Cognitive Analytic Therapy focuses on what the client brings to the table, the deeper underlying problems, and how they relate to them. This therapeutic approach offers a secure and clinically effective method for those who wish to address these underlying difficulties. The purpose of CAT is to access, gradually grasp, and name these challenges. It aims to understand and reflect on how these challenges come up in everyday life.
The client and the mental health professional jointly describe the issues affecting the client. By establishing such a working relationship, this treatment approach seeks to understand the roots of these issues in prior relationships and experiences and ultimately resolve them through the changes that the client wishes to make. Therefore, it is highly beneficial to seek the help of a specialist.
And now, you can bring therapy home to you! Online cognitive analytic therapy allows patients to opt for effective treatment from the privacy and security of their own space. This method also increases the accessibility of treatment for patients living in rural areas and those with limited resources. Virtual CAT sessions are beneficial even from a clinical standpoint, requiring less time and resources. All you need is a stable internet connection and a smart device, and you can avail of premium services right away!
What is CAT?
Cognitive Analytic Therapy is a time-limited psychotherapy that can be useful for a wide range of difficulties. Initially developed in the United Kingdom by Anthony Ryle, CAT couples cognitive and analytic theory. The analytic part of therapy includes the investigation of previous events and experiences that may impact the problems you are currently dealing with. The therapist's goal is to help you comprehend why past events might still impact you today and why things might have gone wrong in the past.
After your therapist helps you understand the consequences of these experiences, they will examine your present coping mechanisms. A CAT therapist will first look into the effectiveness (or lack thereof) of your current coping mechanisms and then use cognitive therapy approaches to assist you in creating new coping mechanisms that allow you to cope in a healthy way that is beneficial to your well-being.
CAT is good at making sense of the real complexity, confusion, and overwhelming and distressing events as it helps you see them more clearly and find ways to improve them by addressing them, relating to them, and working through them. So, CAT helps us map out the patterns we might get into due to managing difficulties in our lives. This map is used as a focus for the therapy we do with the specialist.
What are the Benefits?
CAT has numerous benefits. In this treatment approach, you will:
- Develop tools (e.g., letters, diagrams) to understand yourself better.
- Gain a better grasp of your harmful tendencies and the positive aspects of yourself.
- Collaborate with your therapist to help you feel that your voice and opinions are being heard.
- Be helped in the creation of a successful therapeutic relationship by your therapist.
- Build a relationship of trust with your therapist that enables you to mutually explore the challenges you are facing.
- Recognize the issues you're facing now and how they affect your life and wellness.
- Examine the fundamental reasons for these issues in the context of your previous experiences and relationships
- Understand how you developed specific relationships with others and yourself to survive sometimes powerful and uncontrollable sensations.
- Find how these habits may currently be preventing you.
- Find the options and alternatives (or "exits") that are accessible to you to improve your life for yourself and the people you care about
- Learn how to continue your journey when therapy is over.
The Different Stages
This treatment is conducted in a nuanced manner. There are different ways to conduct CAT. It can be done individually, sometimes as a couple, and sometimes in a group. This therapy is time-limited and usually between 16-24 sessions. The therapist discusses and agrees upon the duration at the start of therapy. Each weekly session is for 50-60 minutes. Between one and five follow-up sessions are offered after the end of regular therapy. Again this is discussed and agreed upon with the therapist. The different stages are:
Reformulation Phase: The clients are urged to be candid about their personal experiences. They will divulge their histories and experiences. There are always some positive things in your life in addition to the negative. The therapist will urge you to identify what works well and what circumstances have made you happy and content so that you may identify both your strengths and your difficulties. After a few sessions, your therapist could ask you to complete "The Psychotherapy File," a questionnaire that categorizes frequently encountered challenges into:
- Traps: These are things we cannot escape from. Certain patterns of thinking and behavior can create a vicious circle. No matter how hard we try, things just seem to get worse. You might think, for instance, that no one ever pays attention to you. As a result, you stop sharing your emotions, which makes you miserable and lonely. Others may see this and inquire what's wrong, but you choose not to tell them because you believe they won't pay attention, perpetuating the cycle.
