Assisting vulnerable people to communicate
Many thanks to Nicola Lewis from London who has sent us this powerful blog. She has 2 roles – one as a Registered Intermediary with adults with learning disabilities and the other as a family mediator working with children.
I started work as an intermediary, assisting vulnerable people to communicate their evidence to the police and in court. I work with adults with a mild to moderate learning disabilities or mental health issues and with children. The Talking Mats tool has proved invaluable, initially as a rapport building exercise which enables me to build a connection with the person. At the same time I can assess their communication in an informal way. I notice that it is often a relief for those who don’t want to talk as they can just engage in moving the pictures around, without having to make eye contact or without having to speak.They do often start chatting, in spite of themselves as there are not many people who don’t like to talk about their likes, dislikes and preferences and to be heard about what is important to them. I use active listening: reflecting back what they say, summarising, reframing and a touch of humour if appropriate to build a connection, using the mat. When they see me the next time, they often remember me in connection with the Talking Mat:”oh yeah, we did that picture thing!”
I also work as a family mediator and have a specialist qualification enabling me to meet with the children of the family to discuss their wishes and feelings. Again, the Talking Mats tool is the first thing out of my bag and on the table. After working through likes and dislikes in a natural and informal way, I can then use the cards with the children and ask about “your family”, “where you live” etc to find out about how they are managing in a divorce situation and what they might want their parents to know about their feelings. Many mediators will only meet with older children. The Talking Mats tool has given me access to the thoughts of those as young as 5. They are at ease with me and there is a level of trust that did not exist when they entered the room.I have had 100% positive feedback from these meetings as a result.
Thanks for developing this amazing tool. It is incredibly useful to me in both my roles.
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