Cognitive Analytic Therapy is a short-term therapy developed by Dr. Anthony Ryle and is used in the treatment of a range of disorders and difficulties such as depression, anxiety, personal and relationship problems. CAT focuses its attention on discovering how problems have evolved and how the procedures devised to cope with them may be ineffective. It is designed to enable clients to gain an understanding of how the difficulties they experience may be made worse by their habitual coping mechanisms.
Problems are understood in the light of clients’ personal histories and life experiences. The focus is on recognising how these coping procedures originated and how they can be adapted and improved. Diagrams and written outlines are worked out together to help recognise, challenge and revise old patterns of coping that do not work well. Agreed insights are noted and can become tools for use within, outside and beyond the duration of therapy. In this way, clients gain skills to help them manage their lives more successfully and to continue using after therapy ends.
Cognitive Analytic Therapy is time limited. The duration of therapy usually ranges from 4–24 sessions, the average being sixteen. It can be used in the treatment of individuals and couples. As it is a cognitive therapy, it makes full use of the client’s capacity to observe and think about themselves, their assumptions, feelings and behaviours, so they begin to understand what is hindering them from moving forward and resolving their difficulties.
It is also an analytical therapy and unconscious factors are explored and their impact is recognised. The therapist-client relationship is understood and used in the process of therapy. A cohesive body of theory has been developed in relation to understanding personality and its development, and is an effective way of developing self awareness.