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CAT in Italy


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CAT in Italy

Cognitive Analytic Therapy (CAT) has recently developed in Italy as a result of a common interest and independent work of two teams, based in Emilia-Romagna Region, North Italy. In Ferrara, CAT was introduced in the University starting from Ferrara 2004 through a series of seminars and workshops directed to the Department of Mental Health, Local Health Agency in Ferrara and run by Ian Kerr and Anthony Ryle. From that time, a specific project was developed by the Section of Clinical Psychiatry, University of Ferrara in order to have CAT as a specific language for training in psychological approaches to emotional disorders and psychotherapy. Nurses and occupational therapists of the Rehabilitation Psychiatry Unit participated and are participating in basic program, whereas physicians (i.e. psychiatrists, residents in psychiatry) and psychologists participated and are participating in the training project. The group in Ferrara is working on the implementation of CAT both as a training method and a clinical approach specifically for consultation-liaison psychiatry, psycho-oncology and rehabilitation psychiatry.

CAT in Piacenza all started as an interest between two clinicians (Cristina Fiorani, CF and Marisa Poggioli, MP), with a discussion as to how to deal with clinical problems and how to deal with difficult complex cases and very disturbed adolescents. CF came to know of CAT in this way and started doing it under MP’s supervision. It was an exchange of ideas, an experiment and it worked. From there they began translating articles and eventually went and knocked on Tony Ryle’s door in Umbria where they were welcomed, fed and watered and he then supervised a few cases. It grew from this. It was a bottom up development, born out of individual clinical cases, which were eventually noticed in the service. More patients were engaging and it also proved a useful tool for building team cohesion, it created a shared understanding with some team members who began to work in unison. This in particular happened in the Eating Disorder Unit. During the last few years, interest in CAT has spread, some more people have become involved and have been captured by CAT, so lots of articles and paper for consultation have been translated. In 2010 MP led a supervision group, in order to complete her training as a supervisor and to give some more important training to 5 psychotherapists of different clinical backgrounds. Some of them already knew a bit of CAT, for others it was brand new. For everyone it has been a precious chance to learn a new approach, to work together on their clinical cases, with the important direct supervision of MP and the precious indirect supervision of Tony Ryle. Through this experience the interest and the enthusiasm in CAT has kept growing, so different psychotherapists that took part in the supervision group are going on with their personal training in CAT (two of them became CAT practitioners and two are going on with their training) and are using their learning in their different settings of work.

The two groups met in 2009 and decided to cooperate in a common and shared project, represented mainly by the creation of the Italian Association of CAT which has been founded in 2011, within ICATA.

In January 2013 the Piacenza group held an introductory course with five interested professionals, two of which are interested in doing the CAT Skills training.

We are a small but consistent group and interest is slowly growing, with different projects, for example the Italian Standardisation of The PSQ (Personality Structure Questionnaire) and the ongoing research into its use as an outcome measure which was published with Steve Kellet by APA. This collaboration is continuing and Cristina is continuing to gather data.

In Piacenza in January 2016 we were very proud to have organised the first official conference by ITACAT,  with Carlos Mirapeix. Carlos presented over a two day event “La terapia Cognitiva Analitica: un approcio relazionale alla salute mentale” and a workshop “state multiple del se’e il disturbo borderline di personalità”. It was a success and there were approximately 100 people for the first day and 35 for the workshop which had a limited number of places.

Shortly afterwards we had a request for an introductory course, and ran ones in March and September 2016.

MP is supervising some speech therapists on the contextual reformulation, one of them has formally asked to be accredited when she has done the correct number of hours supervision and practice. MP is also supervising a therapeutic community near Pavia who are also interested in the contextual reformulation, and continues to give some supervision at the AUSL.

We run small CAT groups for interested clinicians at the AUSL, and Cristina continues to use CAT therapy with eating disordered patients.

In 2019 in Ferrara with the coordination of our president Luigi Grassi we organized the 8th ICATA international conference from 27 to 29 June with the title Exploring and Integrating Dialogues in CAT.

Currently the ITACAT Association is in the process of considering an offer we have had to open a CAT School. This was discussed at the International meeting in Nottingham and might become a reality.

We are a small group, but the Association is slowly growing. For the moment CAT is a niche interest, there are some individual practitioners who continue to use CAT in their individual clinical practice and find it an extremely useful tool.

Official Website

ICATA Member Association:

Italian Cognitive Analytic Therapy