CAT Skills for working with Complex Clients in Health, Mental Health or Forensic Settings
6th May 2015 to 23rd October 2015

WARNING! This event has passed.

CAT Skills Training 2015

‘Cognitive Analytic Therapy (CAT) Skills for working with Complex Clients in Health, Mental Health or Forensic Settings

If you are working with clients either on an individual basis, within a group or a team, ward or prison based setting where you may or may not be providing 1:1 therapy as part of your role. 

with Dr Karen Shannon, Dr Marisol Cavieres and Dr Dawn Bennett

Leading to Accreditation by the Association for Cognitive Analytic Therapy (ACAT)


The Women's Organisation

54 St James Street

Liverpool L1 0AB

T +44 (0) 151 706 8111 (contact only for venue related matters)

5 Training dates in 2015

Wednesday, 6th & Thursday, 7th May

Friday, 3rd July

Monday, 7th September 

Friday, 23rd October

This course is a repeat of a successful six month long, multi-professional skills training certificate in Cognitive Analytic Therapy (CAT) accredited by the Association for Cognitive Analytic Therapy (ACAT). It consists of five Theory & Skills training days combined with 35 hours of supervised clinical work, one personal development therapy session (½ day) and two reflective pieces of writing (2,500 words) on the use of CAT ideas and methods. The course aims to enable core professionals with competence in their own mental health field to enhance their relational and therapeutic skills by using concepts and therapeutic skills derived from CAT.  The course will be of value for psychologists, psychiatrists, nurses, offender managers, therapists, counsellors or social workers working in prison, forensic or mental health forensic settings.

Cognitive analytic therapy combines a relational approach to cognitive and behavioural therapies with current aspects of psychodynamic thinking about personality problems and the helping relationship.  It is a therapy, which has proven popular with a wide range of professionals responding to the complex needs of clients, thought of as ‘hard to help’.  It is in the NICE guidelines as a promising therapy for Borderline Personality Disorder. The course will focus on the use of CAT as a versatile method of formulating effective professional practice in adult mental health and forensic settings and will include the following areas:

  • It explores the relational origins of personality difficulties and trauma. It uses collaborative activity-based approaches to a therapeutic relationship by using personal maps, enactments and writing.
  • Links between personality disorder, difficulty seeking and using help, offending behaviour and common mental health problems will be explored.
  • Demonstrations by course leaders and practice by participants will address methods for working relationally and collaboratively with clients and in multi-professional teams; understanding and monitoring risk; and developing therapeutic understanding with clients in the context of everyday work.
  • The course serves as a good foundation for developing some clinical skills and developing skills in reflective practice in teams.

Who is this course for?

  • Participants will need a core mental health profession, have employment in health, mental health and/or forensic settings, some familiarity with psychological approaches and interest in and aptitude for interpersonal and relational approaches to working with issues of risk and offending.
  • Completion of all courses component and submission of written work will allow course members Skills Certificate Accreditation by the Association for Cognitive Analytic Therapy (ACAT) in the UK.
  • Participants can attend individually or as a group of colleagues.  Elements of, or the entire course can be adapted and tailor made for in-house training.

What will I learn from the course?

  • Learn to formulate origins, context and triggers to trauma, challenging and risky behaviour
  • A framework for understanding and working with service users and colleagues in treating and managing psychological and relational aspects of mental health, and personality disturbance and risky behaviours
  • Develop a shared language for inter professional work based upon CAT’s approach to cognitive relational processes
  • Use CAT for planning and assessing effectiveness of a variety of interventions and risk management.

What does the course involve?

  • The skills certificate takes six months to complete and involves five days of theory and skills training, a personal development component (½ day), thirty five hours of telephone or small group supervision, depending on your locality. It is assessed through two reflective pieces of writing (2,500 words minimum) on your use of CAT ideas and methods. Participants will normally sign up for the whole course.

Testimonials from previous CAT Skills training:

“It was one  of  the  few  things  I  have  attended  over  the  years  where  I  felt  I  am  really   learning  and  developing  as  a  practitioner”

“I   have   learnt   so   much, both   about   the   clients   and   my   own   expectations   of   myself   and what is realistically achievable”

“I have found it really useful to think about my practice  – not only in terms of one   to   one   work   with   clients   but   also   in   formulating   and   understanding   other   dynamics within the team”

“CAT   has   taught   me   a   lot   about   risk   assessment   and   management   in   terms   of   being   able   to   use   a   patient’s   formulation   to   obtain   a   richer   understanding   of   exactly where the risky behaviour is located and likely triggers”

“I would recommend it to anyone working with the typically complex clients found   in forensic settings”

