Cognitive Analytic Therapy (CAT)

Cognitive Analytic Therapy (CAT) was developed in the early 1980’s as a collaborative method of looking at how we think, feel and act and at the events underlying these experiences. It is fundamentally relational, based on empathy, genuiness and respect, combining ideas and understanding from different therapies, neuroscience, developmental and attachment theory.

It is cognitive because it draws on and enhances our capacity to stand back and look at what we are doing and experiment creatively with revising our choices.

It is analytic because it helps us to understand how past experiences have shaped those choices.

It is person-centred because it focuses on our way of being in the world, learning styles, use of language and values. It helps us bring compassion and understanding to our different states of mind and celebrates our survival strategies and resources.

Exploring our patterns of relating often brings about beneficial change for those around us as well as for ourselves. This means that CAT is also effective for couples and families working together.

CAT provides a therapeutic structure within which a whole variety of tools can be tailored to individual needs and learning styles and to realistic and manageable goals for change. After a few sessions of initial exploration, the client and therapist agree together how long they might work and what the work will focus on. It is a time-limited therapy – often between 8 and 24 weeks, but it can also be used over a longer period.

Catherine Shea

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