Jamie Kirkland, Jenny Marshall

Reflective Practice in Forensic Settings: A Cognitive Analytic Approach to Developing Shared Thinking


With reflective practice increasingly recognized as an effective way to help staff working in challenging environments, expert contributors explore ways in which a CAT model can enable reflective practice in forensic services at individual, team and organizational levels.



Working in forensic settings with clients who have histories of damage and abuse can be a demanding, disturbing, thrilling and unique experience. It means building connections and instilling the capacity to think before acting – far more than just providing therapy. At a service level, it requires a compassionate culture that promotes the ability to reflect on complex interpersonal dynamics at all levels of the organization. Cognitive Analytic Therapy (CAT) is an accessible model for understanding human relationships that offers a common language for teams and organizations. Reflective Practice in Forensic Settings brings together a range of clinicians to share their experience and approaches, exploring ways in which the CAT model can be applied to develop reflective practice in secure contexts. Together, they also offer valuable guidance for any practitioner seeking ways in which to develop a more relationally informed and reflective therapeutic service.


JENNY MARSHALL is a Consultant Clinical Psychologist at Ridgway Hospital, Tees, Esk and Wear Valleys NHS Trust, and an accredited CAT Practitioner and Supervisor. She has a long history of working in low and medium secure services with people with mental disorders, and she has a strong interest in the application of the CAT model to reflective practice. She works with Catalyse, a social enterprise offering CAT training, therapy and consultancy through a network of expertise across northern England.

JAMIE KIRKLAND is a Consultant Clinical Psychologist in the Division of Forensic Mental Health and Learning Disabilities with NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, where he is the lead for reflective practice. He is a CAT Trainer and Supervisor, and co-Director of CAT Training Scotland. He has applied CAT in secure settings and with community learning disability teams, and has a strong interest creating reflective spaces for multi-disciplinary staff teams.



Publisher: Pavilion Publishing and Media Ltd

Publication Date: End of September 2021

ISBN: 9781914010842


Table of Contents

PART 1 – Introduction to Forensic Work, Reflective Practice and the Relational Model

The challenge of working in forensic services (Jenny Marshall & Jamie Kirkland); 2. Traditional approaches to reflective practice (Jon Patrick, Katharine Russell & Adam Polnay); 3. The CAT model (Jenny Marshall & Jamie Kirkland); 4. Relational mapping (Steve Potter)


PART 2 – Facilitating Reflective Practice

Core competencies for reflective practice (Jamie Kirkland); 6. Steps to reflective mapping (Steve Potter); 7. Case studies from forensic settings (Various); 8. Crossing and uncrossing the line (Jason Hepple); 9. Helping the helpers (Jamie Kirkland, Heather Tolland, Emma Drysdale & Steve Jefferis); 10. CAT-informed supervision (Alison Bickerdike, Nicola Kemp & Clare Bingham)


PART 3 – Reflective Practice and the Wider Organization

When forensic systems go astray (David Harvey); 12. Leadership and CAT – Part 1 (Jenny Marshall); 13. Leadership and CAT – Part 2 (Jenny Marshall); 14. Concluding thoughts (Jenny Marshall, Jamie Kirkland & Steve Potter)


  1. Dr Rajan Darjee | Senior Lecturer in Forensic Psychiatry

    Cognitive analytic therapy (CAT) is a wonderfully practical framework which can be used in virtually every aspect of forensic mental health practice and service delivery. It avoids both the mystifying psychobabble of classic psychoanalysis and the cold rigidity of classic CBT. I’m exaggerating to make the point as both psychodynamic and CBT approaches have thankfully learnt something from each other. But CAT just does this without the baggage, although, like all therapies, there is a danger of coltishness and alienating non-adherents. I’m not a CAT therapist or cultist, but I use the framework almost every day. Reflective Practice in Forensic Settings is a wonderful companion to help me with that.

    As I used to say to one of the editors, Jamie Kirkland, when I was fortunate enough to work with him in the community forensic service in Edinburgh, “It’s all about relationships”. And CAT provides what I think is the best framework for therapists, other clinicians, patients, managers, teams and other agencies involved in the fascinating and challenging world of forensic practice to understand, step back from and correct the dysfunctional relational dynamics that start with the early lives of our patients, colour their psychopathology, are given awful expression in their destructive acts, and then reverberate in their subsequent interactions with professionals and systems.

    This book is an essential companion to dealing with these issues in forensic services. Its chapters cover what forensic clinicians and services need to think about to try and achieve the most essential task of “getting the relationships right”. Which is as important in forensic practice as fences, alarms, anti-psychotic medication, staff training in dealing with aggression, and risk assessment. There are many examples and inquiries which demonstrate what happens when forensic services don’t think relationally.

    Reflective practice using a CAT framework, as described and demonstrated so well in this book, whether in relational to a patient-therapist relationship, team interactions, or wider organizational reverberations, detoxifies the matrix in which we work, helps us when we are struggling, keeps staff interested and healthy, enriches our interactions with patients, and helps us to achieve the two things that forensic services should be judged on – patient recovery and prevention of violence. Jenny Marshall and Jamie Kirkland have done a wonderful editorial job. The chapters are all written by experienced practitioners who have spent time and effort reflecting on and enacting ways to introduce reflective practice. They take you in journeys that weave together research, humanity, personal struggles and practice experience in an engaging way, so anyone who reads this book will be able to start thinking about how they implement reflective practice in their settings.

    If you are a clinician or manager in a forensic mental health service you have to read this book, it will make your treatment, services and patients’ lives better. If you want to get the relationships right – get this book.

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