To read ACAT's 'Social Media guidance for use for ACAT members' please follow this link -

The following articles are reproduced from ACAT Newsletters in 2016 and 2017, plus tips on using Twitter issued for the Joint International  ACAT & ICATA Conference in September 2017.

Twitter: The Basics

Twitter for the 24th Annual ACAT Conference at Keele 5 - 7 July 2018

The guidelines below, written for the 2017 international joint conference, may also help you if you're interested in following or participating in 2018's annual conference using Twitter.

Just substitute the hashtag #ACATconf18 instead of #IntCAT17, and note that the character limit is now increased to 280 characters.


A Guide to Twitter for #IntCAT17

7th International CAT Conference: New Frontiers in CAT Understanding & Practice

Nottingham 20 - 23 September 2017

We hope that following and contributing to the conference on its Twitter hashtag, #IntCAT17, may bring another dimension to your conference experience, and may help to include others who are interested but unable to attend in person. This brief guide aims to provide some basic information and both practical and professional guidance to consider, before or during the conference.

A) How do I follow the conference on Twitter if I don't have a Twitter account?

You don't have to be a twitter user ("tweep") to follow the event online, but you can only respond and take part in Twitter conversations if you have a Twitter account.  You can keep an eye on the stream of tweets showing on the ACAT site - However this will only show you tweets and retweets by the ACAT account and may not include tweets by everyone interested in the event.  To follow tweets about the conference online:

1) If you're at the conference , firstly use the wifi code at the venue to connect your smartphone or tablet to the internet.

2) Either go to and enter #IntCAT17 into the search feature, or just search for the hashtag using your browser and click on "#IntCAT17 - Twitter Search".

3) Choose 'latest' and you will see notifications of tweets as they are made.  

4) To the left of the screen you can select various filters, including one giving you the option to see tweets in particular languages.

B) What's Twitter all about?

Twitter is a bit like a village noticeboard where anyone can pin short messages; or a series of noticeboards in a busy marketplace.  Twitter limits the length of your messages to 140 characters, including spaces.  You can add pictures, GIFs or videos to your tweets.  These messages are public and anyone can read them.  You can 'follow' the accounts of other people, and others can follow you.  You have complete control over who you follow but no control at all over who follows you.  This means you can't tell who sees the messages you pin to this metaphorical noticeboard.  You and others can share posts by 'retweeting' them. This is like bringing your friends and colleagues to the metaphorical noticeboard and pointing things out.

Even if you take a post down (delete it) a picture of it may have been taken and already passed on to lots of other people.  So only ever put on this noticeboard things you are entirely comfortable with being in the public domain.

If others are interested in what you've said, or want to acknowledge that they've heard it, they may "like" your tweet. Twitter may share posts that you've 'liked' with your followers, even if you don't retweet them. Others can respond by replying to your post (imagine notes being stapled onto your original on the village noticeboard) and conversations can begin this way.  Anyone can join in.

C) How do I create a Twitter account?

Twitter makes this very easy to do.  If you want to be on Twitter at the conference it may be worth setting this up before it takes place. This will give you time to think through your options and carry out the practicalities.  It will also provide a chance to observe, listen and learn how others use Twitter so you may feel more confident to do so when the event takes place.

Before you follow the "Sign Up" instructions on the Twitter site, consider a few things:

1) Do you want your account to be attached to your full name or something more anonymous?

2) What do you want as a Twitter name (handle) - starting with an @?  If it's already taken, the site will tell you this when you type it in and you'll need to choose another.

3) Check out advice on privacy settings as below.

4) How do you want to describe yourself in your profile? This can be up to 160 characters.

5) Personalise your account by adding an image or two.

D) How do I maintain my privacy on Twitter?

Being in the online world raises some risks in relation to boundaries.  This includes your own personal boundaries through what you choose to share.  If you're a psychotherapist, this will raise additional issues relating to the potential for complications and infringements of therapeutic boundaries.   There are some safeguards you can employ:

1) You can set up your account to be protected (it shows a little padlock next to your account) - eg see .  This means that others have to ask to follow you, and you only accept as followers those you are happy to accept.  Others can't retweet you if your account is protected, so tweets stay within your circle of followers unless someone decides to copy and paste, or take an image of your tweet and share that.

2) You can also set up your account to be anonymous, using an incognito Twitter handle. However if, when you're setting up your account, you link it to your usual email address, it may show your usual real name on your account even if you've chosen an incognito handle.  Some people set up a separate new email account just for the purposes of joining Twitter.  There are of course relational impacts of remaining anonymous in that your presence is less transparent. This may help you feel less exposed but may reduce trust other Twitter users have in you and the degree to which they may engage with you.

3) NB If you identify yourself as a medical doctor on Twitter then GMC guidance requires you to use your real name for your Twitter account - see  and discussion at

4) If you have location enabled on your device, then any images you take will contain meta-data providing your location.  This can be quite specific. If you want to avoid this, you can disable location on your device, or you can tweet only screenshots of images you take, which will remove metadata.  You can set also set up your Twitter account so that it does not allow location to be displayed.  This introduces a delay in your tweets appearing.

E) Who should I follow?

