Tag Archives: Cognitive Analytic Therapy

CAT Practitioner Training 2023 – Recruitment Update

Sarah Littlejohn and the recruitment team extend a big thankyou to everyone who expressed interest in this year’s intake for our CAT Practitioner training course. We had a very high number of applicants this year and they have been of an extremely high standard.

We’ve now sent offers out, and have a reserve list, for the October 2023 intake. Unfortunately, we’ve not been able to offer a place to all those who were suitable.

Likewise, unfortunately this year we have not been able to offer an interview to all of those who applied. We expect it’s unlikely that there will be spare places remaining. However if we find that there are, then we may approach those not yet interviewed to ask if they’d still like to be considered.

Our current plan is to continue to run the course annually. So if you’ve been disappointed this year, we’d be pleased to welcome your application for the October 2024 cohort. For those candidates seeking NHS England funding for their training, this will be available next year too. Further good news is that we understand there will be a greater number of places available through NHSE in 2024. Details will be released in good time for the next cohort.

“Young people can sniff out inauthenticity a mile away”

We’re fortunate that Lee Crothers is running a CPD day with Catalyse while she is in the UK in June. Her day “A CAT Approach to Inclusive Practice With Young People” takes place on 9 June in Manchester. You can also join the day remotely, using the Zoom platform. Over the course of the day, Lee will share with UK cognitive analytic and other therapists her rich perspective and experience working with adolescents, young people and their families in the Australian context. Curiosity got the better of us, and we posed Lee a few questions in advance of the day.

How did you find CAT?  What was your journey into CAT?

I was fortunate to be part of Orygen youth health when we were offered training by a UK group including Ian Kerr that initially visited Australia in 2003. I was even luckier that Eva Burns Lundgren supervised me through phone conference (no zoom then!), supported by Louise McCutcheon. The three of us would huddle around the phone very early or very late in the day and fax our maps and reformulation letters.

What brought you into work with young people in particular and why do you like it?

I like the energy and hope young people bring to the room. Don’t tell my two teenagers but I like a bit of attitude too! Of course, you can have attitude and energy at any age but it is more common in young people who are finding their feet in the world. I also like how young people’s emerging perspectives of the world can challenge me and be challenged too. Young people are adaptable. They are often keen to try new things and haven’t got long histories of being stuck in relational patterns.

In your work with young people, is there a CAT tool or idea that tends to work particularly well or that you find yourself drawn to?

I am often drawn to mapping with young people. I like it when they take a photo of it on their phones and change it up with memes or phrases. Recently one of my clients told me the map needed a “glow up”. I use the visual of a target problem and maps do that well.

The idea of the target problem is one I value highly and use in my work with young people even if I am not doing traditional CAT. Establishing a shared sense of the problem is crucial; a must-do. Digging down to the real issue does bring relieved looks. I am often saying things like “it seems that what got you here was your parents being concerned about self-harm but the real issue seems to be that you feel like you don’t belong”. Writing or reformulating in a narrative way is fun to do through email exchange. Together we can put it together from bite sized pieces. It is how we take in information now – through small pieces. Putting it together with the young person is a useful process.

What is it about CAT that makes it so useful with your work with young people?

The collaborative, doing with style of CAT and the adaptable tools. I also like the direction but not the rigidity of CAT and how the ‘Three Rs’ are useful signposts. CAT has given me permission and confidence to use myself in the room in a relationally helpful way. And you can be transparent about it! Young people can sniff out inauthenticity a mile away.

While young people might lack life experience they often carry many strengths and resources to enable healing, recovery and growth. What have been the most useful ‘healthy islands’ or strengths you’ve seen in this client group over the years?

I think I may be repeating myself but the flexibility and openness of young people is a great resource. Young people today have access to so much information and I admire their energy and ability to synthesise and engage with it. They often want to help others with what they have learned. I feel hope about the world and its future working with young people. They have inherited a great climate burden and yet show such sensitivity and passion in change and shaking us up.

