Cognitive Adaptation Training

Cognitive Adaptation Training (or CAT for short) is a therapy to help people with schizophrenia or a psychotic illness who experience difficulties carrying out daily living tasks due to the cognitive impairments associated with their illness.

What is Cognitive Adaptation Training?

  • Cognitive Adaptation Training (CAT) is a set of strategies that can help people in their recovery from serious mental illness.
  • It is an organized approach that uses environmental supports. It is based upon the idea that we can rearrange the environment and teach skills to help overcome the difficulties experienced by many people with schizophrenia.

How do these environmental supports help?

Environmental supports in CAT help to bypass problems with thinking and motivation that often get in the way of recovery.

Research (America) has shown that CAT is an effective way of assisting people with schizophrenia in the recovery process.

What outcomes can the person expect?

Cognitive Adaptation Training is used in the following areas

  • CAT can lead to individuals being more organised in their home environment thus promoting healthier living spaces.
  • It can lead to improvements in hygiene, including being dressed more appropriately, and feeling better about one’s appearance.
  • It can lead to taking medications independently and reducing symptoms of mental illness.
  • It can also help meet goals for having friends, being involved in leisure activities that bring enjoyment, and becoming involved in volunteerism or paid employment.
  • The participant usually chooses the area that they would prefer to work on.  Altogether, CAT can lead to people living more independently and having fuller lives.

What kinds of environmental supports are used and where?

These supports are integrated into the routines and living spaces and include a range of tools. Examples include

  1. Signs reminding you what to do.       
  2. Reminders and alarms to prompt you when its time to do it.
  3. Checklists for helping you complete daily activities.
  4. Schedules to help you organise your day.
  5. Pill containers to assist you in taking your medication regularly.
  6. Organisation of belongings (making sure everything has a place).


What is involved?


To start with there is a period of assessment. This involves:

  1. An assessment of your cognitive skills to identify your strengths and weaknesses
  2. An assessment of your home environment and your daily activities to identify possible areas that could be improved.

Setting Goals

When the assessments are completed, the next step is that you and your therapist set goals to work towards. You are an equal partner in this process and no goals will be set without your consent.


Your therapist has a manual that will help guide treatment and suggest solutions to practical problems that you may be             encountering.


As this form of therapy is new in Ireland we are researching the outcome.

Your therapist will give you more information on this process.