CAT Foundation Training

The CAT Foundation course, accessible to professions with prior training in psychological therapies, aims to equip trainees with the CAT skills and competencies for working primarily within one to one therapy roles, usually in primary care or IAPT services, with clients who may have personality disorder traits, or present with problems in relationships alongside other symptoms and difficulties.  The syllabus aims to give an introduction to the CAT competencies for working with individuals with personality disorder traits.  The course does not train applicants to be accredited CAT therapists / practitioners or equip them to work using CAT with the most complex and personality disordered clients who would present in secondary care. 

The course is one year in duration and equivalent to the first year of a CAT Practitioner Training in academic and clinical content and written work requirements.  The therapy component is a brief personal reformulation experience. 

The CAT Foundation course was designed following an invitation to develop a CAT training for IAPT workers. The Foundation course is also offered by some DClinPsychol training courses in fulfilment of the British Psychological Society (BPS) requirements for clinical psychologists to train in two models.  For these trainings it is the DClin.Psychol. CAT Accreditation Pathway at Foundation Level.  As the CAT foundation course is delivered across the three years of professional training, DClinPsychol trainees register with ACAT as a trainee member for 3 years but this is held at the cost of 1 year to be equivalent with other foundation courses.  

"I particularly enjoyed exploring some interesting and new concepts in understanding an integrative model of psychotherapy and these were completely new to me; however the style and manner in which they were taught made it fun and interesting. The course offered plenty of very useful resources for learning and I felt there was a high level of support from the course facilitators and other trainees. The training has offered me the confidence to apply the model in my clinical work and helped me to build on my skills and knowledge in working with clients."

The Foundation course is modular and as such offers foundation year credit towards the further training, clinical experience and assessments necessary for accreditation as an ACAT accredited CAT Therapist/Practitioner.  Foundation status conveys preparation for further study and a further year is needed to practice CAT as an accredited CAT therapist. Those successfully completing the Foundation course may apply to any practitioner training course nationally to join year two.

Entry Criteria

Applicants will be expected to demonstrate that they are academically capable of undertaking post-graduate study, having either a first degree or equivalent qualification, or other evidence of academic capability.  They will already have (and will be asked to demonstrate) relevant experience of conducting psychological therapies with people in a mental health setting within therapeutic boundaries.  The course is designed to be accessible to High Intensity IAPT therapists but may also be suitable for others with a core mental health profession who can demonstrate a level of prior experience in delivering psychological therapies.

Applicants must have the personal qualities that make them suitable for the profession of psychotherapy and have sufficient emotional competence to deal with the psychological aspects of the work.  We will be looking for a lively and enquiring mind, an ability to listen and respond with compassion and respect and without prejudice, evidence of self-reflection, self-awareness and a commitment to self-development, evidence of personal stability and appropriate boundaries, and a capacity for constructive working relationships.  Applicants will be expected to demonstrate awareness and sensitivity to issues of race, gender, sexual orientation, class and disability, ethnic and cultural difference.

Course Components

Foundation training is a minimum of ten training days;  8 hrs of seminar/peer reading groups;  four supervised CAT clinical cases;  two clinical appraisals, an essay on reformulation and a case study;  a CAT Personal Reformulation experience. 

Training Methods and Clinical Practice

Theory and Skills: These would usually consist of a combination of preliminary reading, lecture format presentations, group discussions, experiential learning, skills practice and case discussions as appropriate. There would be an emphasis on applying concepts to current practice / training cases. The format would be ten days and additional seminar/reading groups or eleven days with discussion of a key paper or chapter within each day.

The syllabus and teaching structure is based on the first year of a CAT therapist/practitioner course focusing on core concepts adjusted to the setting, for example an IAPT Foundation Course incorporates a focus on personality disorder.

Clinical Practice: Trainees are in weekly supervision with an accredited CAT supervisor. At Foundation level, trainees will be required to complete a minimum of four supervised CAT cases.  Of the four cases required, two of these should be of 16 or more sessions. Minimum clinical hours for foundation level training (excluding follow-ups) must total at least 48 hours.  Insofar as it is possible, trainees will be encouraged to accumulate a range of clinical experience in terms of pathology, gender, age, ethnicity, socio-economic group. A complete CAT case is one in which all three CAT tools have been developed and shared (prose reformulation, SDR and goodbye letter), other than 8 session CATs when a SDR and 'hybrid' (reformulation/goodbye) letter shared at the end of therapy is a recommended alternative.

