CAT on Twitter:
Update April 2017 - Rhona Brown

In October 2016's e-newsletter (please scroll down this page to view), I provided an overview of ACAT's Twitter activity since taking this on in May 2016. I continue to tweet on behalf of ACAT and the account - @Assoc_CAT - now has over 700 followers. To date I've provided updates and announcements for members about ACAT events, pointed to other information relevant to CAT, and have also engaged with others in the Twittersphere who are interested or curious in what CAT is.

As with most things in life, Twitter can be most lively and interesting when interacting with (or at least observing) others there with shared interests.  I can ask questions in response to others' tweets, comment on them and retweet them, so that messages of interest are shared more broadly.  There's also a lot to be said for following other accounts where views expressed are quite different, and sometimes challenging.  This can help to support a critical awareness of the larger world and also helps to keep a check on how others see us.  For example through Twitter we've had useful feedback and suggestions from members of the public about ACAT's website and how we might communicate and explain CAT concepts better.

I was pleased at the Tony Ryle Memorial event - hashtag #ACATryle17 - to meet "IRL" (in real life) some colleagues I'd previously only met through tweets.  You can check out the hashtag #ACATryle17 as an experiment to see more than 100 tweets from that day, shared by a dozen different tweeps. 

When new ACAT events are entered onto the ACAT CPD webpages, they're assigned a hashtag so you can check out more information about them before, during and after the event. 

If you're tempted to join me and other colleagues in the Twittersphere then we'll see you there.  There's no need to say anything unless you want to.  It's quite okay to "lurk" and stay in a listening role.  If you don't want to set up a Twitter account but would like to know what sorts of things relevant to ACAT are happening on Twitter, then you can do this by just entering a relevant hashtag into your search engine. 

We hope to hold a Twitter fringe event prior to the International Conference in September 2017- hashtag #IntCAT17 - further details available soon.  If you have ideas on what this should include then please do contact me.  If you organise regional or special interest group events, consider agreeing a hashtag in advance, and feel free to contact me if you'd like advice on this.

Of course social media is not without its challenges, and we're also currently drafting a Social Media Policy for ACAT which will provide guidance for members.  In the meantime please refer to HCPC and other professional guidance.

Prior to the General Election on 8th June, the Charity Commission guidance on pre-election communications will have a bearing on ACAT's twitter activity.  During this time I'll be restricted in what @Assoc_CAT can 'like', comment on, or retweet.  These restrictions apply to all public bodies and charities.  We hope to issue further information and guidance on this.

In the meantime if you have any news or updates from regional or special interest groups which you'd like to be shared over the ACAT twitter account, or if you spot other CAT-related publications, activities or news you think the world should know about, then contact me at

Or else get tweeting!

Rhona Brown, CAT Practitioner


ACAT on Twitter & Social Media
(As published in ACAT's Autumn 2016 Newsletter)

Rhona Brown, CAT Practitioner, offers some information and reflection of ACAT's Twitter activity and how members might become involved.

So what is ACAT doing on Twitter?

In addition to its website, ACAT has had both a Facebook page for some years, and a Twitter account since 2015.   These have not been very active because of the time required to maintain them.  This year the Trustees decided to invest some additional resource in a six-month pilot to build up a Twitter presence.  Having had some experience in this area through a digital engagement role with Catalyse, I took this on for 4 hours a week from May 2016 and tweet as @Assoc_CAT. 

ACAT Trustee Ruth Carson has provided very responsive first-line support in the first few months of this venture.  Given how new ACAT is to the social media world, we are taking a cautious "baby-steps" approach as we find our feet and learn what opportunities and challenges this brings to ACAT.  We decided not to tweet (as ACAT) about some topical issues suggested by members, for example Brexit, the Chilcot Report and the tragic murders of disabled people which took place in Japan in July.  Instead we've encouraged individual members to set up their own accounts in order to use their voices directly on Twitter, which ACAT can then share and amplify. 

By writing this article I hope that some more of our 900 members will consider joining the 400+ following @Assoc_CAT currently. 

What is Twitter all about?
Twitter gives users ("tweeps") the opportunity to converse with others using brief (140 character) statements or questions.  One term for this is "microblogging".  The brevity involved can make the CAT-familiar term of "utterance" seem particularly apt.  Links to online resources can be added, as can images and video.  It takes a bit of practice to become accustomed to this limit and manage to convey anything meaningful.  However by listening, watching how others communicate, and persevering with attempts, skill in using this parsimonious style can develop.  There's certainly a sense of learning a new language and structure for our utterances and a whole different means of communication as you enter the Twitter world.  Does this meet the definition of a speech genre? On Twitter, you could pose a query like this and find yourself in a conversation with tweeps all around the world.

