event.

Many of you completed our CPD survey earlier this year. In response, for 2022 we’re planning to offer a range of different events to suit different pockets and purposes. This includes a mix of face-to-face and online events, and we will share more details soon.

Catalyse Training Films

It’s just over a year since the Catalyse training films became available to stream. Vimeo recently informed us they have had over one thousand views. We’re about to launch a brief survey to ask more about the experience of those who have used them to date in training, or their own learning. Catalyse practitioner course trainees have direct access to them throughout training. Other CAT Practitioner training courses and Clinical Psychology courses have purchased subscriptions too, and some have also arranged for their trainees to have direct access at a small cost-per-head fee. Being able to watch the films at any time means that learners can use the materials more flexibly. In addition to viewing them direct during remote training days, they can also review them in their own time.

We didn’t really anticipate that individuals might want to subscribe to the films as a preparation for training in CAT. However we’ve discovered that there is some interest in this. As a result we’re reviewing the subscription costs to make it more possible for people to access them in this way. We’ll share details of new subscription arrangements shortly.

Training Films: Take Two

Not content with one series of materials, supporting initial skills development in cognitive analytic therapy, we are well underway with a second series. This is thanks to a generous donation from a charitable endowment fund by Greater Manchester Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust. Their contribution is enabling Kathryn Pemberton and a small group of CAT colleagues to plan and produce a further five short films, in conjunction with Brickoven Media and a number of local CAT colleagues.

The first series is suitable for introductory and year 1 practitioner training. Using different fictional scenarios, this second series of films will demonstrate a range of situations presenting more complex therapeutic challenges. From countertransference and strong expressed emotions, to rupture linked to values and world-views, the films aim to demonstrate more advanced CAT skills and competences. Again they will not be striving to show ‘perfect’ clinical practice. Instead, they explore the richness of such therapeutic encounters and possible responses by CAT therapists. As learning resources we hope they will facilitate exploration, discussion and debate around more advanced CAT skills and competences.

The recent weekend of improvisation and filming at GMMH premises in Manchester deserves a blog in its own right. Until that emerges, you can see a few visual highlights and glimpses of therapists who kindly gave up parts of their Sundays to help us, on the #CatalyseFilms hashtag on Twitter. If you’re not on Twitter you can scroll back to view the Twitter feed here on the website.

Staying involved with Catalyse

As ever, we welcome approaches from ACAT-accredited CAT therapists across the North of England who would like to become involved in the work of Catalyse in some way. There are plenty of possibilities. You can read more about how to go about this in Dawn and Glenys’ guidelines here. And of course you can always contact us through our administrator Frances Free.

Personal Reformulations in the Workplace

In this blog, Catalyse Associate Jenny Marshall shares some thoughts and experience on how personal reformulation can aid difficulties in the workplace.

I’ve worked hard in my career and this has always served me well until recently. I was struggling in a new more senior role and the harder I worked, the worse it seemed to feel. I just didn’t seem to be able to find a way out”.

For the first time, I really feel like I understand burnout; ever increasing demands felt impossible and I found I couldn’t switch off from increasing anxiety”.

The examples above may sound familiar. We may have seen aspects of them in colleagues, people we manage or people managing us. We may have felt these experiences within ourselves. In both examples, there is a narrative that the usual ways of coping or surviving in the workplace, are no longer working. There is a sense of stuckness, a drive to find an alternative way of being but not knowing or understanding how to do this. In such situations, this may be a good starting point for a personal reformulation (PR).

There may be many reasons why someone may not choose to have therapy in this situation. Instead they may want help in understanding why old patterns of working and coping now feel unhelpful and are keeping them stuck. These patterns, whether relating to others or to self, are a good here and now place to start in a PR.

We all experience change in our working lives and with change brings uncertainty and anxiety. How we respond to this depends on our individual relational patterns and ways of coping. Having an awareness of our own patterns can help us to navigate these changes.

