Graceful Daisies in July

In this blog, Rhona Brown outlines her forthcoming half day workshop co-led by CAT and systemic family therapist Paddy Crossling.

There is a current push within ACAT for trainers, supervisors and therapists to develop skills and confidence in considering and addressing protected characteristics. Finding ways to more actively take such issues into account in therapy is recommended by UKCP’s HIPC EDI Guidance on teaching Equality, Diversity and Intersectionality in HIPC training organisations. These are shaping how ACAT-accredited training embeds aspects of equality, diversity and intersectionality throughout training and CPD. I’m involved in a working group thinking through how this can progress.

CAT has always been a model that situates the individual in their unique social context. The work of Vygotsky and Bakhtin underscored its radical social model of the self. Ryle and Kerr proposed that training therapies include ‘culture mapping’ to enable practitioners to recognise their own cultural influences and biases. However how realistic this is in each training therapy is another matter. And of course learning and personal development around these issues is life long, as we and the world continue to be fluid and unfinalised.

In contemplating tools to help us in this endeavour, a couple of years ago Paddy Crossling and I explored how we might adapt a systemic family therapy framework. The Social GGRRAAAACCEEESSSS was first proposed and shared by Alison Roper Hall and John Burnham. As a conceptual device they developed it to aid reflection on how aspects of identity impact on our relational exchanges. The letters in the mnemonic refer to Gender, Geography, Race, Religion, Age, Ability, Appearance, Accent, Class, Culture, Ethnicity, Employment, Education, Sexuality, Sexual orientation, and Spirituality. Most recent descriptions include a catch-all additional S for ‘something else’.

These hold some similarities to items included in CAT’s Psychosocial Checklist (PSC), first developed by Yvonne Harris and Janet Toye in 2004. Janet and Rachel Pollard went on to update it in 2006 but it has not been widely adopted in CAT. Like the Psychotherapy File (PF), it primarily centres the relational experience of the client. Neither of these CAT tools necessarily prompt reflection about the self of the therapist. In systemic thinking the lense is broadened to include the therapeutic system, whereby reflection gives way to reflexivity. This refers to the ability to reflect on action and use it to inform future action. The GGRRAAAACCEEESSSS help to scaffold therapist reflection in such a way that it brings to the fore what may be visible, invisible, voiced or unvoiced in our own personhood. This in turn can help us, in our actions, stay open to conversations about the interaction between client and therapist perceptions of our respective social selves.

Therapy, after all, is often about opening up conversations that are often not easy to have, in authentic ways. Inevitably this involves the complex and multifaceted personhood of both parties. Aspects of assumed, perceived and subjective identit(ies) can be powerful mediators of both the therapeutic alliance and rupture. The collaborative nature of CAT starts from a place of humility in its gradual co-construction of shared meaning. Yet understandings are seldom complete. And of course each of us brings a myriad of different life experiences and contextual positionings in the social world.

Finding our way through these can feel uncomfortable and challenging. Without some waymarks we can feel a bit lost. Often, strategies and procedures we employ to feel more safe or secure in our professional roles can powerfully influence the direction therapy takes. In order to hold space for respectful, curious conversations around aspects of identity, we need to feel at ease with uncertainties and discomforts that such exchanges can provoke. Moreover we need to be able to respond helpfully when our clients step into that space with us.

Paddy is on the cusp of retirement from the NHS, following a career spanning some fifty years. She brings much clinical wisdom as a jointly trained CAT therapist and supervisor, and systemic family therapist. Paddy also offers DBT in her busy role in an NHS psychotherapy service. Preparing for our ‘A Graceful CAT’ workshop in 2019 opened up a creative space from which emerged a ‘graceful’ daisy. In addition to the approaching season, this inspired the image we chose to advertise our forthcoming event. In our experiential workshop Paddy and I will provide an overview of these complementary frameworks and introduce this fledgling tool. There will be opportunities for both personal reflection and practice in pairs or small groups. We hope the workshop will provide a safe space for therapists feel more comfortable and confident in working reflexively with similarities, differences and power in the therapy room.

