Letter from the Chair of ACAT

Hepple, J., 2012. Letter from the Chair of ACAT. Reformulation, Summer, p.6.


Talking about CAT

It is now a year since ACAT became a charity and one of our key objectives (to increase knowledge and awareness of CAT) is going to receive an injection of positive energy at the Manchester conference in July.  We will be launching the “Talking About CAT” campaign and I hope that every member, friend and trainee member will get behind this initiative and start a dialogue with people local to them about CAT and what it has to offer.

We have produced a series of factsheets on CAT, including information designed for clients and prospective clients, young people and professionals seeking to find out more about CAT as a psychological therapy.  Other factsheets cover research into CAT, training in CAT and ‘What is CAT understanding?’  They have been written by a range of people from the CAT village in a dialogic way, that ensures they are multi-voiced and I hope they get to the essence of what it is about CAT that continues to enthuse therapists and clients and allows it to grow, even in difficult times for health and social care services.  The factsheets will be available in a folder that matches the design of the new website.  All the factsheets will also be available as PDF’s on the website for you to forward, print out and distribute.

The most recently written factsheet concerns the nature of ‘CAT understanding’.  If we are not careful, CAT can be perceived as another ‘three letter therapy’; a hybrid that offers nothing that the ‘C’ and the ‘A’ can’t already offer. It is probably true to say that if we were trying to find a name for CAT today we might try to liberate it from its theoretical roots and include a large spoonful of ‘D’ for dialogic and of ‘R’ for relational!

When people in the CAT world talk about CAT, however, it is as an exciting integration project that has moved a long way in its thirty year history.  It really is a different sort of therapy from others in this crowded market.  It is highly collaborative and deeply relational, and the CAT framework, rather than reducing psychotherapy to a series of techniques applied to patients who populate distinct diagnostic categories, allows each therapy to be a unique exploration of the encounter between one client and one therapist in a pragmatically realistic format that can be afforded in public health settings.

CAT understanding has been applied to the way couples, families, teams and systems work and sometimes perpetuate unhappiness and distress.  CAT has a lot to offer when considering the nature of ‘social exclusion’ and some of the underlying problems in society that lead to mental health problems.  It is in this area that ACAT, as a charity, may look to involve itself in some exciting collaborations with other charities and organisations that seek to tackle social exclusion, stigmatisation and alienation.  The factsheet on CAT understanding makes an attempt to put CAT within this wider framework, and we hope it will be a useful addition to the Talking About CAT campaign.

ACAT will be launching the campaign at a national level including press releases and new initiatives to engage influential national bodies such as NICE (National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence), IAPT (Improving Access to Psychological Therapies), CHRE (Council for Healthcare Regulatory Excellence) and private health insurers.  The success of the campaign, however, will be down to individual members involving influential people in their local areas.  This will need to include commissioners, particularly local GPs, as well as user and carer groups, groupings of mental health and social care professionals, and partner organisations such as probation, prison and social services.

I hope we can pass on the enthusiasm and commitment we have for CAT to ensure it continues to engage and involve people in the way CAT develops in the future.

Full Reference

Hepple, J., 2012. Letter from the Chair of ACAT. Reformulation, Summer, p.6.

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