The first example,

I’ve worked hard in my career and this has always served me well until recently. I was struggling in a new more senior role and the harder I worked, the worse it seemed to feel. I just didn’t seem to be able to find a way out”.

on further reflection, had been triggered by a change in role. This led to the usual strategy: work hard, always meet or exceed expectations no longer being possible. This can happen in more senior roles when staff are no longer only responsible for their own work but for the work of others. Exploration of this pattern in more detail also flagged up how not only was it not working; it was actually hindering performance. Working harder and taking more on was compromising the ability to deliver on expectations. It was only when this was acknowledged through mapping and the reflective process, that a shift became possible. It was easier to understand what needed to change. This pattern is represented below as a series of boxes and arrows.

The second example represents an pattern commonly seen in healthcare.

For the first time, I really feel like I understand burnout; ever increasing demands felt impossible and I found I couldn’t switch off from increasing anxiety”.

As carers, we can often feel a natural pull to being responsible, caring and looking after others. However this can become problematic when we do this to the extent of neglecting our own needs. Similar to the first example, creating a safe space to explore these dynamics is key to understanding what needs to change.

With both the above examples, we could take the reformulation further, to reflect on early childhood patterns. This helps us see similarities between the relational patterns in the here and now and in early relationships. There may be a narrative around the current coping strategies and how they have developed from childhood. With a personal reformulation, the focus is on the here and now, within the workplace. Some individuals may choose to go on and follow this up with a personal therapy. For others they may not and PR may be sufficient for understanding and/or change.

PRs may be helpful for those workplace situations where we start to notice, ‘I am struggling, I feel stuck and am not sure what to do’. We might perhaps notice feeling like ‘I’ve been here before, feeling like this, I want to do things differently’. If we notice and think about patterns causing us difficulty – which we all have – at an early stage, it may prevent further difficulty or even sickness from work. It may allow for different choices, decisions and what CAT terms ‘exits’ from these patterns.

As a PR is briefer than therapy, I feel it is worth a note about the ‘healthy’ parts of a map. If you are coming to a PR in relation to current challenges in the work place, space to explore multiple positions on the map may help by allowing a ‘zooming out’ from the difficulties. This can help you consider when things have been different. Space to remember and learn from times when we have felt more able to overcome difficulties may give us the ‘exits’ we need from our current difficulties. As we all have problematic patterns, we all have strengths and ways of surviving which are effective and allow us to feel good about ourselves.

There are different ways of doing PRs. Traditionally they took place over one longer session (up to three hours with a break). They were adapted to an extended (usually two hours) session with a follow up session (up to an hour). Since online working has become common, a further adaptation has been to conduct the PR over three hourly sessions. With all options, it is important that the therapist is trained in cognitive analytic therapy.

Catalyse personal reformulation therapists are listed on the page at this link. They are all accredited CAT practitioners or CAT psychotherapists and are familiar with the aims and methods of the CAT personal reformulation approach. Feedback from PRs has been very positive. People say that they value the process both personally and professionally. Generally feedback suggests it has helped them gain insight, recognition, awareness and understanding. Read more at the All About Personal Reformulation page.

If you are interested in exploring the idea of a personal reformulation further, contact one of the PR therapists who will be happy to discuss this further with you.

2021 CPD Survey

We’ve been thinking long and hard about CPD possibilities for the coming year. We’d appreciate your help in telling us what events and resources would be of most interest. All those on our mailing lists should have received an invitation to complete our brief anonymous survey. Just in case yours has slipped into the depths of a busy inbox, the survey link is https://s.surveyplanet.com/-M9LEOfqe It takes just a few minutes to complete. Thanks in advance: we look forward to hearing from you before the end of June 2021.

Finance Director Role

Do you like playing with money? Have a good head for figures and enjoy finance things?  We’re looking for a CAT person with a background in, or ability to learn, finance management. 

Glenys Parry, our Finance Director, is going to leave this role next year and we’re inviting expressions of interest to replace her.  She will be available to help you learn the ropes. 

The work takes up about two or three hours a week.  There is an hourly fee payable.  Although it’s about finance, the role brings you close to all the people involved with CAT training, CPD, consultancy, therapy and research activities in the North, and so it’s very interesting.  

If you want to know more, please click on the box below to see/download the person spec and job description.  

If you’re not personally interested, but you know someone who might fit the bill, please pass on this information.

Dawn Bennett