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C.A.T doesn’t include cats or couches

Updated: Jul 18, 2023

A client once sat down in the room with me and in the most serious of tones, said,

“Well, that’s disappointing, there aren’t any cats in here”.

I didn’t know how to respond.

After what felt like a long time, she fortunately let out a very little sarcastic laugh and we were able to make a start together.

Colleagues and students have often asked me, “what defines Cognitive Analytic Therapy (CAT)” or “is it the same as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy"?

The problem is, if you want to know what happens in a CAT session, you either have to read a lot about it or maybe even pay to have some yourself, as like with all therapies, it isn’t ethical to have observers sit in on a session for their own learning.

In this mini-series of blog posts, I am going to do my best to explain to you what Cognitive Analytic Therapy is.

The first myth to dispel is that there are NO cats involved and definitely no couches either.

Unlike some forms of psychotherapy, CAT doesn’t expect the client to lay down on a couch staring into the distance while the therapist sits out of sight behind them.

In CAT, both the therapist and client, sit up-right in chairs and ideally face each other at a 90 degree angle. This helps to create a sense of space, and between them, there is a small table that they can use to work on the client’s therapy map together.

One of the benefits of this side-by-side working, is that it helps to rebalance the potential power dynamic between the therapist and client. As sitting face-on can be intimidating for some and facing in the opposite direction- say while laying on a couch- is unlikely to foster much collaboration.

CAT is a truly collaborative relational therapy and if you would like to know more about it and how you can integrate it's principles into your practice, click here.

Until next time,



Perhaps this has sparked your interest in training as a Cognitive Analytic Therapist? If so, click below to find out more

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