As well as your therapy practice you’ve done lots of work with headspace National and running CAT trainings via Orygen. What are you proudest of in this part of your work?

I feel proud and lucky that I have been part of new innovative ways of working with young people. Particularly at Orygen I’ve been part of early intervention services for young people seen as the most complex and at risk.

Recently I am proud of writing with headspace National and Orygen about a relational definition of complexity in young people. I am proud of the message that often the complexity is within the relationships between worker, system and young person rather than solely located within the young person. This became a practice principle for Orygen and headspace National that supports over 150 headspace centres in Australia. It worries me that young people take in this label of being “complex”. This work has sparked training called Relate and Reflect www.relateandreflect.com.au that teaches the relational formulation skills to headspace centres.

And….I am really proud of the book I am editing with Nick Barnes, Honorary Associate Professor at UCL. For this I’m writing a chapter with a young person, Mel, about a relational approach to working with young people with eating disorders. We had so much to say and we think we could fill a whole book. It’s a start to a working friendship that I hope continues.

In the UK there is much concern about the lack of available therapy services for people generally, and young people in particular.  Is there anything you think services here can learn from the Australian experience?

The headspace services have been a great initiative where young people aged 12 to 25 can access services without referral or cost. Professor Pat McGorry has been a tireless advocate for early intervention for youth. headspaces are youth friendly accessible services that don’t just offer counselling but things like vocational support. Often the referral pathways make access difficult for young people and there is a “no wrong door policy” with headspaces.

Because of the huge space of Australia and young people in rural and regional areas we are well prepared in offering ehealth and eheadspace is an exceptional service, well set up before lockdowns of COVID-19. Of course, we have the same difficulties of recruiting and retaining workforce. headspace National and many other CAMHS and CYMHS have early career programs or new graduate programs that perhaps UK have as well? The headspace National one supports hundreds of early career nurses, OT, social workers and psychologists over two years with extra training, supervision and clinical support.

If you’d like to hear more from Lee and build your own skills for working with young people, you can find full details and booking for her day at this link.

Image of person writing in a notepad inside a car

Behind the Scenes: CAT on Film

In her first Catalyse blog, Kathryn Pemberton reflects on moments in her role as production manager during the creation of the series of twelve training films on cognitive analytic therapy (CAT).

It is early, on a wintery Sunday morning and for the past ten minutes I’ve been shuffling around a car park in deepest darkest North Manchester. I’m suddenly very conscious that to anyone watching, my behaviour must look rather strange, if not a little bit suspicious. I am not alone either. Three dark clothed men, and my colleague, Dawn Bennett, are also here. Our heads are down, eyes focussed on the floor, all determinedly shuffling away. An observer might mistakenly think we are simply trying to stay warm, or else are possibly trying to locate a lost item in the snow. Perhaps we have been caught in a moment of intense social awkwardness…

Actually, it’s none of these things. We are here to shoot the new Catalyse training films and the three dark clothed men are members of our production crew. This morning we need to get a series of exterior shots which reflect the passage of time. The films we are shooting span five months in the life of Paul and his therapist, Lisa over the course of a sixteen session CAT. The next scenes to be shot are set towards the end of the therapy. It’s supposed to be June, and snow simply does not suggest early summer. Hence the obsessive shuffling as we attempt to kick aside the smattering of snow so it is out of shot.

We have two days to get everything filmed – yesterday we completed most of the interior scenes; a busy day with a very tight schedule and somewhere around a dozen costume changes for the actors. There’s a playful but focussed atmosphere, everyone is pulling together and there’s a definite air of excitement in the (nippy) air. Alongside this there is also, for me, a sense of responsibility. These filming days mark the culmination of months of planning and preparation in my role as production manager. I’ve been accompanied on this venture by Catalyse trainers offering much needed consultancy: Dawn Bennett, Glenys Parry and Mark Evans.

