The first run of the CPD day offered by Sarah Littlejohn and Dawn Bennett on States, Self-states & State Shifts on 19th March has proved very popular and is now fully booked. If there’s sufficient interest it may be possible to run the day again at a later stage. Contact us if you’d like to be added to a waiting list for a repeat of the event.
Café CAT was inspired by the established approach of Café Psychologique that presents a topic for an open conversation. Café Psychologique meetings in various locations have included mortality, loneliness, music, amongst many many others. It was a priority for Catalyse to promote and support an alternative informal CPD opportunity to those interested in and working with cognitive analytic therapy that also served to bring people together with a shared curiosity and interest.
So far Café CAT has met on October and January 2017 and the next is planned for 25th April 2018. I’m really pleased that we have a new voice for this one, Suzanne Riddell, who wants to explore the topic of similarities and differences between NHS and private therapy work. Do they each carry particular impressions and expectations? What’s the view from “inside” or “outside” of one or the other? What are our experiences and where does the reality lie?
The maiden Café CAT’s title was “What state are we in?” which focused on how we think about, approach and integrate states into our work. To get the Café underway I presented the first two topics with the hope that we could encourage others to get involved. At the first event I took a slightly more active approach in leading the session to get things going. It was great to get two new voices of Vikki and Lucinda to put a blog together sharing their experience of the evening.
Next up was “Exploring the tools of CAT and what’s kept post training” in January this year. After introducing the topic we quickly moved into a more conversational approach, which was the original aim of the Café. We were also in a cosier room which no doubt impacted on the feel as we were all sat around a double table arrangement, compared to the large open space before. The conversation went in all kinds of directions and opened up new ideas, highlighted some differences and left us all with new some things to consider.
One of the things that I find most exciting about these open conversations is that you don’t know where it’s going to go and what you’ll encounter. Each event has left me with a lot to reflect on and influenced my practice thereafter. In addition to this I’m getting to meet new people and those that I haven’t seen for a while. It’s like a social win, a professional practice win, and a general brain/mind win and obviously a great way to connect with others.
I’m really keen to promote and keep new voices active within the Café. I’ve got lots of ideas myself, however a variety of voices and differing views are so enriching. So as well as a summary on the Café so far this is also an active invite to bring something that you feel passionate or curious about or interested in and want to sound out an idea or experience with others. This would be greatly welcomed to keep Café CAT open and diverse, so if you have an idea get in touch and we’ll see if we can get it into the Café schedule.
We’re also interested in this developing in other areas, such as Sheffield, Leeds and Liverpool, (as well as other areas of Manchester) where there are large CAT communities.
Here are a few ideas for some future Café CAT meetings:
- Research in CAT: challenging myths and reflecting on what we might have to contribute
- Storytelling: How we tell them, the importance of them, who they’re meant for
- Social media: the impact and how this comes into or bumps against therapy
- Experiences of learning and teaching CAT: trainees, practitioners, psychotherapists
- Attending to and working with feelings in CAT
- Creativity, play and playfulness in CAT
- Adapting CAT for different client groups (eg children, people with learning disabilities)
Contact Clive for more information or to share ideas about future Cafe CAT meetings. You can follow him on Twitter at @Clive_Turpin. You can also follow tweets about the Café through its hashtag #CafeCatalyse. Otherwise join Suzanne Riddell and other northern CAT colleagues by coming along to the next meeting.
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On October 11th 2017 a gathering of the northern CAT community took place at Z Arts in Hulme, Manchester, for the first of our new Cafe CAT evening meetings. We are pleased that a couple of those attending kindly took up the invitation to write a blog on the event. We therefore welcome some new voices to our blog: those of Vikki Aadahl and Lucinda Bolger.
For the Café CAT debut a warm welcome was received at the Z-arts centre in Hulme. Young people noisily occupied in an art group and later a choir provided an engaging backdrop for a creative discussion under the title of, ‘what state are we in?’. Clive Turpin, CAT psychotherapist, greeted group members as they arrived with old and new colleagues re-connecting as everyone took their seats. Clive set the tone for the group as an open opportunity to come together to discuss, debate, share ideas and reflections on a particular CAT related theme. No presentation or teaching more a space and time for sharing thoughts, reflections and ideas.
Kicking us off was the question of, ‘what state are we in?’ What do we even mean when we start talking about states – state of mind? A state of being? A state of an organisation like the NHS? Or even the state of the world? When writing down some common states the majority of group members wanted this to be encircled:
enraged omnipotent elated child-like sadness
Where had the urge to circle states come from? Teaching? Reading? There was a felt sense of wanting to contain the visual representation of states with a visual circle. Is this paralleled with therapist’s desire to contain states? And/or are the people engaging in CAT wanting states to be contained? Do states feel uncontained?
Most group members had an understanding of states as parts of the self. So it was considered how people move between these different parts of self. What happens relationally to create a state shift? How aware are people of state shifts and the contributing factors to this shift? Members shared a common experience of individuals feeling like state shifts happen without awareness/warning.
If visually representing states on a map it was suggested that reciprocal roles can be included within the state. Some had chosen to develop understanding of a state by giving it a name – ‘zombie’, ‘hulk’, ‘behind glass.’ And naming the physical experience of the state – what happens in the body in this state? Further detail of a state was developed by thinking about what mood is generally felt in each state? Do some states give greater access to moods/emotions/feelings? Thinking relationally, can some states be more likely to lead to a rupture in the therapeutic relationship? Should this be discussed early in therapy to help prevent a rupture? Hilary Beard’s self-states form was passed around as a potential tool to facilitate these discussions. Consideration of the zone of proximal development (ZPD) was highlighted in the same way it would be with any other part of CAT therapy. For some it can be hard to name/discuss/acknowledge some states. Also shared was the potential of including a hopeful/functioning/positive state on someone’s map. Can this be represented as a ‘safe place?’ Others used the term ‘healthy island.’
The bar at the Z-arts centre was open for the break providing some sustenance to keep energy going for the second hour. In individual groups we took the state ‘helpless’ to consider sharing ideas for understanding the state. We considered the see saw between helpless and hopeful/rescue/striving state. We thought about the potential history of the state, the contributing factors, the responses of others, the potential functions of the state, feelings connected with it, potential exits or helpful responses and so on. Within a 10 minute exercise we were surprised to have generated lots of ideas.
Drawing the time to a close Clive invited suggestions for future topics for Café CAT. He invited others to host and facilitate future groups if they would want to, being open to the evolvement of the group to suit the needs of group members. An engaging start to what hopes to be a successful future for Café CAT!
Vikki Aadahl @vikkiharry
I attended the inaugural Cafe CAT meeting last week, so as to re-immerse myself into the CAT world. Sometimes an integrative way of working can feel like it risks diluting the best bits, and it is refreshing to surround myself with other people who see the world through CAT eyes.
It was helpful to have a structure (scaffolding?) which on this occasion was ‘states’, and to be given the opportunity to explore what that meant to us. After our discussions we had an opportunity to make sense of a ‘helpless’ state by drawing it out in small groups.
I would really encourage those with an interest in CAT to attend the next meeting in January.
The next Café CAT is titled ‘Exploring CAT tools: what’s kept post training’ and will be held on Wednesday 24th January 2018 from 18.15 to 20.15. We look forward to seeing you then. If you’d like to lead a future Café CAT meeting, or have any ideas or suggestions for topics, then please contact us.
If you’d like to blog about what you took away from one of our training, CPD or networking events, then please get in touch. You can subscribe to the Catalyse blog by providing your details below. If you do, you’ll receive an automatic email notification of any new blog posts when they’re published.