CAT Practitioner Training 

Practitioner training enables core mental health professionals with competence in their own field to enhance their understanding and skills in a specific psychological therapy by learning the theory and methods of CAT as an individual therapy applied to adult mental health. These courses usually last two years and are assessed, leading to accreditation as a CAT Practitioner and eligibility for full membership of ACAT. The courses are held at a number of venues across the country. These courses provide qualification through accreditation with ACAT as a practitioner in CAT in one’s core profession and such courses, having been run for the past twenty years, have a track record of providing mental health professionals with basic competence in the full use of CAT.

CAT Practitioner training counts as the first two years in the four year process of qualification as a CAT psychotherapist accredited under current regulations by the UKCP. All of the Practitioner Courses (2008 - 2013) and a number prior to that time have been linked with and validated by universities leading to a dual award with ACAT and the University (a Post Graduate Diploma and credits towards MSc qualifications). Since 2013, following a training strategy review, ACAT opted not to continue with university collaboration at Practitioner level, our courses remain at PG Diploma level and lead to:

  • ACAT professional accreditation
  • Centre for Workforce Intelligence (CfWI) protected title Psychological Therapist
  • The first two years of a UKCP registered training
  • Following confirmation that it is delivered at Post Graduate level by the British Psychological Society (BPS), CAT Practitioner training is also accepted as a suitable course to enrol on the BPS independent route to training for the Qualification in Counselling Psychology (QCoP). This is an integrated, doctoral level qualification which leads to eligibility for Chartered membership of the Society and full membership of the Division of Counselling Psychology. This is open to trainees and accredited CAT Practitioners may also be eligible to apply for accreditation of existing competence. For more information see Qualification in Counselling Psychology | BPS

"I have really enjoyed the course and learned a great deal.  I have especially enjoyed the teaching from people who really thoroughly know the model and are clearly motivated to help us learn in a supportive environment.  I would highly recommend this course."

Current CAT Practitioner Training Courses

CAT Practitioner courses are offered in a number of course centres across the UK.  Some are independent and others are hosted within NHS Trusts.  Please scroll to the end of this webpage for a list of practitioner courses currently open for application, and additional course centre information. 

Requirements for Training

All applicants will be expected to demonstrate that they are academically capable of undertaking postgraduate 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 working with people in a mental health setting, and either a qualification in an NHS recognised core profession (e.g. nursing, clinical psychology, medicine, occupational therapy, social work), or evidence and qualification which demonstrates an equivalent level of competence. It is desirable for applicants to have attended an introduction to CAT workshop or equivalent. 

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.  It is desirable but not required for applicants to have had a personal therapy experience.

Additional criteria may include

  • Two years post qualification experience
  • Experience and/or training in psychotherapy at an introductory level
  • Access to clients
  • Work experience in a mental health setting: where the candidate has no such experience, they may be required to undertake a suitable placement.

Click here to read more about our entry criteria for CAT Practitioner trainings and information for candidates who may not strictly meet the entry criteria but are interested to explore CAT training.

"An excellent training course which links theory to practice and increases confidence in using the CAT model across presentations. I now have faith in the model, which means hard to work with clients are not so hard to work with".

Course Components  

This is a two-year training comprising a combination of workshops or training days, seminars, peer group work, personal learning, supervision, clinical practice and personal therapy. Experiential work focuses on personal exploration and the development of CAT skills and their clinical application. Trainees must complete a minimum of 8 supervised cases and pass all written work required by the course.

Training Methods and Clinical Practice

The training days cover eight modules.  Each day reflects ‘CAT Knowledge in Use’ and consists of a combination of preliminary reading, presentations, small and large group work, skills exercises and case discussions as appropriate and covers

  • theoretical input relating to CAT principles and concepts
  • Reflection on and practice with CAT tools, activities and skills.