To follow others in the CAT community, a good place to start is @tarringtherapy/Claire Walsh's public list of "CAT People" via  You can see members and follow them via

Beware, however, of only following those of like minds; Twitter can easily become an echo-chamber unless you follow others with different points of view.  If you want to be added to Claire's list you can contact her to ask for this.  You can of course start your own list.  This can be either public or private.

F) What's the benefit?

The social media pages on the ACAT site - - and the Catalyse site  - - provide plenty of information on the potential benefits of being on Twitter.  In the context of the conference:

1) You can introduce yourself and establish links with others before you arrive.  Conversations can begin even before the event takes place.

2) You and others can live-tweet during plenaries and even some workshops, assuming that presenters and workshop participants are happy for their session to be tweeted about (it may be useful to ask about this at the start of a workshop).  Or you may choose to tweet reflections on learning later on, during breaks, in the evening or after the event.  In this way you can share your thoughts and learning in a public way.

3) Others who can't attend the event can participate virtually, by listening and responding to tweets, and posing questions.  Even if you're at the conference, you can hear about what's going on in other parts of it, or at sessions you can't attend.  You can pose questions and join in remotely too.

4) The more members of the CAT community who are connecting on Twitter, the more we can stay up to date and informed of CAT-related news, support each other, and collectively help build public awareness of CAT.

5) From an international perspective, Twitter gives us easy ways to connect and maintain relationships across geographical distance.

6) NB Twitter will even translate tweets from one language to another so can help us connect across language.

G) What will my professional body make of it if I go on Twitter?

If you enter the Twittersphere as a therapist or health care professional you need to be familiar with and adhere to your professional code of conduct and any social media policy they may have.  You should also refer to the policies of your employer.  ACAT is in the process of developing a social media policy for its own social media activity, and for members.  In the meantime, Catalyse have created a webpage with useful information on using social media, including links to the social media policies of a number of professional bodies in the UK.  You can visit this at

Some broad guidelines to bear in mind as a professional on Twitter include:

Act in the best interests of service users at all times.

Respect the confidentiality of service users; never tweet anything which is confidential or could be identifying or exposing of a service user in any way (including material which only they themselves would recognise) unless you have their full informed consent.

Don't tweet anything that is exposing of colleagues or services you work with, without consent.

Keep high standards of personal conduct, including observing basic manners and respect for different viewpoints.  Stay aware of power differentials (especially if engaging with people identifying themselves as service users or experts by experience). Be ready to explain or apologise if you've been misunderstood or caused offence.

Behave with honesty and integrity and make sure that your behaviour does not damage the public’s confidence in you, your profession, ACAT or ICATA.

Remember that clients or patients may choose to follow you on Twitter. It's not generally advisable to follow them back.  You may want to consider developing a digital policy for your practice which makes your digital boundaries clear and understandable, and can be discussed as part of the therapy contract (see an example by Dr Aaron Balick at )

H) What's a hashtag anyway?

A hashtag is a shorthand way of identifying or categorising a subject or conversation in tweets.  You can search for tweets containing a particular hashtag, and you can add one or two hashtags to your own tweets. It's best to keep a hashtag brief so that you can use more of your 140 characters for the rest of your tweet.  For an event or issue, it's good to aim for a unique hashtag, so the stream of tweets doesn't get mixed up with other unrelated ones.  While #CAT is brief and clear to those in the CAT community, unfortunately tweets hashtagged with this will be lost within a great many feline-affirming conversations and images! Try #CATtweetZPD for some reflections and tips from peers on becoming comfortable on Twitter as a CAT therapist (and feel free to add some of your own).

If you tweet about the conference, please make sure you include the hashtag #IntCAT17 in your tweet.  This should automatically appear in your tweet if you're following the #IntCAT17 hashtag.  Your tweet will be then be included in the thread of tweets which can be collated later.  We may use an application like Symplur or Storify to pull together tweets from the conference at a later stage.

I) It seems to be a different language: what do all these abbreviations mean?

The list below shows some commonly used (English language) tweet abbreviations.  Do let us know any more that would be helpful to add.






when you want to share someone else's tweet with your followers


modified tweet

when you've copied, pasted & modified a tweet made by another


hat tip

an acknowledgement, or expression of thanks, to another (eg for bringing your attention to a tweet or conversation)


a way to address a twitter user

eg @Assoc_CAT  NB putting a twitter handle at the start of a tweet means it will be visible only to followeres of both you and the other person



Use a full stop at the start of a tweet if you use one Twitter handle to begin your tweet, but want the tweet to be visible to all


Direct message

a private message - usually only possible if you and the other person follow each other


In real life

as opposed to online


In case you missed it



in my opinion



in my experience



for what it's worth



footnote or correction

eg when you want to correct a mis-spelling


to denote an action

eg *waves*, *smiles*, *leaves the room*


health care professional



Service user



expert by experience



person with ...

Can vary with context: eg PWLD - person with learning disability; PWD - person with dementia


person of ….

eg POC - person of colour


children & young people








Rhona Brown, CAT Practitioner, Tweeting for ACAT: @Assoc_CAT,


CAT on Twitter

Update April 2017 - Rhona Brown

Tweets by Assoc_CAT

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

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