A Brief Survey of Perceptions of Cognitive Analytic Therapy Within Local Mental Health Systems

Turley, A., Faulkner, J., Tunbridge, V., Regan, C. and Knight, E., 2009. A Brief Survey of Perceptions of Cognitive Analytic Therapy Within Local Mental Health Systems. Reformulation, Winter, p.26.


Introduction

The aim of this study was to assess the level of knowledge, understanding, and perceived usefulness of CAT in the services in which the researchers worked. It was hoped that this would enable the researchers to provide useful CAT education and consultation to their local services.

Methodology

The five IRRAPT trainees devised a questionnaire to be sent out to various mental health professionals located in five different organisations, including child and adolescent mental health services, adult mental health services, and GP services in Dublin and the UK. Some questionnaires were sent by email, some hand delivered and others posted. Those returned were sent to a research assistant for database entry and analysis. The results section summarises the analyses. A more detailed summary of the analyses is available on request.

Results

A total of 50 respondents replied to the questionnaire. Of these, 20 gave no job description, seven identified themselves as clinical psychologists, seven as nurses, five as consultant psychiatrists, and further occupations included social worker, art therapist, and service manager.

Of the respondents replying, 88% indicated that they had heard of CAT, and 100% indicated that they would like to hear more about CAT. The majority suggested that they would like information about CAT to be in a presentation form, in leaflets, and training. Only 18% indicated that the internet would be an effective tool for learning about CAT. 40% of respondents knew of someone who had been treated using CAT, and of these, 50% felt CAT had been useful for these clients.

The majority of respondents indicated that CAT, in their perception, would be most useful in treating anxiety, mood disorders, personality disorders, self harm, eating disorders, relationship problems, and behavioural problems. A small minority thought CAT would be useful in treating pain management and psychosis. 96% of respondents saw CAT as useful in working with adults, 62% with youth, and 52% in primary care. 42% saw CAT as useful in working with older adults, addiction services, and forensics, while 38% saw CAT as suitable in a sex offender setting. A small minority saw CAT as useful when working with children, in a learning disability setting, or in consultation to teams. Most participants viewed CAT as being useful in individual work. Less than half saw CAT as useful in supervision, group work, with couples, or in systemic work.

No respondents indicated that they saw CAT as a long term therapy, with 38% seeing CAT as short term, 26% as medium term, and 32% as a mixture. The large majority of respondents saw CAT as differing from other therapies, with comments such as ‘CAT identifies the source’, ‘focuses on discovery, how problems have evolved and then how to cope with these’, ‘explicit about therapy relationship and dynamics for both client and therapist’, ‘use of letters and maps’, ‘deals with cognition more than other therapies’, and ‘it’s more psychoanalytic orientated’.

The majority of respondents indicated that a CAT therapist would be a valuable addition to their team. However, 8% didn’t share this belief, and 18% didn’t answer this question. Written feedback included ‘valuable as CAT is so applicable to many types of problems’, ‘different perspectives are always useful’, and ‘offers a brief intervention’.

Discussion

The results highlighted a general interest in learning more about CAT, which was encouraging. The indication that respondents wished to have presentations and training in CAT has led to some of the researchers offering their local service workshops in CAT. While a number of respondents seemed to have some knowledge and understanding of the use of CAT, other responses indicated large gaps, indicating that CAT trained individuals have a lot of opportunity to educate and spread information regarding the use and effectiveness of CAT across a wide range of areas.

Full Reference

Turley, A., Faulkner, J., Tunbridge, V., Regan, C. and Knight, E., 2009. A Brief Survey of Perceptions of Cognitive Analytic Therapy Within Local Mental Health Systems. Reformulation, Winter, p.26.

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