Impressions of Finland

Curran, A., 2000. Impressions of Finland. Reformulation, ACAT News Summer, p.x.


In October of last year, I was invited to Finland to run two workshops on "The Use of CAT in Primary Care" This was my third trip to Finland and as I landed at Helsinki airport (voted best airport of the year - justifiably!) I felt very happy to be back in this place of northern mystery and warm, welcoming people.

The first workshop was in Outokumpu in the north east of Finland and was held in one of the refurbished buildings of a dis-used copper mine, nestled between rich birch trees ablaze with their autumnal beauty. Apparently, a recent wind had blown away the reddest of the leaves - the "ruska" as it’s called - but nonetheless I felt I was stepping into a Seurat painting of bright yellow and gold brush dabs. Here I met about twenty CAT students, most of whom worked in primary care type settings: psychiatric nurses, psychologist, psychiatrists, occupational therapists, etc. We had two very fulfilling days finding enough of a common language to explore different ways of working with CAT in primary care.

Some of the participants felt a bit unsure of the English and so we would stop from time to time to have "fine-tuning in Finnish" when they could discuss things amongst themselves in twos and threes. In the larger discussion some people felt more at ease contributing in Finnish which worked fine, particularly as Mikael Leiman (who was the convenor of this workshop) developed a very helpful skill in unobtrusive simultaneous translation a stage whisper beside me! I found to that a sort of communication developed between us that could be read in the eyes and hands movements and intonation based on the knowledge that we shared and under-standing the basics of the CAT model.

From there, I flew back to Helsinki for a repeat of the workshop which was held in a well arranged training centre in some government department building a stone’s throw from what feels like the central square of the capital: a beautiful cobbled expanse bordered by university buildings et al painted in light pastel shades and a huge church with its blue cupola studded with golden stars standing out against the autumnal sky.

This time it was a larger group of people on the CAT psychotherapy training who had perhaps had a bit more CAT experience that those in the first group. Although the participants were generally comfortable in English, we still employed the "fine-tuning in Finnish" which provided useful breaks.

My general impression is that the trainees I’ve met in Finland have a very thorough grounding in the model and are therefore confident about exploring different ways of working within it. We even experimented with "10 minute CAT" in the small groups!

The Helsinki workshop coincided with the AGM of Finacat (Finnish Association of Cognitive Analytic Therapists) to which I was invited to give a short talk. It was a delightful evening around a big dinner table in a private room of a hotel, where everyone shared something of how they had come into CAT. The business proceedings had been in Finnish before I arrived, but then everything was in English for my benefit which I found such a touching gesture. It would feel good to be able to offer something Finnish in return. So far, two visits allowed me to master the word for "thank you", but I can proudly announce that after my third trip I can now count up to five! 

Annalee Curran

Full Reference

Curran, A., 2000. Impressions of Finland. Reformulation, ACAT News Summer, p.x.

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