The training days are spread throughout each of the two years.  Early in the course you will be introduced to the main features of the CAT model and these will be built on throughout the two years.  The content of the teaching programme in year one follows the structure of a CAT therapy, with the aim that the teaching topics coincide with the timing of these phases in the first two training cases. Year 2 days deepen knowledge and skills and cover a range of applications of CAT specifically work with more complex cases.

"Giving me the confidence and containment of a model to work with; a sense of community with others working in similar ways; really developing specific skills and knowledge for doing my work in a new way."

Clinical Practice

Trainees are in weekly supervision with an accredited CAT supervisor, usually carry two CAT training cases at a time and must complete a minimum of eight supervised cases. Supervision normally takes place face to face in groups and each case is discussed weekly. It is advisable for trainees who work in specialist settings (e.g. forensic, eating disorders) to gain experience of doing CAT in the area of adult mental health, by undertaking at least two cases in this area. Trainees should aim to accumulate a broad clinical experience in terms of pathology, gender, age, ethnicity and socio-economic group.

Trainees develop the skill to practice 16 session CAT but should also gain experience in variations of the time limit to 8 session and 24 sessions.  Of the eight cases required six of these should be of 16 or more sessions.  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.

Minimum clinical hours for Practitioner Training (excluding follow-ups) must total 128. For many trainees, the supervised clinical practice requirements to see eight clients for CAT can take more than two years.  This reflects a variety of factors including access to suitable training cases, drop-outs and work place issues.  Trainees are encouraged to plan as effectively as possible to increase the likelihood that they can complete close to two years, by for example ensuring that any necessary placements/honorary contracts are set up ahead of the course start, identifying suitable training cases to start the clinical practice immediately upon starting the course and identifying clients consistently throughout the two years.  In some circumstances, trainees may need to consider the cost of additional supervision if there is a need to extend this.

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

Assessment

Trainees are expected to attend a minimum of 85% of each element of the taught course.  Clinical appraisals take place every six months, four over the two year taught course. Written Work includes:

  • Two case studies, one by the end of each year. Some courses require, others encourage, the inclusion of a tape or transcript with accompanying analysis and reflection.
  • Two essays, one midway through each year. The Year 1 essay is on the process of reformulation, and in year 2 the essay addresses the application of CAT concepts in your clinical work. 

"The links between theory and practice that ran throughout all aspects of the course.

The availability of resources on the ACAT website. 

The structure of the course - the content of teaching and seminars was well tailored to our learning/ZPDs! 

The approachable nature of all the course facilitators."

Personal Development

Trainees are required to have an experience of personal therapy during their practitioner training. This is a standard 16 session CAT conducted by an accredited CAT therapist. Trainees must discuss exceptional needs and any exemptions to these arrangements with their course director before embarking on training. It is ultimately a trainee's responsibility to set up arrangements for their personal therapy. A list of therapists practicing privately can be found on the ACAT website.  Some courses provide additional listings of therapists who are willing to offer training therapy, but are not otherwise listed on the website as private therapists. The confidentiality of the trainee’s personal relationship with his/her personal therapist will be respected other than the personal CAT therapist completing a brief form acknowledging the completion of the personal CAT training therapy.

Click here for further information on personal development and personal therapy as part of CAT training.

The Award:  Accreditation and Qualification

Following satisfactory completion of the course and accreditation at the ACAT Exam Board, trainees will be awarded the Cognitive Analytic Therapy (CAT) Therapist / Practitioner Diploma and will be accredited as Cognitive Analytic Therapy (CAT) Diploma Therapist / Practitioner.

ACAT has been recognised by the Centre for Workforce Intelligence (CfWI) allowing CAT Therapists/Practitioners to use the protected title Psychological Therapist

CAT Therapists/Practitioners are entitled to use the alternative title “CAT Therapist”, in line with the CfWI (Centre for Workforce Intelligence) approval of CAT Therapists/Practitioners as meeting the criteria for Psychological Therapists working in the NHS.