Why does ACAT want to be on social media?
An aim of the pilot is to increase public and professional awareness about CAT and ACAT, through making information easily available on social media.  It benefits ACAT to have accurate information about CAT, its values, and what it can offer, visible and easily accessible in a world where communication increasingly relies on online channels.  Another aim is to promote ACAT's training and CPD activities, potentially engaging others to begin or progress in CAT training journeys.  A growing membership helps sustain ACAT as a charitable organisation.  Twitter also provides a very immediate means of public communication amongst the existing ACAT membership.  News, events, updates and opinions can be shared quickly, not just in a one-way broadcast sense, but in a reciprocal, collaborative and shared dialogue.  Members can share and comment on information with each other, and with their broader Twitter networks. Conversations can be initiated and items of potential interest to others within the CAT community can be highlighted.  This can be a powerful means of sharing resources to help access and foster CPD, strengthening ties within the CAT community and providing space to express different interests and perspectives.

Posts can be 'liked' and shared with followers via re-tweets (RTs).  Tweets can therefore spread far beyond the original network, and bearing in mind the CAT idea of the addressee is therefore very relevant.  One's addressee on Twitter has to be the whole of Twitter and beyond.  

It can be seen as a very egalitarian environment, offering a means of easy horizontal communication and participation.  As an open public platform, Twitter offers much opportunity for reaching and interacting with others across traditional boundaries and hierarchies.  On Twitter you can follow others freely and others who are interested in what you have to say can follow you.  Contact can be made or conversations initiated by any Twitter user.  This can open up marvellous opportunities for learning from diverse sources, networking and collaborating.  This has the potential to aid ACAT's engagement with third sector organisations and communities which are marginalised. 

What are the risks and how can I avoid making mistakes?
Of course such an open platform for connection can also bring challenges.  It should be noted that nothing is forgotten on the internet.  Once it's out there, it can't be taken back, so care must be taken never tweet anything you wouldn't be happy to have on your front door.  For therapists and health professionals there are additional considerations and requirements to bear in mind to ensure that social media is used in an ethical and professional manner.  At the time of writing the HCPC have just launched a consultation on new draft guidelines for social media use by registrants:

ACAT does not yet have a social media policy but this is being considered.  Our northern colleagues at Catalyse set up a Twitter presence in late 2014 (@CatalyseC) and on the back of this created a couple of pages for would-be tweeps on their website.  One of these provides links to a range of useful how-to resources, professional guidelines, and articles of interest.  Exploring these may help you feel more informed and clear about key professional and ethical do's and don'ts on Twitter. 

You can find this page at

Who's on Twitter already? 
Claire Walsh (@tarringtherapy) has set up  a "CAT People" Twitter list.  If you have a Twitter account you can ask Claire to add you to this list.  You can also subscribe to it whether or not you're a list member.  Subscribing is free and means you can access the list quickly through your own Twitter profile.  Lists help you organise accounts so that your feed stays manageable.  For example if you click onto Claire's list, then the feed you can see shows only tweets and retweets from those with an interest in CAT.  At the time of writing this list has nearly 40 members.  These include CAT therapists from the UK, Spain, Italy, New Zealand and Australia, plus others who are engaged and curious about the model.  If you need some companions in the Twitterverse, this list of "more knowledgable others" may be a good place to begin. 

Bear in mind that in addition to finding solidarity with those of like minds, Twitter offers an unparalleled opportunity to enter a polyphonic world where your perspectives can be refreshed, stimulated and challenged by many diverse voices.  In fact, unless you engage with a range of perspectives it can feel a far less interesting and worthwhile place to be.

What about hashtags?
Hashtags are #terms which help to catalogue tweets under topics so that you and others can search for them more easily.  You can choose and create hashtags, which should be brief and if possible, unique to your topic or event.  This helps ensure that a search using that hashtag provides you with a stream of relevant tweets which are not mixed up with lots of other topics.  From experience I can say that it's no mean feat to create a CAT-relevant hashtag which avoids infiltration by those with feline interests.  Be warned! 

There are several CAT-specific hashtags on Twitter, including #CognitiveAnalyticTherapy #CATdialogue, #CATtweetZPD, #ReciprocalRoles #PersonalReformulation and  #CATcasemanagement.   There are others which are relevant but not specific to CAT, for example #Dialogism #Bakhtin and #ZoneofProximalDevelopment.  There are also hashtags for several CAT CPD events which collate tweets relating to these.  The busiest to date have been #CATpsychosis15, #ICATA15, #CATpsychosis16, and most recently #ACATconf16. If you're planning a CPD event, consider including a hashtag in the promotional material.  This way conversations about the event or topic can begin even before it takes place.

