CAT Psychotherapist Clive Turpin shares reflections from the last Skills Lab held on 14th October 2016.
The last Skills Lab at our twice-a-year Projects Forum was led by Jo Varela, a Clinical Psychologist and CAT Practitioner working in Sheffield with children and young people, and also with people with a learning disability. Jo has a lot of interest of how technology can enhance therapy as another tool of engagement. Since the Skills Lab took place, she published an article on this in the Winter 2016 edition of Reformulation where her thoughts are outlined in more detail.
The hour started with the question “what apps do you use and what do they provide for you?”. The answers seemed to parallel various aspects of therapy: connection, purpose, memory, prompts, information, validation, improvement, communication and reinforcement.
We thought about how apps can be used to tell a story, or function as a mobile form of memory. Someone stated the fascinating idea of curating their profile and the idea of a museum of self.
We reflected on these answers, what our phones mean to us and what happens when they’re lost, misplaced or damaged. We thought about how disconnected we can feel when parted from our customary devices.
This moved on to a reflective exercise considering the reciprocal roles we hold towards our phones, what we get from them and how the relationship is maintained. This was an intriguing process where our core reciprocal roles and patterns quickly become evident in how we relate to our phones…. Why should that be surprising? But initially it was!
After reflecting on this as a group, we looked at a range of different apps and how they can be used to support the work of cognitive analytic therapy. Jo mentioned several CBT-based apps recommended to her by clients (she lists these in her article). Sifting through the many available apps for ones that are useful, relevant to CAT practice and acceptable to clients can be a challenge, so hearing about these was helpful. Starting such a conversation raises lots of hope and excitement but at the same time throws up many questions too about privacy, safety, and effectiveness. From a CAT perspective we thought that apps could be particularly useful in helping people recognise when they are engaging in patterns that cause them problems. We also liked the potential of mobile based diaries.
Jo and Steve Kellett are in the process of developing an app specifically for CAT, in partnership with Catch, the University of Sheffield’s Centre for Assistive Technology and Connected Healthcare. They’ve surveyed CAT practitioners about what they want in a CAT app, using the questionnaire here. From this they have created two versions and a third will be refined after feedback from clients who have already completed a cognitive analytic therapy. They plan to conduct a feasibility and pilot study early this year, where current clients try to use the app and will be interviewed about how they’ve found it. Catalyse is supporting this venture with both some funding and the involvement of therapists and clients from our Sheffield Psychotherapy Practice. It’s exciting to be part of this initiative. Perhaps once the app is fully developed, another Skills Lab can help practitioners become confident to use it in therapy.
What apps have you found useful either personally or in your therapy work? What problems or concerns do you have about suggesting or recommending apps? Leave a comment if you’re happy to share your reflections.
If you feel inspired to offer a Skills Lab, then get in contact with me or Cheryl Delisser and we will work with you to make it happen. Our next Projects Forum takes place on 19th May 2017 in Manchester, and we’d love to hear any suggestions or offers to lead the Skills Lab hour.