Special feature: Continuing Our Journey of Learning from Dr. Ann Cattanach

To the great sorrow of many of us around the world, Dr. Ann Cattanach passed away on November 6th, 2009. Dr. Cattanach was indeed the first lecturer to our annual play therapy training program instructed by invited trainers from abroad.

At the Wroxton Study Group in Britain, Dr. Akiko Ohnogi, board member of JAPT, gave a presentation on the “Present Situation of Play Therapy in Japan.” Dr. Cattanach, on hearing about the strong motivation of Japanese therapists for gaining higher knowledge and skills in play therapy, and the lack of opportunity to receive proper training in Japan, offered to come to Japan herself to create that opportunity.

This genuine offer from Dr. Cattanach set off what we have today, as it was from there we formed a small team, calling on many people and receiving various kinds of support, culminating in our seminar series where play therapists and trainees come together from all over Japan. When we think of Dr. Cattanach’s exceptional enthusiasm, our hearts are filled with our deepest gratitude.

In Japan, Dr. Cattanach’s lectures and workshops were filled with passion, humour and love, inspiring and encouraging the participants. Dr. Cattanach, too, was truly touched by the enthusiasm and quality of play therapists in Japan, and had promised to come back to Japan again to teach us. She acted as board advisor of our organization and continually gave us her support. So many of us were hoping to surely see her in Japan once more in the near future.We are filled with feelings of loss and sorrow, that our announcement had to be that of Dr. Cattanach’s passing, and not her next visit to Japan.

We are realizing anew the greatness of what Dr. Cattanach has passed on to us, and also how lucky we were to have met her even once. We hope to continue nurturing among ourselves, the spirit and lessons we learned from Dr. Cattanach, and to continue our journey in learning from her.

With such hope, as a special feature, we plan to share with others the gifts we received from Dr. Cattanach and continue to rediscover what she taught us. This message in posted in both English and Japanese, hoping that it could be shared with her family members who deeply love her, and with play therapists around the world.

Takako Yuno
President, JAPT

[ Ann Cattanach, MSc, Ph.D. ]
Ph.D. in play therapy research. Private practice in Scotland. Various lectures on play therapy and psychodrama in Scotland, England, Malaysia, Singapore, and the Netherlands. Full member of the British Association of Play Therapists. Visiting fellow at York University. Founder Graduate Diploma/MA in Play Therapy, Roehampton University. Child Care Consultant Therapist , Highland Social Services and elsewhere in the UK and overseas. Board Advisor of Japan Association for Play Therapy. Multiple publications including,“Introduction to Play Therapy”(Brunner-Routledge, 2003), “Narrative Approaches in Play with Children” (Jessica Kingsley Publishers, 2007).

Tribute to Dr. Ann Cattanach
Participants of the 2007 Summer Workshop undertaken by Dr. Ann Cattanach have sent us their thoughts on the precious moments shared together with her.
(During the workshop held in Japan, some participants called Dr. Cattanach, Ann-Sensei, and do so in the following messages. In Japanese, the word “Sensei” is used with respect when referring to a professional such as a teacher or a doctor. It is usually used together with one’s last name, but when expressing feelings of closeness or friendship, it can be used with the first name. Thus, people have expressed such feelings by calling her that way in these messages.)

“I had a dream about Ann-sensei last Friday. She was wearing a navy dress and with a mischevious smile said, “We’re done working for the day. Let’s all go have a drink!”. I think that was a scene from the last time I actually saw Ann-sensei on the last day of the workshops at the hotel. This made me wonder if anything had happened to her. I am extremely saddened that my premonition came true, however, I have come to the realization that, just as in this dream, Ann-sensei will always be in my heart as a kind and strong person who will forever support me. I am sad, but I am once again grateful that I had the opportunity to meet someone like Ann-sensei.”
Chiaki Kubo, AN Clinic

You were the first true “witch” that I had ever met in my life. Not only as a clinician, but as a human being, I was strongly attracted to you and wondered, “What is it like inside this person?” There was a strange feeling of something deep, spacious, fun, a little spooky, but at the same time comforting. Behind those sharp twinkling eyes, Ann-sensei, you were always smiling at us with warmth. That is why I think that your narrative therapy must be like living in a special time and place, as if in outer space, or in a dream. I envy the children who got to experience that, and I also want to become a clinician that can make that happen.
I had only one opportunity to meet you, but I will always treasure it. I will always keep it and cherish it.
Best wishes in Heaven. Thank you so much.
I also want to meet a fairy, So if you can, if you happen to see one, could you ask her to come to see me?
Yuu Terasawa

