Cognitive Analytic Therapy

CAT is an integration of cognitive and analytic psychotherapy. It is time limited with an agreed ending, the ending being an important part of the therapy. 12 weekly sessions is average, but 5, 8, 12 or 24 may be negotiated according to your need. It is used with a range of issues, including personal growth/ understanding, stress, depression, eating difficulties, self harm and relationship problems. It is widely available within the NHS, including in Sheffield community mental health teams.

Problems are understood in the light of your personal history and life experiences. The first 3-5 sessions focus on understanding how your life history may have affected how you cope now with situations and relationships. The therapist will write a letter to you with their understanding of your story, and giving some ideas of difficulties we might work on. In later sessions, you are encouraged to start recognising and becoming aware of your emotions and how you handle situations and relationships.Together, simple diagrams are drawn to map how you interact with your world and the people around you. You use these diagrams in and out of sessions to help your reflection. We look at how you want to manage now and in future, including building on your existing strengths and resources. We negotiate tasks for you to do between sessions to help your development.

CAT focuses on how we relate to others and ourselves, and the feelings that come up in relationships. The relationship with the therapist is important in uncovering these patterns, and helping you to feel understood. So in CAT we work with you to identify patterns of relating to people and to yourself, and ways forward for the future.

For more information, including clients experiences of using CAT, go to the Association of Cognitive Analytic Therapy website