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Talking mats are delighted to announce the new Talking Mats ’ Sexual health and relationships’ advanced seminar and resource which is now available to book.

Resource background and development

This resource has been developed in partnership with the REACH team in Perth and Kinross council. In her blog Let’s talk about sex: part one Julia Pollock, a speech and language therapist with this multidisciplinary team describes why this resource is much needed and how it has helped open up discussions on a subject that otherwise might be more challenging. Her second blog Let’s talk about sex: part two describes the impact that this talking mats resource has had on one young person as they navigate their way through  the criminal justice system and their sexual development from childhood to adult hood’

What is in the Talking Mats Sexual health and relationships resource ?

The resource has three topics:

  1. Sexual knowledge. This topic allows practitioners to explore what young people know. It also includes a sub mat of body parts to be used if more concrete options are required
  2. Being close. This topic explores the young person’s view of intimacy. It can be used to explore what they have experienced in relationships and or what they want.
  3. Sexual interests. This topic grew out of the Reach team’s focus on working with young people at risk of being involved in harmful sexual behaviour so it is to be used with care and is not appropriate for all thinkers. The options need to be personalised carefully.

Using this resource

From our piloting and testing phase this Talking Mats sexual health and relationship resource has been found to be very helpful for those working in this field but, it needs to be used with sensitivity and care. The options and images that we have developed are clear but are sometimes explicit. It is for this reason that this resource is not going to be available on our digital platform. It is important that practitioners using the resource are aware of the issues and think carefully about which topics and options are helpful for the young person they are working with before presenting them. Practitioners using this resource  need to work in a context that enables the young person to access any ongoing support for issues that may arise.

Accessing this resource

To access this resource, you need to:

  1. Have completed the Talking Mats foundation course.
  2. Be familiar with your organisation’s child protection and adult support and protection procedures
  3. Be clear about why you are using this resource and for what purpose for example to explore sexual relationships in general or to open up discussions about harmful sexual behaviour. You need to be experienced enough to be able to adapt the resource for those different contexts.
  4. Book onto our advanced seminar which we are hosting on the 18th of September 1:00 PM to 3:00 PM in conjunction with the REACH multidisciplinary team. This seminar allows for the context, challenges, risks and benefits of using the resource to be fully explained. This will include best practice examples and impact stories. It will give you the opportunity to explore the resource further and to ask any questions. The cost is £80 per participant and this covers the resource and the seminar.

Click here to book your place on this Advanced seminar. Places will be limited so make sure to book soon. Resources will be posted out the week before the seminar.

Our thanks for this blog go to Olivia Ince, Talking Mats Licenced Trainer and Speech & Language Therapist. This blog post reflects on the use of a Talking Mat with a Thinker called M who speaks English as an additional language. The Listener in this Talking Mat is Jono Thorne who is a colleague of Olivia. Jono did this Talking Mat for his video as part of a Foundation Training course run by Olivia.

M is a young adult who came to the UK as an unaccompanied asylum-seeking child. M is from a country in Central Africa and speaks a language which is not widely spoken outside of the region. Accessing interpreting and translation services in the UK for their native language is very difficult and M has therefore had difficulties learning English. This means the people around M often have difficulties finding out M’s views, which is why Jono thought a Talking Mat could be an invaluable communication tool for M.

M already uses some visual support, for example hand gestures and using objects such as food items when having a conversation in the kitchen. The people around M are unsure what M’s level of comprehension is in English and therefore they make adaptions such as simplifying their language. M’s expressive language in English is typically the use of one- or two-word utterances and yes/no responses. 

To see if M would be able to engage with the Talking Mat process, Jono chose a simple topic to start with and one which he knew would interest M: food. The Top Scale used was like/unsure/ don’t like. Jono noted that M quickly understood the concept of the Talking Mat and the visual element seemed to support M’s understanding. The Talking Mat process including the side-by-side listening also facilitated rapport building.

