YMCA Together, working across the north west of England, has made use of the cognitive analytic therapy approach in a number of its services. This began in 2014 when the service started working with cognitive analytic therapist Karen Shannon, and more recently, Kate Portman.
Staff working within the Multiple & Complex Needs (MCN) services trained in CAT Skills Case Management. CAT reflective practice was put into use by staff working with people in their services who were homeless. Many of those using YMCA accommodation also had mental health difficulties, and were using drugs and/or alcohol. Some were caught in cycles of behaviour which brought them to the attention of the police.
Ellie McNeil, Chief Executive of YMCA Together, describes the journey of the organisation in her blog.
“….we initially brought in the CAT approach to enable the delivery of a project supporting people with multiple and complex needs. Disenfranchised, excluded, rejected and frightened manifested as aggressive, disengaged, self sabotaging, and rejecting. We knew we needed a different approach, not only to elicit change with service users but more so to support the staff in their roles.
The team were trained in CAT Case Management, and we started to use reflective practice. Over the subsequent years we tweaked and changed our way of working. With the support of Karen, we had created a framework to work within. We’d developed a shared understanding of why the people we supported behaved the way they did and what we could do to change our response so that we could support them more effectively……
…..I am incredibly proud of where we are as a team and believe we have got to this place because of the shared understanding, language and framework that CAT gives us. Working in a CAT informed way helps me to ensure the organisation can be a positive place for service users and staff members now and in the future.”
You can read a further summary of this work in Homeless Link’s report on Reflective Practice in homelessness services: an introduction (pages 11 – 15)
In 2019, YMCA Together, along with several other partner organisations, opened RISE Recovery Services. One part of this is an eighteen week residential service for people recovering from drug and alcohol dependency. This too uses cognitive analytic therapy as a framework for all aspects of the service. CAT reflective practice helps key workers deliver relational support to residents. A CAT therapist supports the team and provides one-to-one work.
Thanks are extended to Ellie McNeil and Kate Portman for helpful contributions to this page.