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Cognitive Analytic Therapy (CAT) was developed by Anthony Ryle. This therapy was developed in the context of the National Health Service in the United Kingdom with the aim of providing psychological treatment which could be realistically provided by the NHS.

CAT further evolved as an integrated therapy based on ides from psychoanalytic therapy, cognitive therapy and Vygotskian ideas.

Typically the therapy comprises 16 sessions. In the first 4 - 6 sessions the therapist collects all the relevant information. After that s/he writes a reformulation letter to the client. This letter summarises the therapists understanding of the client's problems. Particular attention is given to understanding the connection between childhood patterns of behaviour and their impact on adult life.

CAT theory

The model emphasises on collaborative work with the client, and focuses on the understanding of the patterns of maladaptive behaviours. The aim of the therapy is to understand origins and recognition of these patterns, and subsequently to learn alternative ways in order to cope better. CAT includes terms such as Snags,Dilemmas, Traps,and Sequential Diagrammatic Reformulation.

Main article: CAT theory

Professional organizations

  • Association for Cognitive Analytic Therapy



Acreditation of practitioners and the provision of approved training is organised by the Association for Cognitive Analytic Therapy. On their website they list four routes to training in CAT theory and practice:

  • Introductory Courses: These comprise either short, introductory workshops usually of one or two days in length or longer, six month to one year introductions. While certificates of attendance may be given the courses are not assessed and do not lead to a qualification.
  • Practitioner Training: Practitioner training enables core professionals with competence in their own field to enhance their understanding and skills in psychotherapy by learning the theory and methods of CAT. Courses usually last two years and are assessed, leading to the Certificate of Competence in CAT and eligibility for membership of ACAT. This training may be linked with universities that offer Diploma or MSc qualifications but may have additional academic requirements.
  • Psychotherapy Training: Psychotherapy training enables individuals at the graduate level to practice independently as Cognitive Analytic psychotherapists. These are four year assessed courses leading to eligibility for registration with the United Kingdom Council for Psychotherapy. There is currently one Psychotherapy Training within ACAT, which is a two-year residential training, known as the Interregional Residential ACAT Psychotherapy Training (IRRAPT). Applicants to the Residential Training must have completed a two-year Practitioner training.
  • Accreditation of prior learning: In certain circumstances individuals may have their past training and experience recognised by ACAT as equivalent to its current standards. They provide guidelines outlining procedures for this route.

See also

References & Bibliography

Key texts


  • Ryle A (1994) Cognitive Analytic Therapy: Active Participation in Change London: Wiley
  • Ryle A (1995)Cognitive Analytic Therapy: Developments in Theory and Practice. Wiley. ISBN 047194355X ISBN: 0471956023 pb ISBN 047194355X
  • Ryle A (1997) Cognitive Analytic Therapy and Borderline Personality Disorder: The Model and the Method (with Tim Leighton, Philip Pollock).Publisher: Chichester ; John Wiley, ISBN: 0471976172 pb ISBN 0471976180
  • Ryle, R.and Kerr,I.B.(2002) Introducing cognitive analytic therapy: principles and practice. Chichester : Wiley. ISBN 0471892734


  • Ryle A (1979) The Focus in Brief Interpretive Psychotherapy: Dilemmas, Traps and Snags as Target Problems British Journal of Psychiatry 134,46-54

Additional material



  • Google Scholar
  • Cowmeadow, P. (1994) Deliberate self-harm and cognitive analytic therapy. International Journal of Brief Therapy, 9, 135-150.
  • Denman, F. (1995) Treating eating disorders using CAT: two case examples. In Cognitive Analytic Therapy: Developments in Theory and Practice (ed. A. Ryle). Chichester: John Wiley.
  • Rees,H.(2000)Cognitive—analytical therapy — a most suitable training for psychiatrists? Psychiatric Bulletin 24: 124-126 Full text

External links

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