Jono noticed that M was decisive and seemed certain about their placement of the option cards. The Talking Mat helped M to share their views on a larger number of items than would likely have been possible via a verbal conversation. M also joined in with the recap of their Talking Mat as part of the review and reflect by reading out the Option cards with Jono, which meant M was even more involved with the process.

There were a couple of difficulties for M during the Talking Mat process: the blanks and the option to change where the Option cards were placed. Jono tried to explain these steps using simple language but M did not appear to understand these concepts due to their level of comprehension of English. As M had seemed sure of their initial placement of the Option cards and they joined in with the recap, Jono felt that the Talking Mat was an accurate reflection of M’s views that day. Continuing to model these steps to M will likely help them to develop their understanding of these parts of the Talking Mats process over time.

Jono reflected on how useful it was to now know which foods M likes and doesn’t like. He also reflected on the potential future use of Talking Mats with M on more complex topics and to facilitate participation in decision-making now that it’s clear M understands how a Talking Mat works.

If you are interested in completing Talking Mat Foundation Training, you can read more about it here.

We are pleased to share a new blog from Talking Mat Associate, Jess Lane, as part of a 2-part series on the use of Talking Mats within Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS).

In Part 1, Jess described how Talking Mats can provide children with a safe space to explore topics that they might otherwise feel unable to communicate about, in a way that is highly supportive, sensitive and impactful. Check it out here:

In Part 2, Jess reflects on the use of Talking Mats by all members of the multidisciplinary team. We also hear from Nikki Low, Specialist Occupational Therapist, who reflects on her use of Talking Mats in the acute mental health setting.

Later in the blog, Jess explores how Talking Mats can be used as part of a post-diagnostic package of support for autistic children to support more focussed, strengths-based conversations, in line with the core principles of neurodiversity affirming practice.

A Multidisciplinary Approach

Welcome back to my 2-part series on the use of Talking Mats within CAMHS. In Part 1, I described how the implementation of Talking Mats by all members of the multidisciplinary team has transformed the way children are supported in the acute mental health setting. I have since reflected with clinicians from across Speech and Language Therapy, Nursing, Psychiatry, Dietetics, Occupational Therapy, Physiotherapy and Psychology on how Talking Mats continue to be used on CIPU to facilitate the direct and meaningful involvement of children in care planning, and to facilitate equity of access to therapeutic intervention.

Nikki Low reflects on using Talking Mats in her role as a Specialist Occupational Therapist:

I am a Specialist Occupational Therapist working in a Psychiatric Inpatient Unit with children under 12, many of whom, in addition to their mental illness, have an intellectual disability, are neurodivergent and/or have experienced complex trauma. This can make meaningful interactions about thoughts and feelings challenging or even impossible, particularly when discussing sensitive topics.

We strive to provide a client centred approach to care and treatment for our young patients but this can be difficult when they are unable to express themselves. Talking Mats has revolutionised our approach with these children. It has proven to be a powerful tool, transforming communication experiences for individuals of all abilities. I have used Talking Mats to engage patients in assessments and to formulate their treatment goals. Its user-friendly design, customisable features and positive impact make it an invaluable resource in the care and treatment of our vulnerable young patients.

As a unit, we have rolled out training to all core staff in order that we can incorporate Talking Mats into our practice. By doing this, we have been able to facilitate more inclusive and person-centred interactions, ultimately fostering a more supportive and empowering environment for all involved.”

Implementing Talking Mats across a whole staff team has increased the capacity and capability of clinicians to routinely involve children in decisions pertaining to their care. It has also contributed to a culture whereby Talking Mats are considered at each stage of a child’s admission, to support assessments of capacity and mental state, medication reviews, engagement with advocacy services and participation in all multidisciplinary team meetings and case conferences.

Post-Diagnostic Support

Most recently, I have used Talking Mats as part of a post-diagnostic package of support for autistic children, to support more focussed, strengths-based conversations around what it means to be autistic. This has involved developing a symbol set based on SIGN guidelines and associated resources, to support children who have recently been diagnosed as autistic, to engage in a conversation about what would be helpful for them to know.

