What is Cognitive Analytic Therapy?

Cognitive Analytic Therapy (CAT) is concerned with the way a person thinks, feels and acts, and the events and relationships that underlie these experiences – often from childhood or earlier in life. CAT is a collaborative program, meaning that it requires a “whole team” approach in the way we work with our clients. If we want to illicit a change in behaviour in our clients, we should be prepared to make changes in our own behaviour.

What is CAT for?

CAT forms the basis for the way all workers across LABSC work with our residents. CAT tries to focus on the behaviours that a resident presents with and the deeper patterns that relate to them. CAT does not focus on labels, syndromes or traditional symptoms. Instead, CAT looks at repeating cycles of behaviour.

A key element of CAT is that practitioners are expected to look at how they react to the behaviours of our clients and why we react in this way.

In a nutshell, CAT practitioners are expected to:

  • Study interactions retrospectively, to reflect on the communication and relationships we have with our clients and how we can alter our behaviours to encourage different behaviours in others
  • Look for helpful and unhelpful patterns of behaviour in our interactions
  • Try to focus on “what lies beneath”.
    • For example, if a person reacts to a particular exchange in an aggressive manner can we try to see how past experiences have influenced this aggression? Can we alter our input in these exchanges so as to avoid this aggression?
  • Be objective of our own perceptions, attitudes and feelings towards a person and their behaviour.
    • If we feel offended by what a person says or does, does this influence our attitude towards them? Is this helpful?
  • Invite change in our clients by being open to changing our own behaviour and approach
  • As a team, find consistent actions that encourage exits from patterns of unhelpful behaviour