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Volume 1 Editorial

It is with great pleasure that we offer this first issue of the new International Journal of Cognitive Analytic Therapy and Relational Mental Health. The journal has taken a while to develop but represents the shared view among the representatives of the International CAT Association (ICATA) that its creation is needed. The journal offers a platform for the growing body of work emerging from the CAT model and relational and integrative approaches more broadly. These come from many different theoretical and clinical contexts as well as different countries and cultures. The newsletters and journals of national associations have been doing a valuable job in publishing excellent material but it was felt that there was a need now for a formal, peer-reviewed journal to carry more of this interesting work.

 

The perhaps rather lengthy title of the journal reflects a further view that, although it has emerged from ICATA and its interests and activities, it will be important to maintain a wider perspective and dialogue with others and to promote further research in the field of ‘relational mental health’ more broadly. This echoes the historic aim of CAT to be integrative and to be in dialogue with other relevant disciplines.

 

We hope this relational and integrative focus is reflected in the encouraging array of diverse contributions in this first issue. These include detailed studies of individual cases with common symptoms such as encopresis (Bernardy-Arbuz) or using formal approaches such as Leiman’s dialogical sequence analysis (Gersh et al), through to more systemic applications to developing a culture of reflective and relational practice such as forensic mental health services (Kemp, Bickerdike and Bingham) and social settings such as schools (Bonfield and Crothers) or in work with refugees (Melville and O’Brien). The contrast between using CAT as a relational framework for work with young people (Barnes) and CAT with older adults (Williams and Craven Staines) indicate the range of CAT practice across the lifespan.

 

We are pleased and fortunate indeed that this first issue is launched by a weighty and masterful review by Colwyn Trevarthen of the field of infant psychology and its intersubjective and relational underpinnings. He takes us through the radical changes that have occurred within the field over the past few decades. He then considers the implications of these developments for concepts of mental health and well-being and for therapy. Colwyn Trevarthen has been one of the leading and innovative figures in this field for many years and we are privileged that he has taken the time to contribute this piece. A common thread in all these pieces is a relational conceptualisation of individual and systemic mental health problems, its implications for more ‘joined-up’ ways of working, and for treatment provision.

 

The journal also includes book reviews over a broad range of relevant literature. We welcome correspondence on matters arising, and intimations of forthcoming events internationally. We also welcome suggestions for future commissioned pieces or special issues. We are currently aiming to dedicate part of the next issue to the concept of psychological ‘trauma’, broadly conceived, within a relational context.

 

The focus of this journal could be seen to be at odds with much of the dominant individually-focused, cognitive-behavioural or biomedical approaches to mental health in the Western world at present. We consider that it is therefore even more important to offer a platform for relationally-informed work that is scientifically-based as well as humanitarian in its ethos.

 

All of this very much reflects the aspirations of Tony Ryle, the founder of CAT. Sadly, as we go to press, we have learned of his death at the ripe old age of 89 years. His death will be a considerable absence in many ways to us all. Obituaries have already been published elsewhere and a memorial event to celebrate his work is taking place in London in March 2017. We wish to note here the extraordinary scientific and humanitarian achievement embodied in Tony’s life’s work, culminating in the creation of the CAT model. This continues to develop and to be applied by others in many various ways and settings, and in the light of emerging findings in a range of fields as diverse as neurobiology, developmental psychology and sociology.

 

This is very much in the spirit of the model and what Tony wished to occur. It reflects also the aspiration of this new journal. We are very fortunate that we managed to solicit a brief foreword for the journal from Tony a few months before his death. He did express considerable pleasure and pride in the growth of CAT through the work of various colleagues, and the

establishment of this journal, despite his frustration and anguish at the very evident human conflict and suffering still going on the world, and at our apparent inability to do anything more effective about it.

 

We hope that the broader CAT and relational approach of this journal offers a source of inspiration for a more kindly, optimistic yet realistic vision of individual and, inextricably, collective human life as well as of psychological disorder.

 

We are committed to a journal that is scientifically rigorous and peer- reviewed, but also one that is in the spirit of the CAT approach. Whilst a minimum charge will be made for print copies in the first instance to cover costs, the journal will then be open-access and ‘copy- left’ with regard to authors’ rights. Science depends upon a collaboration among communities of practioners, across national borders, languages and cultures.

 

We hope the journal will be as creative and collaborative as possible in terms of style and content. And we hope our readers will enjoy and benefit from the various pieces included here and look forward to receiving further contributions in the coming years from colleagues both within the CAT communities internationally, and beyond.

 

Steve Potter, Ian Kerr, Katri Kanninen

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