Therapy for Parents and the Family Court Process ~ 10 December 2021

Past Catalyse Event

Therapy for Parents and the Family Court Process: opportunities and dilemmas

An online day workshop with Emma Taylor, Lynn Findlay and a parent with lived experience of the court process – integrating CAT practitioner, children’s social worker, and parent perspectives

Event Hashtag: #CATFamCourt21

Date: Friday 10 December 2021
Time: 9.30 to 4.30 pm
Venue:  Online via Zoom
Fees:  ACAT member :: £95.00
non-ACAT member :: £110.00
(Invoicing can be requested and incurs an additional £15.00 fee)

Overview of workshop

With cognitive analytic therapy now frequently recommended for parents by family courts and Local Authorities, the workshop offered an opportunity to learn about commissioning and delivery of CAT for carers within these systems. It was co-facilitated by a CAT practitioner and expert witness for family courts, a mother who had CAT within Court proceedings and a children’s social worker. They provided an opportunity for discussion of the dilemmas and opportunities in this growth area.


The day aimed to help participants:

  • Develop their awareness of the parent’s lived experience of child protection process and court, and how this can impact on their relational patterns with professionals
  • Consider how CAT can inform child protection, including in pre-proceeding work, expert witness work, delivery of CAT within family court process and after proceedings have concluded
  • Increase understanding of often recommended therapy modalities, timing of therapy, what can be expected of therapy and commissioning considerations for therapy within the safeguarding arena and family court proceedings
  • Understand key issues in commissioning CAT and for therapists to consider in their contract
  • Understand multiple systems surrounding the therapy, including the Local Authority safeguarding process, legislation, and timing and role therapy and therapist may play within these
  • To consider possible multiagency and relational dilemmas and traps within court directed therapy. We will consider how to understand and navigate these within a CAT framework with an emphasis on empowering participants to co-create formulations and exits using case material
Learning outcomes

Specifically, the day offered therapy providers opportunity to:

  • learn how to recognise the needs and influences of Local Authorities and legal process, and how to work effectively within them.
  • gain increased confidence and ability to engage with an often disadvantaged population that struggle to access CAT as required by Court

It offered social workers and commissioners opportunity to:

  • develop understanding of different therapy modalities and what can be realistically expected of therapy in the safeguarding process
  • gain ability to identify how and when CAT might be useful for enhancing working with parents or increasing their ability to parent

The day aimed to enhance the ability of all participants to:

  • commission and contract therapy safely and cost effectively
  • engage with carers and nurture hope within and after trauma
  • understand common problematic procedures and dilemmas presenting in therapy
  • appreciate CAT mapping and formulation techniques
Who was it for?

The event was relevant for qualified and trainee CAT therapists (practitioner & psychotherapist level), and other qualified and trainee therapists. It also aimed to inform the perspectives of expert witnesses from a range of disciplines including psychiatry.

Additionally, the day was intended for a broader audience of those working within Local Authority children’s social care settings and the Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service (Cafcass), including social workers, local authority managers, commissioning managers, and independent reviewing officers (IROs).


Dr Emma Taylor is an independent clinical psychologist, CAT practitioner and supervisor, with 30 years of clinical experience. She has extensive experience of writing reports and giving evidence for the family court as an expert witness. In this role she assesses parents’ mental health, risk and capacity to change. Additionally, she delivers CAT for parents as directed by family court, typically commissioned by Local Authorities.

Lynn Findlay is dual qualified as a social worker and an integrative counsellor/psychotherapist. Lynn has over 20 years’ experience as a social worker in children’s social care, from duty teams to the adoption process, and considerable experience of court proceedings. She currently works independently as a social worker, alongside her own counselling private practice. She designs and delivers training, specialising in safeguarding issues.

Emma and Lynn will be joined by a parent who has direct experience of the court process and CAT as a therapy in this context.

Evaluation for this event

To complete evaluation of this event, participants can find an anonymous online survey at

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