I sometimes thought about Dr. Ann Cattanach. My image was always of her driving along the countryside of Scotland in her car. Of course she has her toys and a carpet in her car, and she would knock on a client’s door. I wonder if she is doing the same in Heaven, too.
I learned from her the inner strength and loving care of the play therapist. I think that play therapists need unshakable inner strength particularly when conducting play therapy with abused children, because it is the play therapist’s inner strength that will become a model for the children who are trying to survive in spite of their overwhelming experiences. As to loving, I admired her deep understanding toward children’s grief and pain, and her enormous ability to enfold them in her arms.
Mayumi Seida

Publications by Dr. Ann Cattanach
Following are the main books written by Dr. Ann Cattanach. She has also contributed to many significant publications on play therapy and art therapy other than those listed here. When we go through her writings, we have the continued opportunity to gain necessary and significant insights that will guide us through our clinical experience.
We would like to introduce a message from Jessica Kingsley Publishers, a British publishing company that has a deep connection with Dr. Cattanach and has published most of her books. We are grateful to Jessica Kingsley for allowing us to introduce their message here for the Japanese readers.
[Message from Jessica Kingsley Publishers]
JKP first published Ann Cattanach’s work in the early 1990’s, by which time she was an established play therapist, confident in her ability to help young children who had suffered abuse, and knowing she wanted to share the skills she had. Play Therapy with Abused Children, published in 1993, was a profoundly moving book, and deeply affected everyone at JKP who worked on it. Without any hint of prurience, she took the reader into the lived experience of the abused child, and offered the professional reader wise paths to reaching and helping the child find healing and recovery. When I asked her how she could bear to do such costly work, and to hold such pain, she simply laughed and pointed to herself, and said `I eat’.
The experience of publishing such a book, and the example of the author who wrote it, was without doubt one of the key influences in how JKP went forward from there, and that the company identified itself so strongly as publishing and wanting to focus on publishing `books that made a difference’. Ann’s later books without question `made a difference’, and the people who worked with her at JKP continued to learn from her too. Her books were not only wise and sensitive, but intellectually rigorous, and asked a great deal of the reader – not so much in terms of understanding as of courage and integrity. It was a great personal pleasure when these were put forward for a PhD, just recognition for someone who had contributed enormously to her field. She will be very much missed.
Jessica Kingsley
November 2009

1993, Play Therapy with Abused Children (2008 second edition), UK , Jessica Kingsley Publishers
1994, Play Therapy : Where the Sky Meets the Under World, UK , Jessica Kingsley Publishers
1997, Children’s Stories in Play Therapy, UK , Jessica Kingsley Publishers
1999, Process in the Arts Therapies, UK , Jessica Kingsley Publishers
2002, The Story So Far: Play Therapy Narratives, UK , Jessica Kingsley Publishers
2003, Introduction to Play Therapy, New York , Brunner-Routledge
2006, Storywater, UK, Grosvenor House Publishing Limited
2007, Malpas the Dragon, UK , Jessica Kingsley Publishers
2007, Narrative Approaches in Play with Children, UK , Jessica Kingsley Publishers
2009, Play as Therapy: Assessment and Therapeutic Introductions (forwared by Ann Cattanach), UK , Jessica Kingsley Publishers

Workshops by Dr. Ann Cattanach
July 28, 2007
Support for Parenting Workshop “The Power of Play – Understanding the Child”

This workshop was held on the very first day of the first year in which the Japan Association for Play Therapy started to host its series of foreign guest speaker programs. The turn-out was very strong with more than 100 participants (Venue: Tokyo Womens’ Plaza main hall, 113 participants). It was an event where people who are presently undergoing parenting in Japan, and people who are supporting those who are parenting, listened to the guest speaker and took part in activities of the workshop.
We offered a chair to Dr. Ann Cattanach, but she said, “I want to stand and talk. I don’t need a chair” and remained standing throughout the workshop. She devoted herself entirely, as if she was trying not to waste even a minute or a second, in reaching out to each and every participant. Based on her principle, “To nurture good families, good children, and to create a good society”, she introduced us to actual cases and participatory hands-on activities, which made the workshop an unforgettable experience.
One of the experiential activities that Dr. Cattanach introduced to us went like this:

If you were a bird, what kind of bird would you like to be?
If you were a flower, what kind of flower would you like to be?
If you were an animal, what animal do you think you would be?
If you were a color, what color?
If you were a tree?
If you were a fruit?
If you were a fish?
If you were a vegetable?
If you were a car, what kind of car?
What kind of house?
What kind of music?

