Safety and CAT: Containing Distress to Manage Risk ~ 14 May 2024

Past CPD Event

Safety and CAT: Containing Distress to Manage Risk

A one day workshop led by David Harvey, Cognitive Analytic Therapist and Consultant Clinical Psychologist

Event Hashtag:  #CATrisk24

Date: Tuesday 14th May 2024
Time: 9:30am to 4:30pm
VenueChamberspace, Elliot House, 151 Deansgate, Manchester, M3 3WD
Fees:  ACAT member :: £130.00
non-ACAT member :: £145.00
(Lunch and refreshments included)

Overview of workshop

Working to enhance safety in the face of risk can be challenging and often takes place in the context of multiple and complex needs, reflecting histories of adversity and neglect. Self-harm, suicide, violence, sexual violence, self-neglect, exploitation, child neglect and concerns about parenting capacity all involve risks that can leave professionals grappling with emotionally charged relational dynamics. These all have the potential to obscure and threaten well balanced and clear assessment and safety planning, sometimes leaving practitioners and service users feeling overwhelmed, confused, anxious or exasperated.

In this one-day workshop, David provided structure, time, space and support for attendees to discuss concepts drawn from cognitive analytic therapy using didactic, self-supervision and small group work formats. The day focussed on clear theoretical explorations and the attendees were given ample opportunity to apply the concepts to their own work contexts and scenarios to help with reformulation and clarity in deciding approaches to take.

The day gave an opportunity for attendees to stop and think about their work through a CAT lens with an emphasis on safety planning, risk assessment, risk management and interventions at the individual level, as well as team working supporting other staff, teams and organisations in a CAT consultant role. Attendees also had the opportunity to explore the concept of self-care applied to those they may support or supervise and also themselves in their work context.

Patient safety is a current priority for many NHS Trusts and other services, and this training helped enhance confidence and capacity to promote and embed relational awareness in the complex systems in which we work.

All attendees received an attendance certificate following the event, for their CPD records.

Related past events

This event developed from the successful day run by Jenny Marshall along with David in September 2023. That previous event was offered primarily for people fairly new to CAT. Last year’s event page includes some feedback from participants. To meet the needs of more experienced practitioners, David adapted this event for people who are already familiar with the model and its application. You can read a blog about the background to the first day at the link at: Reflecting on Risk to Others.

Aims and learning outcomes:

Participants had an opportunity to:

  • explore how the cognitive analytic therapy (CAT) model can be used in working with risks and to enhance safety planning
  • use CAT to reformulate behaviours that cause concern or impair optimum functioning at an individual or system level
  • utilise reformulation to hone in on understanding areas of concern and to inform recommendations, treatment and risk management plans
  • apply the CAT model to team and system dynamics to enable helpful responses to complex system functioning, and
  • consider wellbeing and self-care when working with risk to others and supporting others who are doing so

Who was it for?

This event was suitable for trainee and qualified CAT Practitioners and Psychotherapists, plus other professionals with some previous experience of CAT. As a minimum we recommended that attendees had attended at least a two-day introductory CAT course or equivalent (e.g. CAT placements or teaching on post graduate clinical training programmes).

The day aimed to provide a cross-specialism learning environment and was relevant to professionals working with issues of risk and safety in a range of settings. Such issues might include self-harm, suicide, violence, sexual violence, self-neglect, exploitation, child neglect or concerns about parenting capacity. Attendance therefore suited:-

  • registered mental health nurses
  • social workers
  • residential and social care staff
  • clinical, counselling and forensic psychologists
  • psychiatrists
  • occupational therapists
  • probation officers/offender managers
  • prison officers
  • approved premises housing or residential workers
  • any practitioners and managers working in crisis teams, mental health liaison services, community mental health teams, safeguarding, and child protection.


David Harvey is a Consultant Clinical Psychologist and Cognitive Analytic Therapy Practitioner working for over fifteen years in forensic inpatient and community services in Yorkshire. More recently he has been developing psychological services overseas. In the majority of his career he has worked in services supporting people with complex mental health needs, who may pose a risk of harm to others or themselves.  This includes work with the NHS, probation, courts, children’s services and prisons.

He has a particular interest in how effective working and proportionate risk management can become disrupted when professionals, services and organisations are managing their own powerful emotional reactions to the work. Such dynamics can arise through work with people with clinical presentations that can challenge services, such as those likely to attract diagnosis of ‘personality disorder’. David has become increasingly attracted to the idea that the application of psychological theory (including CAT) outside of the therapy room may be one way to enable the multiple and complex needs of many stakeholders to be considered and carefully balanced. He has written and published on these issues. In a forthcoming chapter for the new CAT forensic book he has written on relational and leadership approaches to patient safety and quality improvement.

David brings to this event the wealth of his experience alongside his theoretical clarity about the application of CAT’s Multiple Self States Model to an organisational context. His training style is consistently and highly valued by participants on events he has run for Catalyse.


Chamberspace, Elliot House, 151 Deansgate, Manchester, M3 3WD