A hashtag that may be of particular interest to those starting out in social media is #CATtweetZPD; this curates conversations (and invites further comments) on the question "What's helped you feel comfortable (or not) on Twitter? Any #ReciprocalRoles? Any advice to share?" 

Responses to date help to identify some key reciprocal roles.  Predictably, those of us already on Twitter can identify a number of benign RRs including:

Informing to informed
Understanding to informed and understood
Connecting to connected
Generously giving, sharing, contributing to gratefully receiving and valuing

More challenging RRs were identified as:

Judging to judged
Scrutinising to scrutinised
Attacking to attacked

These may perhaps be more dominant for those who are wary of entering the online world.

My own experience of Twitter to date is that it offers an incredibly rich environment for CPD in its broadest definition, ranging from accessing academic material with bespoke curation; to building relationships via individual and group discussion; to learning from others who hold a range of different life and professional experiences and perspectives.  I feel I've benefited from making and maintaining connections with others nationally and internationally, and look forward to meeting some now familiar and valued Twitter colleagues "IRL" (in real life) at future events. I feel privileged to have witnessed and shared many little (140 character) gifts of humanity offered by other tweeps, and do consider it to be a strongly relational and at times surprisingly emotional environment.  A Bakhtinian analysis of Twitter is way beyond the aims of this article but many Bakhtinian concepts seem to me to be extremely relevant. 

On the downside, it can be a place to inadvertently lose oneself, and so time discipline can be important. If "IRL" relationships are becoming squeezed out by online relationships then this may flag the need for a rethink.  Misunderstandings are always possible given the character limit, and disagreements inevitable within such a multivoiced setting.  As a public-facing voice of ACAT, we are finding our way with how to respond and manage when difficult interactions arise and this is an ongoing process.  There's also an ongoing interesting journey for me in relation to personal and professional boundaries and how much of a "public professional" I want to be.  While I now feel quite comfortable tweeting on behalf of an organisation, I still harbour some mixed feelings about having an account of my own, and this can vary from day-to-day.  Learning how other tweeps navigate these issues is part of the journey, and there are some wonderful models out there for being authentic in a digital environment.

Get involved!
With the number of CAT people on Twitter gradually building, visible online conversations are helping to raise awareness of the value of the model in its many potential applications.  In this way the original aims of the pilot are becoming more shared and distributed amongst colleagues, for which I'm grateful.  I invite all members to consider joining those of us who are already there. even if your starting point is as a quiet and anonymous "lurker" (we've all been there!).

Even if you're not yet ready to take this step, it may be that you can contribute to ACAT's Twitter and other potential social media activity in different ways.  For example you may be able to suggest topics, brief definitions, and online links to tweet for a potential #CATAtoZ project.  Additionally you may be able to help us develop some accessible video or audio material on CAT which can be made available online to help promote CAT; on the website, through tweets, and on YouTube. Some of you kindly took part in #CATVideoBooth interviews at the Exeter conference.  Unfortunately, poor sound quality means we may not be able to make use of these of videos, but it was helpful as a trial to guide our thoughts and forward planning for next year's conference. 

If you have any ideas, resources or skills to share in relation to creating some video materials on CAT then please contact Penny Waheed or me, and we'll be happy to discuss further.  Likewise if you have any queries, opinions, comments, ideas or advice on the role of social media within ACAT, then please do get in touch.

Thanks are due to many co-tweeps, in particular to @RuthCarson26 (Ruth Carson, ACAT Trustee), @YPPsych (Nick Barnes), @Abrar71 (Abrar Hussain) and @psicopeix (Carlos Mirapeix) for their engagement and collaboration on #CATtweetZPD.  Thanks also to @tarringtherapy (Claire Walsh) for maintaining her list.

Rhona Brown, CAT Practitioner, currently tweets as both @Assoc_CAT and @CatalyseC, which can lead to some unusual self-to-self conversations on Twitter.  She has developed self-states for each but recognises this needs revision! 

You can contact her via

ACAT Calendar for July
77th July 2017
CPD Event: ACAT: CAT, Neuroscience and the Self
1212th July 2017
CPD Event: 5 Session CAT Approach - offered by Tees, Esk and Wear Valleys NHS Foundation Trust
1414th July 2017
CPD Event: Mapping Mortality in CAT - offered by Catalyse
2121st July 2017
CPD Event: CAT, Neurosciences & the Self - offered by the Somerset Partnership NHS Foundation Trust
2626th July 2017
CAT Skills Training: CAT Skills Case Management - Munro Centre

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