Cognitive Analytical Therapy - CAT
CAT is a ‘talking treatment’ which is used widely and is popular because it has a clear, time limited way of addressing difficulties in a way which is open and ‘makes sense’.
I use the CAT approach because of its emphasis on working together to understand patterns of thoughts, feelings and actions. It is tailored to an individual’s needs, and identifies manageable aims for taking steps towards change. This approach involves looking back to childhood to recognise how things seem to repeat in adulthood, and to understand the unconscious elements that guide us into often unhelpful ways of behaving. Do you recognise patterns?
‘why do I always end up feeling like this’, or
‘why do my relationships always seem to go this way’
...become answerable through CAT. It is very much a joint venture, nothing like the image of the patient lying on a couch whilst the therapist sits out of sight only listening to a ‘stream of consciousness’.
The range of issues CAT can help with include the common to the complex;
Mood swings - which may be abrupt or feel unmanageable
Destructive self-care, including self-harm, in all its forms
Self-care in terms of physical aspects of health
Personal/ relationship problems – making or maintaining relationships, or managing the destructive cycles within them
Anxiety, low self-esteem, lack of confidence and depression
Problems with self-image, diet or weight issues
In CAT the client and the therapist work to create shared understandings and explicitly work out together what underpins and maintains problems. We are all shaped by our individual experiences and journey in life and may recognise feeling stuck or held back, when patterns in life seem to recur. For example, if relationships never seem to work out or there are problems in how you manage them or how you handle your emotions.
Early in therapy the focus is identified and you will be able to begin to think about how you can move forward in your life. Patterns (called ‘traps', ‘snags’ and ‘dilemmas’), are clearly described and mapped out to help with the next step, which is practicing your recognition of them, as they are understood to maintain problematic ways of relating or managing feelings. As therapy progresses, the emphasis shifts towards exploring change and the ways this might be achieved.
CAT is a fairly time-limited psychotherapy, in that it is not open ended. The number of sessions is agreed, usually near the beginning of therapy. Typically, CAT takes place over 16 weekly sessions, although in some case a longer therapy of 24 weeks may be offered. It requires a commitment to weekly sessions of 50 minutes.
In my practice of CAT, I offer an initial consultation meeting, of up to 90 minutes, so that we can agree a mutual basis to work; this means consideration of suitability of CAT for you, and the length of therapy needed. You will be required to be active in the work of therapy and do tasks in-between sessions including self-monitoring or focused diary keeping in order to optimise the usefulness of the work within sessions.
I have over 20 years’ experience of helping with a broad range of personal, emotional and relationship difficulties, with grounding in mental health. I also have experience in the medical field, working with people who have long terms health conditions, diabetes and medically unexplained symptoms.
Cognitive Analytical Therapist
Cal Nield is a UKCP registered Psychotherapist (Cognitive Analytic Therapist), having an MSc in Mental Health (Psychotherapy). She is also an accredited Clinical Supervisor in CAT