The Evolution of Talk Therapy

Individual Counseling Insights From Westlake Village-Based Patricia McTague-Loft

Ever since Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung offered their somewhat competing theories of psychoanalysis at the beginning of the 20th century, people in general have been following the latest developments in the field with a great deal of interest. New theories develop, are tested in practice by psychologists and counselors and the most effective ones are widely adopted.

A man in talk therapy

Talk therapy has shown great promise and delivered on the promise. That has led to specialized forms of talk therapy, often to the great benefit of people dealing with a wide variety of mental health issues. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is a fairly widely accepted form of talk therapy that focuses on your present thoughts, emotions and behaviors in order to teach them how to change.

Since the 1980s, another type of talk therapy— Cognitive Analytic Therapy —  has also proven to be quite effective, and is distinctly different from CBT. Instead of focusing on a person’s present state, it concentrates on how your life experiences have shaped your day-to-day behaviors.

Writing for Healthline, Eleesha Lockett says, “Cognitive analytic therapy (CAT) is a type of talk therapy that focuses on helping people recognize and change the way that they behave and interact with others.

“One of the main focal points of CAT is exploring how someone’s life experiences have shaped the way that they interact with themselves and the people around them. According to CAT, the impact of these past experiences generally causes three specific types of behavioral patterns, also called procedures.’ “ These are:

Traps happen when dysfunctional behaviors and negative thought patterns feed on each other, almost in a type of ‘cycle.’ When people aren’t able to recognize these spirals, it keeps them stuck in the trap of these behaviors and thoughts.”

Dilemmas happen when people remain in situations or continue to engage in behaviors in order to avoid a potentially worse alternative. Oftentimes, dilemmas are the result of ‘either/or’ and ‘if/then’ thinking.”

“Snags happen when the anticipation of future consequences prevents someone from being able to make choices or engage in behaviors that they want. Sometimes a snag can come from within ― other times, it can come from those around us.”

CAT is established as a form of therapy, but it’s one of the newer forms. Dr. Anthony Ryle, an English MD, began developing it in the 1970s and ‘80s. Only recently have researchers begun large-scale studies to determine its effectiveness. Results of the studies, though, are quite positive.

For more information on CAT, read Lockett’s full article here.