Ellen Khan, Michelle Hamill, Paul Catlin

Conversations in Later Life: A Cognitive Analytic Approach to Aging Well

An accessible exploration of the potential of psychology in general, and relational approaches in particular, to help us understand issues of later life, makes sense of anxiety and distress in advancing years, and optimise adult development and aging.


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Later life can be a time when our established routines and coping strategies are challenged by retirement, losses, changes in social role and disabilities, resulting in frightening threats to the integrity of self. Such changes may jeopardise longstanding and cherished ways of relating – patterns that may seem to be bound up with our very identity, but which may become problematic or restrictive as circumstances evolve.

Part of the ‘Innovations in CAT’ series, and written by CAT practitioners along with service users, Conversations in Later Life offers an antidote to the philosophy of ‘don’t make a fuss’. Taking a lifespan approach, it provides an understanding of emotional difficulties in later life along with a means to look after feelings in order to better manage distress. With its emphasis on social context and development of the self over time, CAT is well-placed to explore issues of identity as they evolve with age.


CAT-trained therapists; mental health clinicians e.g. psychologists and psychiatrists; health and social care professionals working with older adults; those involved in gerontology and geriatric well-being; policy makers; care home managers; family and professional carers; anyone interested in relational therapies and later life.


Publisher: Pavilion Publishing and Media Ltd

ISBN: 9781803883991

Publication Date: June 2024

Page count: 256




1. Setting the scene (Michelle Hamill & Ellen Khan)
2. Conversations in later life: The dance of relating (Elizabeth Wilde McCormick)
3. Mapping a lifetime of stories (Steve Potter)
4. Finding a compassionate life story (Alastair Gaskell)
5. Who am I really?: A CAT reflection on retirement (Henrietta Batchelor)
6. The legacy of complex trauma (Paul Catlin)
7. When health changes: Caring and being cared for (Ellen Khan &Michelle Hamill)
8. Endings (Kitty Clark McGhee & Emma Forde)




Michelle Hamill is a consultant clinical psychologist and CAT practitioner and supervisor, who has worked in the NHS for twenty years in the field of older adult mental health, memory clinics and dementia care. She is the co-author of a self-help book for carers: How to Help Someone with Dementia (2023).

Ellen Khan is a principal clinical psychologist and CAT practitioner and supervisor, who has worked in the NHS for sixteen years with older people, people with dementia and their carers. Ellen draws on multiple therapeutic approaches in her clinical work, but she particularly values CAT and the relational richness it offers.

Paul Catlin is a writer, activist and lecturer of Anglo-Nigerian heritage. He is currently fulfilling a lifetime ambition by writing a memoir and sequel to the acclaimed novel City of Spades, in which the author Colin MacInnes chronicles his friendship with Paul’s migrant father and the prevailing post-war racial climate within the UK.


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