Update on the Melbourne Project

Burns-Lundgren, E., 2003. Update on the Melbourne Project. Reformulation, Spring, p.8.


Update on the Melbourne Project

This is an update from Melbourne, where a very successful week’s introductory and top-up CAT teaching was staged in the middle of February.

After a valiant struggle against the elements – all of an inch of snow predictably bringing the UK, including Heathrow airport, to a standstill – and therefore a total journey time of just over 40 hours!!, Ian Kerr, Jackie Withers and I arrived in Melbourne to provide a week’s training which was very well received. In spite of jet-lag and travel exhaustion, a remarkably coherent presentation of the model was apparently offered (probably more due to the inherent strength of the model, than to the particular mental alertness of the trainers at the time!). After Ian’s luggage finally arrived four days later, 10 copies of ‘The book’ were also sold, and he could be seen happily stuffing dollar-notes into his pockets.

The first day’s Introduction to CAT attracted over 70 applicants, with 40 people turned away due to over-subscription. 48 of the attenders stayed on for the second introductory day, which offered a greater depth of intellectual and experiential understanding of the model and its potential applications. These two days had mainly attracted local interest, but were also attended by professionals from Sydney, Brisbane and the region west of Melbourne. They represented every clinical discipline and included senior managers, service co-ordinators, team leaders and consultants.

The remaining three days were exclusively for staff of the local 'Orygen' Youth Health service, which is aimed at the needs of 15-25 year olds. Half the time was spent providing more in-depth training at 'Skills Certificate'-level to 17 staff from three local teams. These include an eating disorder service, five members of the EPPIC team, which has an internationally high profile working with early psychosis and an assertive outreach team, working with chaotic and treatment-resistant youngsters. At the end of the week the eating disorder service has decided to adopt CAT as their team approach. The EPPIC team members have also opted for CAT training as the basis for a new project for the management of young people with co-occurring first episode psychosis and features of Borderline PD. The outreach team opted to encourage individual team members to pursue the training, rather than to go 'all-out' CAT.

And importantly, the remaining half time was spent making a final contribution to the Practitioner Training of the existing four staff on the BPD/CAT research project; Andrew Chanen, Louise McCutcheon, Helen Nistico and Dominic Germano. They are now completing the final stages of the project, on which Tony Ryle, Dawn Bennett, Jackie Withers and I have been providing CAT supervision. They are likely to achieve their Practitioner status within the next few months, and we now have a draft time table for them to embark on their supervisor training, which will enable them to take over supervisor and training commitments to meet the enthusiastic local demand. A more hard-working and dedicated team is difficult to imagine, and we are lucky indeed to have these four as our CAT ambassadors in Australia! At the end of the week, the team is leaning hard on Jackie to make use of her Oz visa to come and do CAT work in Melbourne, but she’s still playing very hard to get. Is this a pay negotiating tactic, I ask myself?

Looking ahead, the Melbourne team is keen to encourage further training exchanges and visits, and two of them are indeed planning to attend the CAT conference in Finland this June. Andrew has submitted an abstract on their project to the American Psychiatric Association annual conference and will be submitting another to the ISSPD (International Society for the Study of PDs) conference in Florence in October, and the ‘International Society for Psychotherapy in Schizophrenia’ is holding a conference in Melbourne in September. During my second week in Australia, I was also invited by a friend and colleague to give a presentation on CAT to psychiatric staff at the Prince of Wales Hospital in Sydney (about 20 attended and no-one left before the end – a good outcome according to Frank!), so potential further openings for CAT down under?

Eva Burns-Lundgren
(On behalf of the ‘Melbourne Mob’.)

Full Reference

Burns-Lundgren, E., 2003. Update on the Melbourne Project. Reformulation, Spring, p.8.

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