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. 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. 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 the university collaboration at Practitioner level and our courses now lead to ACAT professional accreditation; Centre for Workforce Intelligence (CfWI) protected title Psychological Therapist and our two year trainings (CAT Practitioner) are recognised as the first two years of a UKCP registered training.

"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."

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 and application process can be found within each course link. Click here for courses currently recruiting.


What has been written about CAT?  Click here.

Revised February 2019

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