“I   think   that   the   interactive   nature   of   the   training   was   also   really   helpful   in   developing skills, as opposed to more theoretical learning”

Course Directors and Trainers

Dr Karen Shannon is an ACAT accredited practitioner, supervisor and trainer and Clinical Psychologist. She is co-Founder and co-Director of ‘working with complex clients in mental health and forensic’ national ACAT accredited skills course. She has provided in-house 2 day introduction to CAT principles, CAT skills training and supervision for staff in a number of psychiatric/ forensic institutions and in the voluntary sector throughout UK and Ireland. Karen is CPD Lead for Catalyse. She has taught CAT CPD courses for a number of years; she is an invited trainer and external examiner on the two-year Catalyse CAT Practitioner Training (PG Dipl) course and D.Clin Psychology courses in the North West.

Karen has previously worked in Probation Service and forensic services in the National Health Service (NHS) and has many years experience and a longstanding commitment to working with marginalised, and ‘hard to help’ clients with mental health problems, personality disturbance, offending behaviours and also those at risk of harm. She is committed to using CAT to enhance staff skill and confidence in the development of relational approaches in the care and management of individuals with ‘complex’ presentations.

She has broad experience of the application of CAT in a variety of forensic and adult mental health settings both as a therapy and as a framework for consultation, care planning and systemic risk management. She has published in the area of CAT; in risk assessment/management; women non-offending partners; male aggression/violence and bipolar disorder.

She is currently in independent practice based in Liverpool where she has launched a CAT informed Community Interest Company – ‘Empowering to Protect’ providing CAT therapy and protective skills to improve individuals ability to protect children from harm. She also provides CAT therapy, Personal Reformulations in CAT therapy for mental health professionals and face to face/telephone CAT informed/CAT supervision to individuals working in psychiatric, forensic, prison services and in the voluntary sector.

Dr Marisol Cavieres is a CAT practitioner, supervisor and trainer. She is one of the lead trainers for the Catalyse CAT Practitioner Course based in Manchester, and co-Director of the CAT skills certificate course ‘working with complex clients in adult mental health and forensic’, a national course run through Catalsye. Her professional background is clinical psychology and she works in the field of adult mental health. She has worked in a range of NHS services both in community and inpatient settings (acute mental health and high secure forensics) and currently works in private practice in Liverpool. Her clinical areas of interest are working with adults with complex mental health problems particularly involving personality difficulties, and also using briefer CAT with a coaching focus to assist people with personal development goals and to enhance personal growth in the absence of a specified problem.

She has provided CAT teaching and training in the UK, Ireland, Australia and throughout New Zealand. Areas of interest in CAT training are to mental health professionals offering therapy with clients, and training multidisciplinary staff teams within acute mental health inpatient settings, with a focus on using the here-and-now reformulatory tools of CAT mapping to assist with assessment, formulation and the development of collaborative relationally based management and care plans.

Dr Dawn Bennett is Consultant Clinical Psychologist and Professional Lead in Lancashire Care NHS Foundation Trust (part-time) and ACAT accredited CAT practitioner, trainer and supervisor. She was Course Director with ACAT North running the two year CAT Practitioner Training (PG Dipl) from 1999-2006 and is currently Chair of this group, which runs various training initiatives. She has been External Examiner for CAT courses and taught on other UK courses. She has run CAT skills courses for generic mental health workers within her NHS role and CPD workshops on using CAT as a consultancy tool. She is the ACAT liaison worker for the ACAT link with Sheffield Hallam University, the validating body for all ACAT practitioner courses. She has a PhD investigating therapist competence in CAT for borderline personality disorder and has published work on this and subsequent projects.

External examiner

The moderator/examiner(s) will ensure that the training course meets the standards and requirements set by ACAT for Skills Level training.


Full accredited training certificate in CAT skills in working with Complex Clients in Health, Mental Health or Forensic Settings £1,695.00 (5 training days, 35 hours supervision, course work marking, ½ day personal development session and accreditation with ACAT)

Closing date

27th February 2015


Available from Dr Karen Shannon or Tel 0151 244 5426 or Dr Marisol Cavieres on ~ Tel 07754117729

Application Forms

Download from link below.

Please submit to Dr Karen Shannon on and Dr Marisol Cavieres on


Petition to NHS England - The Case for Funding Training in the NHS 2021 Alert!
ACAT's online payment system has been updated - click for more information

Details and Booking Information

6th May 2015 to 23rd October 2015

Our Next CAT Skills Training Courses

There are no CAT Skills Training courses listings at present.


This site has recently been updated to be Mobile Friendly. We are working through the pages to check everything is working properly. If you spot a problem please email and we'll look into it. Thank you.