A Graceful CAT: Embedding Social Graces in CAT Dialogue ~ 15 July 2022

Past Catalyse Event

A Graceful CAT: Embedding the Social Graces in CAT Dialogue

A half day (am) workshop with Paddy Crossling and Rhona Brown

Event Hashtag: #CATGraces22

Date: Friday 15 July 2022 (am)
Time: 9.30 am to 12.30 pm
VenueElizabeth Gaskell House, Manchester
Fees:  ACAT member :: £55.00
non-ACAT member :: £65.00
(Invoicing can be requested and incurs an additional £15.00 fee)

Overview of workshop

In this half-day workshop we introduced John Burnham and Alison Roper-Hall’s concept of Social Graces and other ideas from systemic practice. These place cultural and other influences as important but often invisible and unvoiced context markers in shaping identity. The full mnemonic Social GGRRAAAACCEEESSSS refers to Gender, Geography, Race, Religion, Age, Ability, Appearance, Accent, Class, Culture, Ethnicity, Employment, Education, Sexuality, Sexual orientation, Spirituality and a further S for ‘something else’ not already included, but important.

We hoped that by marrying CAT and systemic tools which help bring visibility and voice to such factors, we can better consider intersectionality and incorporate this into CAT practice in a more direct way. We invited participants to reflect on their own contextual influences, value the meaning and importance of these, and consider their impact on therapy conversations and relationships. There were opportunities for participants to practice using these tools. We invited participants to think with us about creative ways to integrate them into the reformulation phase of CAT, ongoing processes in therapy, and supervision.

A Graceful CAT was the third in an Inclusive CAT series of full and half day CPD events focussing on CAT practice in the context of equality, diversity and intersectionality. These aim to support CAT and other therapists in working sensitively and effectively with individuals and client groups with protected characteristics. The half day builds on a workshop delivered at the Catalyse 25 Years Celebratory Conference in 2019.

You can read a blog about the event by one of the presenters at this link: Graceful Daisies in July

Aims and learning outcomes

This half day was designed to help participants

  • develop confidence in reflecting on aspects of their own identity
  • build confidence and skills in developing reflexive therapeutic conversations in therapy around various aspects of identity
  • use the tool of Social Graces as an aide to clinical supervision (self-supervision, as supervisee and as supervisor)
  • explore and adapt CAT tools to incorporate this approach

Participants had an opportunity to practice and develop skills and confidence in:

  • recognising and owning aspects of their own identities
  • inviting clients and patients into respectful and curious conversations about aspects of their identities
  • identifying reciprocal roles which are embedded in social structures and societal relationships
  • reflecting on how these reciprocal roles may be more or less visible or voiced in therapeutic relationships, and possible impacts on the alliance
  • incorporating these understandings into reformulation and mapping

Development of such skills and confidence can support therapists and services to more sensitively understand and respond to the diverse needs of service users. These may assist in recognising, understanding and responding to potential rupture.

Who is it for?

The event was relevant for qualified and trainee CAT therapists (practitioner & psychotherapist level). It was also open to other trainee and qualified therapists, including clinical and counselling psychology trainees, with some familiarity with the CAT model.


Paddy Crossling is a systemic family therapist and CAT practitioner who also offers DBT in her NHS role in a specialist psychotherapy service. She integrates these different perspectives into her CAT work. Paddy has worked in NHS services in the north west for many years, and is, in fact, due to retire in August 2022. This workshop provides an opportunity to draw on her knowledge and experience in both CAT and systemic family therapy before she begins a new chapter away from the therapy world.

Rhona Brown is a clinical psychologist and CAT practitioner also interested in systemic approaches. She is semi-retired after working for many years in complex/primary care mental health settings with adults. Over the last few years she has worked part time in the NHS in a staff support role, and also worked for a year in a CAT-informed residential service with people in recovery from drug and alcohol dependency. She also works with Catalyse, and with ACAT in a public engagement role. On a voluntary basis, she is a member of ACAT’s Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Commitee.

Rhona and Paddy previously worked together in Manchester where they would regularly consider overlaps between systemic and CAT approaches. Working with the diverse communities of Manchester, and both interested in social and cultural context, they had a shared interest in ways in which therapeutic conversations in CAT can more directly incorporate reflection on identity markers of both client and therapist. They have found the Social Graces tool to be a useful resource. Consideration of this and other systemic ideas has helped them develop a CAT-friendly adaptation.