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Café CAT: The Story So Far

As the third Café CAT meeting approaches on 25th April, Clive Turpin reflects on the first two meetings and possibilities for future directions it might take.

Café CAT was inspired by the established approach of Café Psychologique that presents a topic for an open conversation. Café Psychologique meetings in various locations have included mortality, loneliness, music, amongst many many others.  It was a priority for Catalyse to promote and support an alternative informal CPD opportunity to those interested in and working with cognitive analytic therapy that also served to bring people together with a shared curiosity and interest.

So far Café CAT has met on October and January 2017 and the next is planned for 25th April 2018.  I’m really pleased that we have a new voice for this one, Suzanne Riddell, who wants to explore the topic of similarities and differences between NHS and private therapy work. Do they each carry particular impressions and expectations? What’s the view from “inside” or “outside” of one or the other? What are our experiences and where does the reality lie?

The maiden Café CAT’s title was “What state are we in?” which focused on how we think about, approach and integrate states into our work. To get the Café underway I presented the first two topics with the hope that we could encourage others to get involved.  At the first event I took a slightly more active approach in leading the session to get things going.  It was great to get two new voices of Vikki and Lucinda to put a blog together sharing their experience of the evening.

Next up was “Exploring the tools of CAT and what’s kept post training” in January this year.  After introducing the topic we quickly moved into a more conversational approach, which was the original aim of the Café.  We were also in a cosier room which no doubt impacted on the feel as we were all sat around a double table arrangement, compared to the large open space before. The conversation went in all kinds of directions and opened up new ideas, highlighted some differences and left us all with new some things to consider.

One of the things that I find most exciting about these open conversations is that you don’t know where it’s going to go and what you’ll encounter. Each event has left me with a lot to reflect on and influenced my practice thereafter.  In addition to this I’m getting to meet new people and those that I haven’t seen for a while.  It’s like a social win, a professional practice win, and a general brain/mind win and obviously a great way to connect with others.

I’m really keen to promote and keep new voices active within the Café.  I’ve got lots of ideas myself, however a variety of voices and differing views are so enriching. So as well as a summary on the Café so far this is also an active invite to bring something that you feel passionate or curious about or interested in and want to sound out an idea or experience with others. This would be greatly welcomed to keep Café CAT open and diverse, so if you have an idea get in touch and we’ll see if we can get it into the Café schedule.

We’re also interested in this developing in other areas, such as Sheffield, Leeds and Liverpool, (as well as other areas of Manchester) where there are large CAT communities.

Here are a few ideas for some future Café CAT meetings:

  • Research in CAT: challenging myths and reflecting on what we might have to contribute
  • Storytelling: How we tell them, the importance of them, who they’re meant for
  • Social media: the impact and how this comes into or bumps against therapy
  • Experiences of learning and teaching CAT: trainees, practitioners, psychotherapists
  • Attending to and working with feelings in CAT
  • Creativity, play and playfulness in CAT
  • Adapting CAT for different client groups (eg children, people with learning disabilities)

Contact Clive for more information or to share ideas about future Cafe CAT meetings.  You can follow him on Twitter at  @Clive_Turpin.  You can also follow tweets about the Café through its hashtag #CafeCatalyse.  Otherwise join Suzanne Riddell and other northern CAT colleagues by coming along to the next meeting.

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One thought on “Café CAT: The Story So Far

  1. The CAT Café sounds great, I wish we had one in Sheffield. Any volunteers? Susanne’s topic of NHS & private work is interesting for us in the Catalyse Sheffield Psychotherapy Practice because as we’re not-for-profit, we’re somewhere in between.

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