CAT CPD in the North of England: Some Reflections on Organising Events

Lucas, S., 2003. CAT CPD in the North of England: Some Reflections on Organising Events. Reformulation, Spring, pp.9-10.


In summer 2001 a small group of us living in the north of England - Rachel Pollard, Mark Dyer and myself, Sarah Lucas - decided to organise a series of CAT-based CPD events. Our main motivation was to have geographically accessible CPD opportunities, which would also be occasions for networking with other CAT-trained therapists.

We began with joint discussion of our ideas about the format of events, topics and speakers and the practicalities of organising events. After initially thinking of running three events in the first year we amended this to two, in November and May, to take account of major holidays and the annual national ACAT Conference in March and then set about putting plans into action. At this point it was a matter of trying it out, seeing what the response would be and finding out what we had taken on. Since we are all employed in NHS adult mental health services in different areas of the Northwest we did the CPD work in our own time, keeping in touch by phone, email and occasional meetings.

On of the first tasks was to compile a database of CAT -trained therapists and trainees based in the north of England (-an intriguing concept … north of what? … where does 'north' start and other areas end?)Being pragmatic, we mailed out initially to those for whom Manchester would be reasonably accessible, though it has transpired later that people have travelled considerable distances to the events and the database has thus grown. Mailouts informed people of forthcoming events and invited their feedback on ideas for seminars or offers of presentations, and suggestions received from the mailout questionnaires were noted with regard to the planning of future events.

We wanted seminar-style CPD events, which would be informal and interactive, with speakers' presentations opening a forum for wider discussion. Having identified a topic area for the first event the next job was to secure a speaker and book a venue. We set up a booking system to handle enquiries, deal with fees and circulate travel details. From the start the intention was to keep the cost of attendance as reasonable as possible and to use any surplus to subsidise further events and CPD activities. ACATnorth allowed the CPD Network to bank via its account and offered to underwrite the first event in case of a shortfall in income.

Eighteen months on we can look back on three successful events and put what we have learned into planning two more in 2003. The first seminar focused on the use of CAT with eating disorders (presented by Susan Mitzman, Head of the Eating Disorder Service in Mersey Care NHS Trust), the second was introduced by Gill Aitken, Lead Consultant Clinical Psychologist from the Women's Service at Ashworth Hospital and centred on CAT perspectives in complex cases and forensic issues in work with women, whilst the third was a full-day event on 'Extending CAT Practice: further tools and applications' and featuring presentations by Tim Sheard and Annie Nehmad. At each seminar discussion was animated and stimulating and the sense of a communicating network was developing. People came from Wales, Scotland and Ireland as well as various parts of England, which seemed to indicate that such opportunities for dialogue and further learning are welcome.

This year's seminars are both all-day events, the rationale being that this makes them more substantial and more worthwhile for people travelling form outside the immediate area. In May we look forward to welcoming Claire Tanner and Teresa Hagan as key speakers in a day looking at CAT thinking in work with issues of sexual abuse, and in October we will be pleased to be joined by Mikael Leiman as the speaker in a day on dialogic aspects of CAT practice (for information on these, see elsewhere in this journal). We have a number of areas to consider for further events, including some kind of peer discussion forum for research interests.

It has to be said that there is an amount of work involved in planning and running such days, alongside the advantages. Collaborating as a small group is invaluable and makes the organisation less daunting. Recently we have had the benefit of being able to link with ACATnorth's new administrator to devolve some jobs and streamline others, for which we are grateful. Communication with Jonathan Lopez-Real, Miranda Buckley and the 'Reformulation" editors has enabled publicity to be widely circulated via this journal, ACAT Online and as fliers. It was in the course of a phonecall to Serena Nuttall about news for this issue that she suggested writing this piece, perhaps to encourage organisation of other CAT CPD events around the country and to find ways of making these known so that more of us can have access to each others' meetings.

We hope to keep going and to be open to ideas for future
occasions.

Sarah Lucas

ACATnorth CPD Network

Full Reference

Lucas, S., 2003. CAT CPD in the North of England: Some Reflections on Organising Events. Reformulation, Spring, pp.9-10.

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