In addition the practitioner training counts as the first two years in the four year process of qualification as a CAT psychotherapist accredited under current regulations by the UKCP.

For Further Information

Further information about forthcoming practitioner training, and the application process for each, may be found by clicking on the individual, advertised course links at the end of this webpage.

For all forthcoming training:   Click here for courses currently recruiting.

Course Centres  

Brighton CAT Practitioner Training is a 2 year course for 12- 20 trainees.   Places are allocated competitively following an application and interview process.   The next planned intake is September 2021.  There are 10 training days per year, along with regular seminar groups and weekly supervision.  Where face to face training is not possible, the course is able to offer all aspects of the training online.  To register your interest in the next course, or if you have any further questions, please contact Niki Larsen-Johnson, Course Administrator, ppt@sussexpartnership.nhs.uk

Catalyse (Manchester) offer a CAT Practitioner course annually for 20-25 applicants.  Teaching is in Manchester with a two day residential in Sheffield at the end of each year.  The course usually runs from October each year but as a result of delays due to the pandemic our next intake will be October 2022. Early applications are welcome. For more information please email info@catalyse.uk.com or visit http://www.catalyse.uk.com

CAT East - information to be added shortly.

Cornwall  The second Cornwall CAT Practitioner course is due to begin March 2021 for about 15 trainees.  At this time it is going to be for Cornwall Partnership NHS Trust staff only.  An update will be issued if this changes.  

Dorset - informationto be added shortly.

Newcastle CAT Practitioner Training is hosted by Cumbria, Northumberland, Tyne & Wear NHS Foundation Trust.  A course is due to commence in March 2021 but applications are now closed as the course is fully subscribed.  The course runs bi-annually, but the timing of future courses is not currently confirmed due to Covid adjustments.  To register your interest in future courses, please email cspttraining@cntw.nhs.uk and you will be sent information about the next course when it is released.  

Scotland - there is no course planned for 2021. 

Somerset are offering a 2nd Year CAT Practitioner Course, for participants who have a Foundation Level accreditation (or are in a position to apply for Foundation accreditation). The training will be for 10-12 applicants and will start in September 2021. Teaching will be in Yeovil, South Somerset. We are now inviting applications.  Pease contact Liz Fawkes by Friday 23rd July 2021 to express your interest and arrange a pre-course interview Liz.Fawkes@SomersetFT.nhs.uk

South London CAT Practitioner Training runs biannually with an intake of up to 20 applicants.  The formal taught aspect of the course is located centrally in South London and is easily accessible  by public transport.  The course is run in a partnership between ACAT and South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust.  The beginning of the next intake has been paused until April 2021.  Further applications for this intake are currently closed.  However, if you are interested in further information or wish to place your name on a list to receive publicity for the next intake then please contact Niki Larsen-Johnson, Course Administrator, niki.larsen@acat.me.uk

South Wales CAT Training has a practitioner course with the most recent intake in 2019.  Enquiries re future intakes welcome - please contact Clare Fisher clare.fisher2@wales.nhs.uk


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Updated June 2021

CAT Therapist / Practitioner Training Courses

Brighton CAT Practitioner Training || 01-04-22

NOW OPEN FOR APPLICATIONS (14/9/21) This course is to start in April 2022 (finishing March 2024) and applications will be accepted in 2021. For further information please contact Course Administrator, Niki Larsen-Johnson on - ppt@sussexpartnership.n...


South Wales CAT Practitioner Training 2022-2024 || 02-09-22

South Wales CAT course is inviting expressions of interest for the next intake which is likely to be in September 2022. The course will open for applications in March 2022 as long as we have enough interest in places. Please see the attached course a...


Catalyse CAT Practitioner Training 2022-2024 || 06-10-22

The CAT Practitioner course is a two year training for core mental health professionals leading to accreditation and professional membership of the Association for Cognitive Analytic Therapy (ACAT) , for further information please click on flyer atta...


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