Cognitive Analytic Therapy (CAT)

What is Cognitive Analytic Therapy (CAT)

CAT is a time-limited, therapeutic approach that seeks to make sense of people’s difficulties through the lens of their relationships with themselves and others, in a collaborative way. Key to this is an understanding of how the ways in which we have been treated early on have shaped our current patterns and expectations of relating to ourselves and others, and how some of these patterns may be at the root of, and perpetuating, our distress. Beyond offering a framework for understanding the origins and maintenance of individuals’ distress, CAT seeks to enhance individuals’ capacity to become mindfully aware of otherwise habitual patterns, and support them in discovering and experiencing new, more helpful ones. As part of this process, the therapeutic relationship is often looked at and used as a platform for understanding and experiencing familiar and unfamiliar ways of relating.

CAT is not a prescriptive, predesigned approach. In facilitating change, CAT creatively integrates interventions tailored to meet individuals’ needs, and support them towards their goals. These may include, exploration, mindfulness, challenging thinking patterns, and building skills in developing new ways of relating to self and others.

Who is CAT for?

Initial assessment can help determine whether CAT may be a suitable approach for you.

In general, because of its relational focus, CAT may be most beneficial to individuals who experience distress in their relationships with other people, and in how they feel about, and treat themselves. Emotional instability, stress, anxiety, low mood, depression, low self-esteem, irritability and anger, self-harming, eating difficulties, and addictions are amongst the issues (or symptoms of relational distress) that CAT can work with.

You may find out more information about CAT on


Dr Charlie Heriot-Maitland in an award-winning ARTE TV documentary 

Dr Chris Irons’ Compassion course at the Guardian newspaper 

Dr Charlie Heriot-Maitland interviewed on ABC Australian National Radio 

Dr Charlie Heriot-Maitland in a Daily Mail article

Dr Chris Irons mentioned in this Daily Mail article

Dr Charlie Heriot-Maitland interview for Psychology Today 

Dr Chris Irons mention in an article in the Independent newspaper 

Dr Charlie Heriot-Maitland’s blog for Compassionate Mental Health 

Dr Chris Irons’s interview for Brighton Therapy Partnership 

Balanced Minds mentioned in a Daily Telegraph article on CFT