Category Archives: Personal Reformulation

Painted wooden sign pointing to past and future

2022 Catalyse Round Up

And so the last days of January 2023 are here. Before the new year is much more behind us, and ahead of our AGM in early February, we’ve been looking back over 2022. It proved to be yet another busy year.


CAT Practitioner Training

A double cohort of 51 cognitive analytic therapist trainees began their first year of CAT Practitioner training in October 2022. We have been trying out new venues to accomodate these two sizeable groups. Our trainers are becoming accustomed to delivering the same material to each cohort, two weeks apart. It’s interesting to observe the relational and dialogical in action each time. Each group, with its unique composition, alongside the same trainers, connect with materials differently. The researchers amongst us might get excited about the potential for a naturally occuring experimental design. However we plan to keep the training as consistent as we can across the two groups.

The trainer team are grateful to all of you supporting CAT training in the North. Especially with an enhanced intake, which asks for redoubled efforts from all, we extend our thanks to all our visiting trainers, supervisors, seminar group facilitators, and markers.

The previous cohort of 24 who began their training in early 2021 remotely, in the context of the pandemic, managed to meet for in-person training days over 2022. They completed the taught component of the Practitioner training at the customary residential two days. For them this took place in November.

Again, as with each set of graduates, we feel enriched by the range and standard of written assignments. We’re excited to see some of their essays translating into blogs or articles in the future.

Catalyse Training Films

Several new courses (plus some returners and one or two individuals) subscribed to our original set of Training Films. We plan to repeat a survey for trainers & learners in early 2023 asking how they’ve supported learning. You can read the results of the previous survey at this link.

Our second set of Catalyse Training Films, featuring a range of fictional clinical scenarios & therapy dyads, has continued in post-production this year. A grant from Greater Manchester Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust made it possible to commence this initiative. A host of volunteer therapist/actors helped bring fictional outlines to life in an intensive weekend of filming in late 2021. Since then, the post-production process overseen by Kathryn Pemberton along with Brickoven Media has been moving towards completion. We look forward to making these new films available to stream in 2023.


In Conversation With Annie Nehmad

2022’s CPD programme began in March with a new informal online format. The first ‘In Conversation With….” event featured Annie Nehmad on ‘CAT & the New Psychotherapies‘. This was well attended & valued by participants, and we are starting 2023’s programme with another ‘In Conversation With….” online event. This time it is led by Elizabeth Wilde McCormick on the topic of ‘Personal Reflections on CAT’s Early Days‘. It takes place on 16th February, and there are still places available. You can read more about this event and book via this link. We’re looking forward to hearing more from Liz about her work with Tony Ryle as CAT was starting to develop. Curiosity and questions from those attending will make this session a really fascinating interactive dialogue.

CAT as a Tool for Leadership

Next up in May 2022 was a face-to-face repeat of David Harvey‘s “CAT as a Tool for Leadership“. This has been a consistently well-received event whether delivered online or in person. We are considering running a further Leadership day in 2023. Keep an eye on our Forthcoming CPD page if you are interested in attending.

Last May’s event earned very glowing feedback from participants.

“David was a really engaging speaker who incorporated our examples & questions into the content really well. Relating leadership to working with traumatised teams was especially pertinent to my work & made the course very practically useful as well as being theoretically interesting. It was also a really useful opportunity to meet with others and not feel as isolated when hearing the experiences of others. Containing and inspiring.”

A Graceful CAT: Embedding the Social Graces in CAT Dialogue

Paddy Crossling and Rhona Brown led a smaller-scale, half-day, in-person event on ‘A Graceful CAT: Embedding the Social Graces in CAT Dialogue‘ in July 2022. This built on a workshop they presented at the 2019 25 Years of CAT Practitioner Training in the North conference. One of the participants went on to enlist a further session on Social Graces for a national network event. Tools that Paddy and Rhona started to develop as part of their work are being piloted in some clinical and training settings.

“I hadn’t come across ‘social graces’ before and I really liked the conceptualisation of diversity/a feeling of difference/not belonging. It was a great opportunity to explore this both in relation to ourselves and others, and to consider how we may apply this approach in our work settings. Weaving CAT into the ‘social graces’ was an extremely helpful way of stepping out of the theory into the practice.”

Creating a Tapestry: Weaving Together EMDR and CAT

In October 2022, Mark Walker and Alison Jenaway led a sell-out face-to-face day on ‘Weaving Together EMDR & CAT‘. This was very well-received by participants, many of whom are already integrating these two models.

“Rich discussions about integrating EMDR & CAT – having recently trained in EMDR, I really valued a chance to think more relationally with other CAT therapists. It was useful to talk through clinical dilemmas in processing work & to think more about bringing neurobiology-informed approach into CAT more.”

CAT Supervisor Training Workshop

A further sell-out event in November ended the 2022 CPD year via Mark Evans & Sarah Littlejohn‘s 2-day CAT supervisor training workshop.

“Time to think through issues, refresh and consolidate learning; exercises were well though through- speed supervision & mock group supervision – both facilitators were excellent – time with CAT community & peers.”

Given increases in training places locally, and the possibility of future HEE funded CAT training places nationally, we very much encourage eligible CAT therapists to consider qualifying as accredited supervisors. Availability of supervisors is pivotal in supporting the learning and development of therapists interested in CAT. For anyone considering this, ACAT provides a helpful pdf summary of the process; “New Modular Supervisor Training Programme”. You can download this from the ACAT site page at

Dawn Bennett has also just produced a further document for those attending our supervisor training. Her document aims to answer questions raised on the day, and ahead of the follow up session. It outlines the stages of supervisor training in a little more detail. The ACAT Supervisor Training Handbook describes all of this further.

Personal Reformulation

Our team of personal reformulation (PR) therapists completed a number of PRs with people seeking this brief CAT adaptation for personal and professional development. There is uptake from CAT Skills trainees, clinical psychology trainees & a range of others.

In 2023 we hope to offer PRs as part of other training and consultation, including initiatives around leadership. If you are interested in investing in a PR experience for yourself, or for staff or teams within your organisation, then do contact us. You can read more, with links and information on how to book a PR at this link.

Other Commissioned Projects, Consultation, Training and Research

In 2022 we completed an ACAT-accredited 6 month CAT Skills training with a range of staff from a local NHS trust. We delivered a number of reflective practice sessions, in addition to staff training & consultation initiatives. These included a series of one- and two-day introductory courses on CAT Skills for NHS teams. Similarly, but with content adapted for a non-professional audience, we also helped to scaffold CAT-informed work with staff of a third sector agency. A bespoke training on Five-Session Cognitive Analytic Consultancy ended additional offerings for 2022.

There is always a lot of possible work in the pipeline. We are lucky to have the support of various associates & colleagues around the North who help us deliver additional initiatives.

Staying involved with Catalyse

We’re always pleased to hear from CAT colleagues interested in working with us in one capacity or another. You can get involved in small contained ways to begin with. Roles can extend into more substantial involvement in Catalyse as an organisation. If you’re interested, then check out the information about possibilities for involvement with Catalyse at this link. Please do contact us to express your interest.

So it’s been a busy one! More ahead in 2023. Many thanks to all those who sought out our support with Cognitive Analytic Therapy related things over the last year. We really appreciate all of you working with us to deliver trainings, CPD, PR, consultation, research & other initiatives.

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.