Image of neon lit letters spelling out HOPE, placed roughly on fallen leaves in a dark woodland

Café CAT – reflections so far and plans for 2019

Join us for our next Café CAT meeting which takes place on Wednesday 30th January at a new Manchester city centre venue between 6.15 and 8.15 pm. The theme is Hope.

Café CAT has met four times since October 2017 as a forum for peer contact, particularly for graduates from our practitioner training who wish to maintain cognitive analytic therapy (CAT) networks. A CAT focus to the meetings provides a form of continuing professional development (CPD) for local therapists. It also functions as an “open door” for CAT in the north for people curious about CAT training at a future point. We were interested in whether and how Café CAT met these aims, and the results of our recent survey are summarised below.

In the meantime, we invite you to the first Café CAT meeting of 2019 on Wednesday 30th January, 6.15 to 8.15 pm in a new venue, the Salutation Pub in Manchester city centre. It’s a new year and a new venue so it feels apt to consider the topic of hope. Feeling a bit disheartened by the state of the things in the world currently, and wanting to free ourselves from the winter doldrums, our exit was to start the year focusing on something to lift spirits.

Rhona Brown will start off a CAT-leaning conversation at this Café meeting. Do come along if you can to be part of this conversation, and bring your own thoughts on hope. What helps us find it, or lose it? How do we communicate hope in therapy? What CAT concepts or approaches help us to mobilise this precious resource for psychological survival? You’re welcome to bring and share anything that helps connect you to a sense of hope.

The Salutation Pub serves food until 9 pm. We very much hope you can join us. There’s no need to book, just come along. Entry is £5 on the door and we have sole use of the upstairs room.

Café CAT survey – is it a useful forum?

We were interested to know what those attending any of our four Cafés made of it, but also what obstacles there were in coming along. Is this a valuable addition to events for the CAT community in the north and is this how you might like it to develop? We were also keen to invite people to get more involved so that Café CAT could become more peer-led and self-sustaining. We ran an online survey between July and September 2018. Thanks to all fifty-three people who completed this.

Who did we hear from?

Two thirds of respondents were trained to at least CAT practitioner level, and a sizeable minority were practitioner trainees. Around half of respondents were clinical psychologists with a spread of other core professions.

Why did people come and what did they get from meetings?

The strongest themes emerging from responses related to the value of connecting with CAT and CAT peers, networking and CPD. Most of this group valued learning about CAT and the informal format, although a minority wanted a bit more structure, or materials shared in advance as a way to prepare.

Why did some people not come along?

For many of those who were interested but hadn’t yet attended, the timing and location of meetings were obstacles. People expressed various preferences about either an earlier meeting during work hours, or a later evening meeting allowing for easier travel after work. However there was no consistent message to help guide a definite change. Some people asked for more advance notice or different ways to advertise the meetings.

Location

There were a number of suggestions for new geographical locations in the north where Café CAT could happen, including Liverpool and Sheffield. We were pleased to hear some respondents’ enthusiasm to have Café-style meetings in more distant locations like London, Brighton and Wales, although obviously this would be way beyond the Catalyse remit.

Topics and leaders

One or two suggestions were made for issue-based topics but unfortunately no volunteers came forward to lead a future session. We concluded that those within the northern CAT communities may be a shy and/or a very busy lot.

What did we conclude?

  • To explore different venues in Manchester, especially ones offering food and refreshments. We thought a more central venue might make for easier travel by public transport.
  • To experiment a little with the structure of the meeting, perhaps opening up topics to broader issues and encouraging a diversity of people to lead.
  • To arrange and advertise dates well in advance
  • Planning ahead is most possible if we can identify volunteers willing to start off the meeting with their perspective on a topic of particular interest. Volunteers please!
  • We can pay Café ‘leaders’ £40 for their preparation time and initial direction at meetings. There will always be members of the Catalyse group present to help you along and CliveTurpin who coordinates this strand of work is always happy to support and keep the conversation flowing.
  • To advertise more widely to reach everyone, via NWPPN, plus local core training courses such as clinical and counselling psychology doctorates. If you have contacts with other networks (eg psychiatry trainees, therapeutically minded GPs, social workers, etc) please do share flyers or point them to our website.
  • There’s no reason why CAT colleagues in the north can’t set up their own regular local meetings outside of Manchester. We could provide support and mentoring for this, but local meetings don’t have to be under the Catalyse/Café CAT umbrella. You might have ideas about how informal CPD and networking will work best in your own context. Several models exist, including regional ACAT groups, Collaborate CATchup meetings in Cambridge, and CAT Cumbria meetings in the Lakes.

Next steps

So for the start of 2019 we will make some of these changes and very much hope that you will join us on the 30th. Further plans for Cafe CAT in 2019 will be agreed in January and we welcome any further feedback on the timing and choice of venue as well as what may make it something of value for you. We’d especially like to hear from anyone with a topic they’d like to share and explore with a group of colleagues. Consider leading a future conversation.

For more information about Café CAT, check out the hashtag #CafeCatalyse on Twitter, take a look at the page at this link, or read Clive Turpin’s last blog about it – Cafe CAT:the Story So Far