Cognitive Analytic Therapy (CAT)

Cognitive Analytic Therapy (CAT) is a collaborative approach that examines how an individual thinks, feels, and behaves, as well as the events and experiences that happens during such experiences. It is a time-limited psychotherapeutic approach that combines elements of cognitive and psychodynamic therapies, focusing on helping individuals understand and change recurring patterns of behavior, often rooted in early life experiences. CAT emphasizes the therapeutic relationship, self-awareness, and collaborative efforts between therapist and client to promote personal growth and emotional well-being by understanding the choices that individual make and ways of doing things differently.

Cognitive Analytic Therapy (CAT)


Cognitive Analytical Therapy (CAT) is a relatively newer psychotherapy approach that arose in the 1980s. It was developed by Dr. Anthony Ryle, a British psychiatrist. CAT was born out of a desire to integrate elements of cognitive and psychoanalytic therapies to create a more comprehensive and effective model for treating a wide range of psychological issues.

CAT is rooted in the belief that individuals can better understand and change their problematic thinking and behavior patterns by becoming aware of the repetitive cycles and conflicts within their lives. It combines the structured and goal-oriented aspects of cognitive therapy with the depth and exploration of psychoanalysis. CAT's focus on reciprocal role procedures and the use of reformulation diagrams, or "maps," helps clients visualize their interpersonal patterns and work towards meaningful change. Over the years, CAT has gained recognition as an effective approach for addressing a variety of mental health issues.

Focus theme / core-concept

Cognitive Analytic Therapy (CAT) acknowledges that people frequently form "reciprocal roles," or recurrent patterns of behavior and interaction, which have their roots in early experiences and relationships. These roles can be adaptive or maladaptive and influence how a person perceives and interacts with the world. The idea is that the patterns of behavior and thinking that individuals develop in their early years tend to persist throughout their lives.

CAT suggests that individuals follow specific procedural sequences in response to particular situations. These sequences often lead to predictable outcomes and consequences. Cognitive Analytic Therapy aims to help individuals integrate these self-states and reduce internal conflicts by understanding and changing patterns of behavior and thinking. CAT holds that change is facilitated through the recognition and revision of established patterns of behavior and thinking. Clients work with the therapist to identify and modify these patterns.


Enhanced Interpersonal Relationships: CAT equips individuals to form and maintain healthier and more satisfying relationships.

Emotional Regulation: Clients develop strategies to manage their emotions effectively, reducing distress and enhancing emotional well-being.

Improved Coping Strategies: CAT assists individuals in identifying and replacing maladaptive coping mechanisms with more adaptive alternatives.

Better Interpersonal Communication: Through improved self-awareness and understanding of their interpersonal patterns, clients often experience enhanced communication and healthier relationships.

Increased Self-Empowerment: CAT empowers clients to take an active role in their mental health and personal growth, fostering a sense of control and self-efficacy.


Identifying and Changing Maladaptive Patterns: The therapy helps clients identify and modify maladaptive and recurring patterns of behavior and interaction, often referred to as "reciprocal roles."

Exploration of Origins: It seeks to explore the origins of these patterns, often rooted in past experiences and relationships.

Enhancing Self-Awareness: CAT encourages clients to gain deeper insight into their thought processes and emotional responses, fostering self-awareness.

Identifying Barriers to Change: CAT helps clients identify how their established patterns may be hindering their progress and how to change them.

Sustainable Change: CAT's ultimate goal is to equip clients with tools and strategies for long-term psychological well-being and personal growth.


Psychotherapy File: A psychotherapy file in CAT serves as a structured record of therapy, documenting assessments, formulations, progress, and agreements to track the therapeutic process.

Reformulation Letter: It is an essential CAT tool, summarizing the therapist's understanding of client issues, including problematic patterns and their impact.

Sequential Diagrammatic Reformulation (SDR): The SDR is a visual diagram representing a client's thinking, feeling, and behavioral patterns, aiding in identifying areas for change.

Monitoring (in and between sessions): Monitoring involves ongoing assessment of client thoughts, emotions, and behaviors within and between sessions to enhance self-awareness and change.

Goodbye Letter: The goodbye letter is a reflective letter written by the client at the end of therapy, summarizing progress and insights, and providing closure as therapy concludes.