“Break up into pairs. Share each other’s worlds with your partners, what you chose and the reason why you chose it” said Dr. Cattanach.
The participants were surprised at first, but gave the task a go. The room was soon full of liveliness, just as Dr. Cattanach had hinted: “It’s important for both the parent and the child to be in this together. I bet you will experience fun and discovery.” One participant commented, “Her explanation was playful, and that’s why I was able to enjoy the whole workshop.”
What we had explained to Dr. Cattanach beforehand was the fact that the social situation in Japan today was much more complicated than before, and that that was one of the reasons behind the confusion that parents, and those who are supporting parents, were facing. We had asked her, “What is the essence of parenting? What should we keep in our minds when we are parenting, or supporting those who are parenting? We would like you to give us some key points.”
Dr. Cattanach’s reply went like this, “I have worked in many countries such as England and Ireland, and what is necessary in our work is for it to make sense in that certain culture. It is very important for you to discern whether what I tell you really fits your culture here in Japan.” She taught us how important it was for the care-taker or supporter to always try to imagine and make sense of the other person’s life and culture that s/he carries. At the same time, she also reflected on the importance for us to deepen our understanding of our own lives and our own cultures, and when listening to our clients, to listen proactively and to carefully examine whether what we are hearing makes sense to us.
Dr. Cattanach introduced to us cases of children in England whose parents were heavily addicted to narcotics, or who had experienced sexual abuse in their homes. Although participants were surprised to hear about these serious realities, their comments showed that the lecture had provided them with inspiration and various hints: “I understood the importance of a caring adult or a therapist to be there together with the child in the child’s imaginative world.” “The various cases shared to us were very interesting.” “I learned that it is not always necessary to forcefully connect the context of the child’s play to her/his reality.”
As was stated in the last comment, Dr. Cattanach does not try to unduly connect the child’s world of play to the child’s harsh experience in reality. If a child experiences some sort of abuse or is victimized in some way, s/he carries a past that is hurtful, confusing, and difficult to consciously face. By having an adult who is able to watch over and form a safe relationship, the child is given an opportunity to express his/her painful and confusing feelings about his/her past through play and fantasy. Through this process, the child tries to place his/her past experiences into order and to face his/her story. Dr. Cattanach also taught us that, through encouraging the child to make real life choices and showing him/her that “You are the one who can make choices about your life”, the hands of the clock of the victimized child’s life that had seemed to have once stopped, starts ticking again towards the future. This can be done without the adult having to unduly connect the child’s fantasy to his/her reality.
Dr. Cattanach has experienced so many meaningful experiences, that it seems almost impossible for just one person to have accomplished all of them. I believe that what she did was to place all those experiences and wisdom into a seed, and plant that seed into each and every one of us. Even though several years have passed since we said good-bye to Dr. Cattanach on the last day of that workshop, when participants of that workshop get together again, somebody starts saying, “Remember that activity we did at Dr. Cattanach’s workshop….” or “Remember that story she told us ….”. So many times do we have the experience when we are with a child, that we suddenly understand the meaning of something Dr. Cattanach had told us before. We experience this with a great sense of wonder. What we must not forget is that even in a child’s heart that has experienced pain, if an adult with this kind of belief and wisdom does not give up and continues to be with the child, that a seed may be planted, and may blossom in the future. The time we spent with Dr. Cattanach was very short, but what we learned was immensely deep.
Satoshi Kuzuu


Ann Cattanach, lecture for parents with interpretor and JAPT vice president Satoshi Kuzuu

first row: Kayoko Murase (Japanese Association of Clinical Psychology President), Ann Cattanach, Akiko Ohnogi (JAPT Director, lecturer); second row: Satoshi Kuzuu (JAPT Vice President), Takako Yuno (JAPT President), Judy McCormick (lecturer)

Ann Cattanach & Akiko Ohnogi on yakatabune

from left to right: Akiko Ohnogi, interpretor, Ann Cattanach, interpretor, Judy McCormick, case presenter

Ann Cattanach and interpretor

Ann Cattanach eating her favorite shrimp tempura

Senbazuru Prayers for Ann’s recovery Upon learning of Ann’s illness, I asked for volunteers from those who knew Ann from having attended her summer workshops the previous year, to make origami cranes to create a string of 1000 cranes (senbazuru 千羽鶴) for her. In Japan, there is a legend that folding a thousand origami cranes will grant a wish, and thus, when a person becomes ill, those who care about this person will create 1000 cranes and string them together and present it to the sick person, wishing for his/her recovery. Cranes are folded as they are one of the 3 mystical creatures and are said to live for a thousand years. About 30 people participated, and in about a month, the 1000+ cranes were made and strung and sent to Ann’s daughter Sarah, who took it to Ann’s hospital, where it was strung in her hospital room during her stay there. When I visited Ann last summer, she had the cranes strung in her bedroom, stating that they were one of the important items that helped her through the emotional and physical pain of the operation and treatment. Upon Ann’s death, Sarah placed the cranes in Ann’s coffin with her to accompany her to her next stage of being, recognizing that those cranes meant a lot to Ann during her courageous fight against cancer. (Akiko Ohnogi)

Senbazuru hanging in Ann’s bedroom in Edinburg

Ann Cattanach and Akiko Ohnogi at Ann’s house in Edinburg, June 2009 (4 months before Ann passed away)

Special feature: Continuing Our Journey of Learning from Dr. Ann Cattanach