To find out more or book onto this half day in Manchester on the morning of 15th July, visit the “A Graceful CAT: Embedding Social Graces in CAT Dialogue” event page at this link.

CAT Practitioner Training – 2022 intake

Are you planning to apply for the 2022 intake of the Catalyse two year Practitioner Training in Cognitive Analytic Therapy? If so, please note that the initial deadline for applications is just over a month away, on Friday 6th May. You can find all the information you need through this link to the course page. We look forward to receiving your applications, and to interviews on 24th June 2022.

We have been looking over feedback from recent cohorts on what the experience of training has been like. One which was shared with consent for use on our website was as follows:

“An excellent psychotherapy practitioner level course that transformed the way I practice psychological therapy; I feel better able to help the clients and patients I work with and also to accept the help I cannot give.” (2018-2020 cohort)

We were heartened by this reflection. Obviously we can’t guarantee this will be the experience for all; each trainee will take something different from the training experience. But we are looking forward to recommencing the course after a year’s gap and seeing what learning we co-create with members of the next cohort.

New CPD for 2022

As we start a new year, we have a couple of new CPD events on offer. We’ve also made some changes to where you’ll find them on our website.

In Conversation With Annie Nehmad: The New Psychotherapies and CAT ~ 3 March 2022

Firstly we’re really pleased that founding ACAT member Annie Nehmad is joining us for the first of what we hope will be a new series of ‘In Conversation With…‘ events. These aim to be accessible, affordable, and perhaps a little more informal and conversational than our typical full CPD days. We hope they will give space to significant voices in the CAT community, alongside those of participants. The format aims to encourage participants to share thoughts and develop ideas together.

The first of these will be online with Annie on Thursday 3 March, from 4 pm till 7 pm. She will share her understanding of new psychotherapies which have been in development in the last decade or so. She draws on the work of Dan Siegel, his theory around Interpersonal Neurobiology (IPNB) and how this relates to trauma. She’ll go on to outline a range of new therapies including The Interpersonal Family Systems model (IFS), Accelerated Experiential Dynamic Psychotherapy (AEDP), Coherence Therapy and Memory Reconsolidation. It’ll be a chance to learn from her overview, and how she situates CAT amongst these new developments and ideas.

Participants will be invited to share their own experience and expertise, their doubts and critiques, and their questions. Annie hopes that the event will be the part of an ongoing conversation within the CAT community about whether and what we might take from such developments to help inform the CAT model. Booking is now open at this link – – and we hope you can join us.

CAT as a Tool for Leadership with David Harvey ~ 5 May 2022

Our next CPD offering will be another chance to spend a day with David Harvey. He uses CAT’s MSSM model to help consider leadership in systems. David has run this day twice before in both online and face-to-face formats. Both days have been received with much enthusiasm by participants. His new day takes place face-to-face in Manchester on Thursday 5 May. Full details and booking options are available at this link –

A few website changes too…

When you come to our website you might notice a couple of changes. As the Catalyse Sheffield Psychotherapy Practice is no longer in operation, it doesn’t appear on the menu any more. In its place is a new section solely for CPD events. We have separated these out from other Training courses, which now have a fresh green header. In the Training section you’ll find more information about the Practitioner Training and the Foundation route. You’ll also find here pages and trailers about the first set of Catalyse Training Films. The films support introductory, Foundation and Year 1 Practitioner training. In this section there are also links to other training courses we can offer. These include CAT Skills Case Management, CAT Supervision and introductory courses in CAT.

Looking forward to seeing you in two or even three dimensions in the spring, for more learning around cognitive analytic therapy.

Tell us your views on the Catalyse Training Films

* Deadline extended until the end of 2021 *

Have you shown the Catalyse Films as part of training you have delivered to others? We’d love to hear your views as part of an evaluation. You can complete our Trainers’ survey at – it just takes a few minutes to give your ratings and comments, and it’s anonymous. Please pass the link on to any other trainers who have had access to the films and supporting materials as part of your organisation’s subscription.

If you have viewed the films as a trainee or other learner we’d very much welcome your feedback too. You can complete our Learners’ survey at Again, this is very brief and anonymous.

Many thanks for your support.