Mental Health – Using Talking Mats for organising and expressing thoughts
Many thanks to Georgia Bowker-Brady, Advanced Specialist SLT (Berkshire Healthcare Foundation Trust) for this latest guest blog.
I attended the Talking Mats training in June and I work in both dementia care and acute mental health in-patient services.
I had initially imagined that I would primarily be using the Talking Mats to support the dementia patients.
However I’ve been surprised to find that I have been increasingly using Talking Mats with functional patients and it has been a really positive tool when discussing with patients about their self-care, the care they are receiving in the hospital and opinions on discharge.
Due to their mental state, many of the patients may find it hard to organise and express their thoughts, and if patients are hypomanic it can be difficult for professionals to guide the topic to get meaningful information, but Talking Mats has really helped with this! It has also been pertinent in establishing patients’ insight levels and gaining better understanding of their impression of the current situation.
Here is a photo of one my mats from the psychiatric adult acute wards. This was for a patient who is severely low in mood and has relatively recently gone through a traumatic incident. The ward staff and OTs have had difficulty gathering any information about what she ordinarily enjoys doing in order find some activities to try and engage her with.
The staff stated that the patient would simply report she doesn’t enjoy anything and questions about what she used to enjoy received no answer. I went and did a joint session with the OT where I asked about what she enjoyed doing before this incident and we did the mat (see picture below) in a matter of minutes.
This can now provide a starting point for considering areas for trying to encourage some behavioural activation.
We then extended it by using an emotions wheel to ask how she felt about certain activities available in the hospital. We were able to establish that she felt fearful about trying new things and sad about carrying out certain activities she used to do prior to the incident.
It is wonderful to hear such a great example of Talking Mats in action – if you have any stories you would like to share, please get in touch with us at firstname.lastname@example.org