It all started as an idea reflecting a need. A series of high quality, affordable and accessible training films on cognitive analytic therapy (CAT). We started with a blank slate and lots of questions. What did we want the films to show? What was their function? Should we use actors or ‘real’ people or a mixture of both? Improvised or scripted? Should we show examples of ‘good’ therapy and then ‘bad’ therapy?

At this point we had more questions than answers and so we concentrated on what we did know. We wanted the films to be multi-functional, a training tool for different courses and services. They needed to be useful for individuals training in, or already trained in CAT. We also knew we wanted to demonstrate skills and competences using both content and process. Finally, the way the information was communicated needed to be in line with the ethos of CAT. It needed to be collaborative, scaffolding and encouraging the viewer to be an active agent in their learning.

Gradually, we began to answer some of the other questions. Quite early on we decided to use an actor for the role of Paul, the client. We were lucky enough to find a junior doctor for the role of Lisa, the CAT therapist, who had used CAT in her practice, and also had acting experience. The planets were beginning to align…

We also knew that we wanted the therapy to be realistic, and therefore, imperfect, but ‘good enough’. In doing so, we wanted to encourage debate and to get people reflecting on their own practice. For example if they didn’t agree with some of the decisions or actions of the therapist, we wanted the viewer to be curious about why they disagreed and to consider what they might do differently.

Initially, I envisioned the scenes to be semi-improvised. A rough idea of the content and scripted ‘plot points’ would guide the actors through the main content required in the scene. However, we learned during initial rehearsals that without full control of the content and the words used, we couldn’t guarantee that specific learning points would be covered. We also couldn’t be sure of the length of each film.

At this point, two things dawned on me. Firstly, I was going to have to write twelve scripts. This was the easy part in some ways as I have always written bits and pieces of plays and screenplays. The harder part was breaking it to our lovely actors that they were going to have to learn it all!

Rehearsals were looming. I had finished the scripts and the Catalyse team had studied them. We’d all agreed on the accuracy and quality of the content. By the end of this process, the actors had just two weeks to learn them. To their absolute credit, they took this request in their stride and duly learned twelve scripts in two weeks, turning up to rehearsals practically word perfect.

And that is how I found myself with numb toes, trying to bring summer to a snowy carpark in Manchester. We were lucky. The weather held, the snow stayed out of shot and we got the scenes we needed of Paul in his car (film 11, revision through recognition) before hurrying inside to defrost.

Once the filming was complete, we entered the post production period. This was where the production company edited the rough cuts, adding the on-screen text and voice overs. I can only liken this process to waiting for an exam result. I trusted that the production company had understood all our notes and directions – and had taken on board my constant requests for close ups of the SDR. The production company were very patient (how many CAT therapists does it take to agree on an edit…). At times my requests must have felt rather pedantic, but we knew the value was in the detail, and it was important to get it right.

At last, after several weeks of post-production, we all agreed on the final edit. Twelve, high quality, multifaceted, accessible training films, reflecting the ethos of CAT, and some lovely close ups of the SDR to boot.

Now we just had the small matter of the 80 page supporting materials to write…

You can find out more about the CAT training films and watch a two minute trailer at this link.

If you’re interested in using the films and supporting materials in your training or learning, check out the subscription options listed there. A discounted rate applies for ACAT members and ACAT-accredited training courses.


CATCH Trial Recruitment

Can you help the CATCH trial recruit people for a Feasibility Trial on Cognitive Analytic Therapy-informed Containment for self-Harm?

Trainee clinical psychologists from the University of Manchester are conducting this study under the supervision of Dr Peter Taylor and Dr Samantha Hartley.  Participants need to have had no previous experience of cognitive analytic therapy and be:

  • aged 16 and over
  • from the Manchester and Liverpool areas
  • currently engaging in self harm
  • not currently in therapy

For full details of ethical approval, inclusion and exclusion criteria, participant information etc, please contact the research team on the numbers below or via catch@manchester.ac.uk

Flyer outlining the Cognitive Analytic Therapy-informed Containment for self-Harm (CATCH): A Feasibility Trial