Using concepts from Cognitive Analytic Therapy (CAT)  

WWACA  has embraced training  and supervision in  principles from Cognitive Analytic Therapy (CAT) to provide a relationally enhanced  psychologically informed service for women and children fleeing domestic violence. 


The principles of CAT have been widely applied in a range of contexts, in the form of cognitive analytic consultancy. Examples include training health care and support staff to work more effectively with clients in community health teams, prisons, third sector organisations and in physical health care settings. Provision of a unified relational approach has resulted in improved outcomes for staff,  clients and services. Which includes enhanced communication, improved confidence, increased team morale, containment of anxiety and hope for change in management of complex clients (e.g. Kerr et al 2007, Thompson et al 2008).


There are similar effective outcomes with embedding concepts from CAT at WWACA, via training and consistent supervision. This has facilitated individualised CAT informed formulations of residents’ repeating relational patterns; usually originated in childhood  and enacted in the ‘here and now’.  CAT understanding at WWACA has increased awareness and sense of agency for staff in changing their relational patterns in their work; so as not to entrench resident’s traumatic experiences. To offer a healthier alternative opportunity to build a positive therapeutic alliance which allows, perhaps for the first time, the resident to experience a containing, compassionate, supportive, reflective, and boundaried relationship with WWACA workers. This has the potential to be internalised by the resident as a healthy way of relating to themselves and others; including their children and intimate partners.


This relational approach has also increased empathy between staff and enhanced quality and consistency of support offered to residents; reducing inconsistent and polarised responses between teams and staff (including within the hierarchy of the organisation) with  improved reflective capacity and teamwork. Collaborative working  has  enriched the team’s ability to face challenges which is facilitating a more open and supportive organisational culture.


As a result, Women and children at WWACA receive both physical and psychological safety from domestic violence with CAT informed attuned, contained, supportive and effective safe care.  This includes supporting women with complex needs in challenging psychosocial contexts, where historically,  staff may have struggled to manage provision of sustainable, contained and safe refuge. 


WWACA continues to develop and relationally enhance the organisational mechanisms supporting service provision to ensure that relational trauma informed services is developed and maintained.

Information on CAT Training and supervision kindly provided by Dr Karen Shannon