If you’ve landed here, it’s likely you’re interested in training in CATT.
CATT, or Children’s Accelerated Trauma Technique, is an adaptable 12-stage trauma therapy that facilitates the healing process for young people with PTSD and Complex PTSD.
Developed specifically for children and adolescents, CATT combines creative arts techniques with CBT theory to connect with the minds of young people from age 4 upwards; minds that communicate intrinsically using play and creativity. You can read more about CATT here.
But, when you’re umming and ahhing about whether to train in a new technique, it can be useful to learn about other people’s experiences of doing just that.
Melinda Stubbs, or Mindy, is an Integrative Psychotherapeutic Counsellor. She works from her private practice as well as for an agency that provides free counselling to people who have been affected by rape and sexual abuse. Mindy works with adults and children from the age of 13 years old.
The clients Mindy works with face a range of issues. Alongside PTSD and complex trauma, these include anxiety, depression, low self-esteem, learned helplessness and severe emotional dysregulation. The adults and children coming through Mindy’s door are commonly processing recent or historic trauma, such as cases of abuse and neglect, and suffer from PTSD and C-PTSD.
Why Something New?
Having worked in the field for 4+ years, Mindy was beginning to feel like she needed a therapy that better served the needs of her clients.
Mindy adapted her integrative approach to incorporate slightly more direction. These efforts towards teaching her clients skills and techniques that would enable them to manage their dysregulation and move forward safely worked, in part, but did not help them to process their trauma memories effectively.
Mindy’s clients needed more support. So she went searching for something different, knowing full well that recounting life stories and creativity can help to maintain regulation and aid in safely working through traumatic memories.
Mindy was already familiar with Dr Carlotta Raby, the creator of CATT, because Carlotta had lectured on a counselling course Mindy had taken on her professional learning journey.
Having done further research into the 12-step CATT technique, Mindy could immediately see that the protocol complemented the working structure she followed at the agency. Three factors became clear and swung Mindy’s decision to train in CATT as soon as possible;
- The fully adaptive 12-step framework would work well within the 12-24 therapy session limit of the agency’s counselling contracts.
- CATT ensured clients were resourced and stabilised before attempting any trauma memory work.
- The CATT training course was only 2 days long, after which Mindy could implement her new skills and hit the ground running with her clients.
What Did You Love About The CATT Training Course?
Mindy attended an online CATT course. She thoroughly enjoyed getting to grips with learning and practising the memory processing and re-scripting stages because she had finally found exactly what she was looking for in a therapy tool.
Mindy also found the psycho-education sections of the CATT protocol insightful and useful, using it to provide trauma psychoeducation to clients before doing memory work.
How Have You Implemented CATT?
Because the CATT programme complimented Mindy’s staged approach to working with her clients, it was incredibly easy to pick up and apply out of the training programme.
Safety and stabilisation are key to my practice, and crucial before touching on approaching the stored trauma memories that manifest as distressing PTSD symptoms. And Mindy’s clients, too, appreciated that safety and stabilisation are prioritised in CATT before processing any trauma memories.
Mindy worked with a young client, (pseudonym Valentia) who was assaulted on a bus.
After this incident, Valentina feared riding public transport by herself, limiting her quality of life and ability to maintain social friendships.
Mindy steadily and gently worked through the CATT protocol with her young client who was able to emotionally process the assault and through the re-scripting stage, learned that buses themselves are not dangerous.
When Mindy helped Valentina to rescript the meaning of the assault, she felt more confident to give the bus another go. Within a week of this memory rescripting, Valentina had completed a planned short trip on the bus successfully, and within two weeks, she was taking the train. Valentina also reported a greater sense of agency, self-confidence and emotional regulation.
Mindy used the CATT protocol to help a teenager (pseudonym Janice) who was sexually assaulted in her childhood by a family member.
Some years after the assault, Janice disclosed the sexual assault to her mother, which was not received well, and further traumatised her. Janice also experienced bullying in school for experiencing panic attacks.
At the time of coming to see Mindy, Janice was experiencing frequent dissociation and panic and was extremely emotionally dysregulated. Some of the coping mechanisms she had been using included self-harming and hyper-controlling her food intake.
CATT enabled Mindy to help Janice work through each traumatic memory separately and fully. Working at a pace comfortable to Janice meant that she was able to build a trusting relationship with Mindy that permitted them to work on her trauma memories. When Janice processed the assault itself, she was able to recognise she was not to blame and thereby relieve the huge feelings of shame she’d been carrying for so many years.
Janice was then able to communicate better with her mother about her feelings and needs and build a small support network whom she trusted. Through the CATT therapy, Janice improved her ability to self-regulate and reduced her self-harming and food controlling behaviours.
Mindy’s work with Janice was relatively quick and hugely positive, helping her regain a quality of life she hadn’t known for a long time, and the door was left open for future sessions if needed.
Who Would You Recommend CATT To?
Words from Mindy herself…
“I would recommend CATT to anyone who works with highly traumatised clients, regardless of age. It is easy to adapt to older clients. The technique really works in helping clients process complex trauma. It is so important to pace clients when working with trauma, and CATT provides that safety that perhaps other talking therapies don’t.”
Want To Learn More About CATT?
Read our previous blog here to learn how CATT can be integrated in different settings…