- Dilemmas: We frequently act in ways we do, even when we are not completely satisfied with the outcome. This occurs because the alternates we can think of seem just as bad or even worse. Sometimes we make assumptions about relationships that are not always true, such as "If I do 'x' then 'y' will follow." These situations fall under the categories of either/or, if/then dilemmas. Finding a middle ground between these two extremes might be challenging.
We frequently act as though these are our only options because we are unaware that we see things this way. Recognizing them is the first step to changing them.
- Snags: Describe situations where appropriate aims are sabotaged or abandoned because it is thought that achieving them would be harmful for oneself or forbidden by others. This can sometimes be traced back to how our relatives or we perceived us as children. Sometimes they arise because the important people in our lives don't want us to change or are unable to handle what our change implies to them.
This questionnaire allows you to focus on specific ways of thinking or behaving that are probably worsening your current problems. Identifying specific symptoms that will be checked frequently during treatment may be possible.
Around the 4th or 5th session, the therapist will prepare and read aloud a "reformulation letter." This is a written record of the understanding you and your therapist have about the issues that drove you to therapy, the ways you've attempted to deal with them, and what you hope to change after treatment is through.
- Recognition: This is the second stage, where the emphasis shifts to more recent experiences and exploration of the patterns you have identified being played out. Many of these patterns will involve relationships with others or yourself. This stage of therapy is about compassionately observing what is going on rather than trying to make changes. A CAT diagram is always used as a road map of your problems, how they came about and are maintained, and the patterns you tend to fall into that keep you stuck.
- Revision: As the therapy continues, the emphasis shifts to trying different ways of acting, thinking, and relating and observing how they function. These are frequently referred to as "exits" since they allow you to escape the patterns you had been feeling trapped in. It takes time to practice these new ways of being, using the CAT diagram to detect when you have reverted to your old, comfortable habits and considering how you can approach things differently in the future.
- Ending: The final three or four sessions are used to reflect on the therapy process and the breakdown of this therapeutic alliance. In the last session, the therapist will write a "goodbye letter" and invite you to do the same. You can use this farewell letter, the CAT diagram, and the reformulation letter as written reminders of therapy to carry on working when treatment is over.
What Conditions Can it Help Treat?
Cognitive Analytic Therapy can be used to treat:
- Adult mental health problems in primary, secondary, and tertiary care settings.
- Many people presenting anxiety or depression have a history of abuse, trauma, or neglect underlying their symptoms. This treatment approach offers a safe and clinically effective therapeutic intervention.
- Neurological problems (including depression, anxiety, and eating disorders), personality disorders (particularly borderline personality disorder), and some psychotic diagnoses (e.g., bipolar).
- Suicidality or repeated self-harm.
- Difficulties in relationships, including problems of anger control, sexual difficulties, bereavement, loss, and chronic trauma/abuse.
- Lifespan issues: e.g., in older adults; adolescent mental health difficulties; parenting issues.
- Physical health difficulties, including problems of adaptation; non-compliance with medical treatment, especially in primary care (e.g., diabetes, asthma).
- Learning disabilities.
Get Counseling from a Trusted Therapist With DocVita
It can be intimidating to acknowledge and seek help for a mental health issue or emotional challenges in your life, but you must do so. You can gain a deeper understanding of and conquer the barriers preventing you from enjoying a healthy, fulfilling life through cognitive analytic therapy.
We have a variety of specialists at DocVita who practice CAT and would be happy to assist you in moving toward living your best life. Our kind and compassionate therapists understand you and the challenges you face daily. This helps them develop the finest treatment solutions designed to meet your individual needs. Visit our page now and set up your first appointment today!