What are the key elements of cognitive analytic therapy for psychosis? A Delphi study

Peter Taylor, Sarah Jones, Christopher D. Huntley, Claire Seddon

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There has been growing interest in the use of cognitive analytic therapy (CAT) with those facing experiences of psychosis. However, there is little research on how CAT is best applied to working with psychosis. This study aimed to identify what the key aspects of CAT for psychosis are or whether this approach requires adaptation when applied to those with experiences of psychosis, drawing on expert opinion.

An adapted Delphi methodology was used. Items were generated during an initial workshop (N = 24) and then rated for agreement or importance via an online survey by a sample of experts with experience of CAT and working clinically with psychosis (N = 14).

Following two rounds of ratings, consensus was reached on most items. Additional comments emphasized the need to be flexible with regard to the varying needs of individual clients.

Results highlight the specific relational understanding of psychosis provided by CAT as one of the key elements of this approach. Responses emphasized the need for some level of adaptation to work with psychosis, including greater flexibility with regard to the treatment frame.
Practitioner Points

When working with experiences of psychosis, aspects of the CAT model, such as session length, pacing, and duration of therapy, are open to change and may require modification.
When working with experiences of psychosis, narrative reformulation letters and sequential diagrammatic reformulation (SDR) remain essential to the therapy.
This Delphi methodology study essentially relies on opinion. Further empirical research could test assumptions about the most important or therapeutically effective components of CAT in psychosis.
CAT is still not widely used in the context of psychosis limiting the pool of experts available for the current sample.
Original languageEnglish
JournalPsychology and Psychotherapy: Theory, Research and Practice
Early online date20 Feb 2017
Publication statusPublished - 2017


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