What is Cognitive Analytic Therapy ?

Cognitive analytic therapy (CAT), is a time-limited therapy in which you work closely with a therapist to look at patterns of relating to others, and how these patterns affect your relationships, everyday life and feelings about yourself.

CAT was developed by GP and psychotherapist Dr Anthony Ryle. He realised that there were three patterns of problems that prevented people from changing their behaviours. These are ‘Traps’ (things we feel we can’t escape); ‘Dilemmas’ (false choices and narrow options); and ‘Snags’ (things we put in the way of making changes). CAT uses these three patterns as a way of starting to think about problems.

It can help if …

CAT can be useful for helping people with eating disorders, addictions, obsessive-compulsive disorder, panic attacks, phobias, depression, anxiety, psychosis, borderline personality disorders and bipolar disorder.

What happens?

A course of therapy runs, on average, over 16 weekly sessions. The first few are the ‘reformulation phase’.  You will be encouraged to talk about your life  – what’s gone well, as well as what’s gone wrong – and establish which behaviours and thinking contribute to the latter, through a questionnaire called ‘The psychotherapy file’. Around the 4th session, your therapist will read you a ‘reformulation letter’ setting out your problems, what you have done in the past and what you want to change through CAT. You map out pattern problems on paper. Working with the therapist, you can recognise, monitor and work towards changing these patterns.

For more information, see The Association for Cognitive Analytic Therapy.