What is cognitive analytical therapy (CAT)?

CAT is a collaborative program which looks at the way a person thinks, feels and acts, and the events and relationships that underlie these experiences, often stemming from childhood. As with cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), this therapy is short term (up to 16 weeks), structured and directive. 

Clients take an active role in their own process of healing, and learn to make associations and analyse their own responses through ‘homework’, such as diary keeping, progress charts, etc. The therapist works in collaboration with the client, focusing on changing negative thought patterns and behaviour, and teaching alternative strategies for coping. Emphasis is put on relationships between people, rather than problems occurring solely within the individual.

It is important that there is an empathetic relationship between the client and therapist, to help the client make sense of their situation and find ways of changing (in CAT these are called "exits").

Who benefits from cognitive analytical therapy?

CAT is less well-known than CBT, but appeals to many of the same people. Those with anxiety, depression, disordered eating, phobias and relationship difficulties may find that structured analysis of their responses to various situations will help in realising where they have problems, while the strategies for coping are useful and achievable. 

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Last updated on September 2 2015