So, if you are interested in becoming a CAT Practitioner, what do you need in terms of knowledge, experience and ability?
The criteria for application for a practitioner training in CAT, as outlined in the course information, are based on three areas of competency, all of which are necessary:
These competencies are necessary because practitioner training is a post-graduate level training. In addition, the clinical supervised practice associated with most courses take place within the NHS and so NHS requirements for clinical governance (ensuring quality of treatment delivery and patient safety) need to be met.
You would normally be required to have a core mental health professional training and to have a minimum of two years post-qualification clinical experience in a mental health setting. Core mental health trainings include medicine, counselling and clinical psychology, social work, mental health nursing and occupational therapy.
You would normally be required to have completed a basic counselling or psychotherapy training course which has included elements of both theoretical input and clinical experience in which you would have treated patients in a formal therapy / counselling structure under regular expert clinical supervision. Such a training course will usually have been of at least one year's duration.
You would normally be required to have completed previous courses of a similar academic level as a post-graduate diploma or above, which have included having prepared and written essays or similar academic texts.
The above criteria are set in order to ensure that the trainees who are accepted onto the course start at a sufficient level of knowledge, expertise and ability to be able to deliver clinical work in an NHS mental health setting. A CV and other supporting information is used to initially assess the above criteria and form the basis for offering an interview. The interview provides a setting in which these criteria can be assessed more fully, and as a composite whole.
While some courses will interpret the formal criteria in a strict way, other courses may have flexibility in assessing and interpreting the criteria. Many Practitioner training courses are sited within NHS Trusts which have policies and rules that bind the course within certain limits, for example some NHS Trusts do not recognise counselling or psychotherapy qualifications as a core profession and so will not grant honorary clinical contracts to people having such a qualification alone even if it has been a substantial 2 or 4 year training. Course Directors have to stay within the bounds of their local settings, which may differ from each other in subtle but important ways around the country. However, most Course Directors are both open to and able to apply some flexibility at their own discretion. Candidates who do not strictly meet the entry criteria may therefore wish to contact the Course Director and discuss their own situation.
If people wish to enquire, it will depend on their experience, aptitude, aims, role and support to train as to whether they are offered an interview or able to be offered a place on the course. As CAT Practitioner training focuses almost solely on CAT and assumes that applicants have generic knowledge and skills in therapeutic practice, the course would need to ensure that an applicant has sufficient generic skills or could develop sufficiently over the two years. An application will also depend on whether a person has a job role or placement through which they can see clients for CAT for their eight training cases, and if this arrangement is supported by their employer. If this is not possible in their job role they may be able to secure an honorary contract to see clients for CAT in their own workplace or that of a supervisor. The arrangement for seeing clients for CAT may be a barrier to training as an applicant will need to be in a job role or position that allows them to see eight clients for CAT therapy for 8, 16 and 24 sessions over two years.
Some examples are given below, although this is obviously not an exhaustive list:
Revised February 2019; June 2019
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