Supervised practice runs in tandem with the training days to allow application to practice.  CAT training supervision aims to be group supervision where possible to allow learning opportunities across cases and therapist style.  Groups would ideally be three trainees, carrying two cases at a time allowing 30 minute discussion time per trainee per week.

Click here for more information on supervised clinical practice as part of CAT training.

Assessment: Successful completion of the course will comprise assessment and regular attendance (minimum 85%) at all aspects of the course, completion of supervised clinical work, satisfactory completion of written work and satisfactory reports from trainers, supervisors and tutors. 

Written Work: Trainees will be required to demonstrate their understanding and practice of CAT with two pieces of written work (an essay and a case study), showing evidence of self-reflection and clinical application.

Reports of the trainees’ clinical practice and use of supervision would usually be completed with each trainee at six monthly intervals by the supervisor. Evaluation of this training within clinical psychology training may be integrated within overall supervisor appraisal.

Personal Development: CAT therapy (16 sessions) is not a requirement of the CAT Foundation course, although this is mandatory for further CAT training.  We would encourage any trainee, who wishes to, to arrange for personal therapy at this stage of their training. However, the Foundation course involves a brief ‘personal reformulation’ experience.  The aim of this is to offer participants the opportunity to explore with a CAT therapist, what it is ‘they bring to work’.  The starting point for this experience is often through reflecting upon the use of self in relation to a clinical case or scenario.  It gives participants not only some flavour of what it is like ‘at the receiving end’, but also shows that work in this area of mental health inevitably involves personal reactions and requires an openness to discussion of these issues in supervision.  It is stressed that this is not therapy but simply an opportunity to explore these issues in confidence. The concept of the personal reformulation experience is now relatively well developed.

Please click here for further information on personal development within CAT training.

Further details about Personal Reformulation for Personal and Professional Development and how to arrange this will be provided by the course at the start of training. Once registered as an ACAT member on a course you can click into ACAT 'Training Resources' (under 'Training' on a member's home page when logged-in) to access the downloadable document 'Personal Reformulation: Skills and Foundation', or please click here to be transferred to your home page where you can access ACAT Training Resources

The Award

On successful completion of the Foundation course, the candidate will be awarded the One Year Foundation Level Certificate in Cognitive Analytic Therapy (CAT).

A Foundation course is a substantial preparation for further study, an opportunity to see whether this is something you are suited to and want to invest further training in. Trainees have a maximum study period of 3 years to complete the Foundation course but must continue as an ACAT trainee member if training is extended. 

CAT Foundation Course graduates can go on to apply to do the second year of an ACAT CAT Practitioner course and have a total ACAT trainee registration period of up to 6 years if they wish to train and become accredited as a CAT Practitioner.  

What can I do with the Foundation training? 

More details are provided on application and during training but in summary:

If graduates want to remain trainee members of ACAT, then they would be required to be in regular supervision in line with ACAT CPD policy for a minimum of 1.5 hrs per month. They can then practice CAT within their core profession/professional role as trainee members of ACAT under supervision with an accredited CAT therapist/supervisor.

If graduates of CAT Foundation courses apply to do a CAT second year there is a total six year registration period from the start of the Foundation Course to completion of the second year of CAT Practitioner training. Trainees can apply to any practitioner course nationally to join the second year.  

If they choose not to do further training the CAT membership status reverts to ‘friend’ of ACAT after a total of 6 years. If graduates of foundation courses do not wish to remain trainee members of ACAT after the one year course they can also be a ‘friend’ of ACAT and can use CAT concepts within their professional role. 

Applying for Foundation Training

CAT Foundation Courses, other than those running in collaboration with clinical psychology doctorate training, are not run on a regular basis.  When offered, details will be listed at the end of this webpage.  They are usually commissioned by NHS Trusts, specifically for therapists in IAPT services, and by Doctorate courses in Clinical Psychology. Two courses are currently running and trainees on these courses can access the ACAT accredited Foundation training:  

  • CAT Foundation in partnership with Exeter Doctorate course in Clinical Psychology 
  • CAT Foundation in partnership with Lancaster Doctorate course in Clinical Psychology 

Bespoke Foundation Training

At the time of writing, there are no current Foundation courses open to individual application.  If you want to find out more about commissioning a bespoke CAT Foundation course please contact Alison Marfell, ACAT Administrator, in the first instance

What has been written about CAT?  Click here.

Updated November 2020

1 Year CAT Foundation Course Courses

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