At the start, the therapist will normally agree the number of sessions with the patient, which would typically be 16 in total but could be more or less depending on the circumstances. After the first session, the client will be asked to take away and complete the psychotherapy file which contains instructions on self-monitoring of mood changes and symptoms and initiates the task of learning self-reflection. By the end of the first four sessions, the therapist then presents the client with a reformulation letter which identifies the personal meaning which the client attaches to their experience and which describes the problem behaviours that are perpetuating distress and dysfunction.
During the course of the sessions themselves, the therapist uses a range of cognitive and psychoanalytical techniques to assist the client in reformulating, recognising and revising current roles and behaviours in order to achieve a different and better means of relating to others and a healthier set of coping strategies.
Cognitive Analytic Therapy has been used successfully across a range of problems and has proved to be particularly effective for treating eating disorders, depression, anxiety, trauma, self-harm and relationship problems. Like Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, it can be used to equally good effect with individuals, couples and groups.