CAT has a strong focus on the therapist working jointly alongside you so that your voice and opinion is heard every step of the way. In the early sessions, you will have opportunity to tell your story, gradually building up a picture of your difficulties together.
The therapist does not need to know every detail, and you can just share what you feel is manageable. During this process, you will work alongside your therapist to begin noticing and mapping out patterns that keep you feeling stuck in negative cycles of emotion, repeating things you do not want. You will also be enabled to think about how these patterns developed.
You may be asked to complete a questionnaire called the Psychotherapy File. This gives examples of patterns and states of mind people often describe.
You may also agree to do some tasks between sessions, e.g. monitoring moods and patterns. These patterns may also arise during therapy, with your therapist. It will be helpful to discuss these openly with your therapist.
Agreeing what to work on
You and your therapist will discuss and agree what the main problems are that you want to work on together. After the early sessions, it is helpful to put together a letter which summarises what you’ve found out, and helps you keep track of how you plan to change things. Your therapist might draft a letter to you, or you might choose to write it together. Your therapist may also draw a diagram as a visual summary of the patterns to be clear about the patterns you are working on, and to help you recognise when you are in them.
The middle phase of CAT therapy
From this point, CAT gives you the space to begin to focus on two or three patterns you want to change. Monitoring between sessions and exploring things further during sessions helps you notice when you are using these patterns.
As you become better at spotting patterns, it can become easier to think about new more helpful ways to be. Your therapist supports you in discovering and trying out new possibilities for change. You and your therapist will work together to overcome obstacles which often get in the way of change.
Ending CAT therapy
CAT is usually a time-limited therapy and the therapist will help you keep the idea of the ending in mind, even from the start of your meetings. Towards the end of therapy this will be something that you and your therapist will talk about more.
As you come to the end of your meetings, you and your therapist will write an ending letter. This gives you both a chance to reflect on the therapy, what you can take away from it, how you feel about this ending, and the future.