Intended for healthcare professionals


Anthony Ryle

BMJ 2016; 355 doi: (Published 08 November 2016) Cite this as: BMJ 2016;355:i6011

Creator of cognitive analytic therapy

Anthony Ryle was the creator of cognitive analytic therapy (CAT), a model of psychotherapy that has been taken up around the world.

His interest in mental health grew from his spending 15 years as an inner city GP; he gradually developed the model during the 1970s and 80s, first as director of the student health service at Sussex University, and subsequently as consultant psychotherapist at Guy’s and St Thomas’ hospitals in London. He published a steady stream of papers, chapters, and books on psychotherapy and CAT.

Improving mental health services

Ryle believed that many people with mental health problems were poorly served, often by approaches that did not fully address their lives as a whole, the impact of their early interpersonal relationships, and the therapist’s role in producing positive change. “Basically, the model was an attempt to synthesise and transform the valid, effective elements of a range of other models,” says Ian Kerr, a consultant psychotherapist, friend, and former colleague. “Tony did this brilliantly. He put them together in a time limited, user friendly package that could be employed effectively in the NHS for ordinary people. It was an extraordinary, creative, scientific, and humanitarian achievement—the culmination of a lifetime’s clinical and intellectual work.”

Cognitive analytic therapy is used to treat people with …

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