Re-introducing CAT to Student Counselling

Burns-Lundgren, E., 2000. Re-introducing CAT to Student Counselling. Reformulation, ACAT News Spring, p.x.


Following calls from members of HUCS (Heads of University Counselling Services) for training in CBT for student counsellors, here was an obvious opportunity to promote and raise the profile of CAT within academic settings, and to make connections with the early origins of the model. We attracted the interest of 47 student counsellors who attended from all corners of the UK, from Scotland and Northern Ireland in the north, to Devon and Kent in the south.

We secured the co-operation of Tony Ryle, who in the introductory session provided his usual clear and engaging account of the development of the model and the method. He traced it in an autobiographical manner, used case illustrations to demonstrate his points, and provided through his manner of presentation a live example of CAT’s non-elitist, open-minded and therefore growth-promoting approach. At this point the rest of us felt we might as well pack away our prepared contributions and go home!

However, we soon re-connected with the enthusiasm engendered between us, as we had prepared for the day in a truly ‘CAT’ collaborative way, hammering it out via telephone, fax and e-mail. Based on the outlines of a ‘real’ student case, we had created a fictional one, for which we jointly wrote a script. Steve had enlisted the services of a drama student, who convincingly recorded for us on video some key moments in therapy; 1. First sessions building the working alliance while beginning to trace patterns and procedures and an outline Reformulation. 2. A couple of crucial middle session, with attempts to elicit Reciprocal Roles, which could be traced on the SDR. 3. Final sessions, which illustrated the CAT approach to time, ending, the Good-bye letter and follow-up.

Using the video, overheads, sample letters and an SDR, Steve, I and Sarah in turn addressed each stage of CAT, inviting the audience to contribute and question as we proceeded, with a final question and answer session at the end. We highlighted the difference between ‘doing’ CAT and ‘using’ CAT, in the pressurised and often very short-term work of student counsellors.

This ‘multi-centre’ and ‘multi-media’ workshop seemed to elicit in true Reciprocal Role–fashion the same enthusiasm it continually engenders in us, with much positive feed-back and expressed interest in further training. We also created a basic training pack - which we hope to fine-tune and re-use (and some profit for ACAT!).

Eva Burns-Lundgren

Full Reference

Burns-Lundgren, E., 2000. Re-introducing CAT to Student Counselling. Reformulation, ACAT News Spring, p.x.

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