When presented with a Top Scale of Helpful, Not Sure, Not Helpful, children were able to share their opinion on a range of options, including (but not limited to): facts and figures, autistic famous people, links to other work, skills, strategies and resources. An example is provided below. From this, I was able to create a personalised information pack for each child, based on what they would (and would not) find helpful to know about autism.

Mock mat to illustrate how Talking Mats can support conversations with children about what they would (and would not) find helpful to know about autism

Most children shared that it would be helpful to find out about autistic famous people. This provided the foundation for a follow-up conversation about identity. Some children shared that they would find it helpful to find out about incidence and prevalence figures. Others did not. This was reflected in their information packs. For children who shared that they would like to understand how being autistic might impact, or otherwise feed into, therapeutic work for anxiety, I worked with colleagues from across Psychology and Nursing to ensure this was accurately reflected in their information packs.

Using a Talking Mat to scaffold conversations about what it means to be autistic has been well received by other clinicians involved in providing post-diagnostic support. By providing children with an opportunity to identify exactly what they would like to know about autism, clinicians have been able prioritise areas of support and signpost to the most relevant resources. This speaks to legislation that calls for the greater involvement of patients in decision making, in line with the mantra: no decision about me, without me.

Anecdotally, I have found that using Talking Mats as part of a post-diagnostic package of support has made a significant contribution to the development of a more streamlined, relevant and person-centred approach to sharing information. Using Talking Mats in this way has provided children with a dedicated space to voice their opinion on a topic that they might not have previously inputted into, that has been actively listened to and directly acted upon.

It is hoped that in sharing how Talking Mats can be used as part of a post-diagnostic package of support, this blog might encourage others to consider how they might achieve similarly positive outcomes for children with other diagnoses.  If you have used Talking Mats as part of a post-diagnostic package of support for children or adults, I would love to hear from you! Please do get in touch at

Our thanks for this blog go to Deborah Little, Speech and Language Therapist; Clinical Lead for AAC & Total Communication (Children and Young People) NHS Dumfries and Galloway.

“Can we do a Talking Mat today Deborah?  This is the question I am asked as soon as I enter the Learning Centre in one of our local schools by an enthusiastic 8 year old who has been exploring what completing a Talking Mat (TM) is all about this term.  While we are in the early stage of this school’s TMs journey, the impact of embedding the approach into the fabric of how Children and Young People (CYP) are supported to communicate in school is already proving transformative.

Article 12 of The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) guarantees children the right to express their views and opinions freely in all matters affecting them.  The responsibility of ensuring children experience this right is also underlined in NICE guidelines (2022) that state: “Education, health and social care practitioners should always: put the life goals and ambitions and preferences of the disabled child or young person with severe complex needs at the centre of planning and decision making.”

Working with my teaching colleagues within one Additional Support Needs (ASN) setting this year, we reflected on how effectively the CYP were able to give their views and how consistently these views were acted upon in meaningful ways.  We felt that this was an area we really wanted to improve upon and specifically we wanted to explore the following key questions in our minds:

  • How can we support CYP’s understanding of their right to give their views and opinions?  We reflected that for some CYP, their experience of being able to do this was very limited and that their understanding of using a TM was not yet at a stage where they were able to represent their views.  We therefore wanted to prioritise finding out what helped these CYP to use TMs with understanding.
  • How can we support CYP to know that they can tell us they aren’t happy about something?  We reflected that during ‘Emotions Works’ discussion times many of the CYP routinely shared that they felt ‘happy.’  It was rare for the CYP to talk about unhappy feelings.  We felt worried that the CYP often gave responses that they felt would be ‘right’ or pleasing to adults.
  • How can we ensure we create a culture of prioritising time and space for CYP to share their views, opinions and ideas?  We thought about opportunities throughout the school week that would create space and motivation for the CYP to engage with TMs.  We wanted to achieve a feeling of TMs being integral to the everyday, as opposed to a sporadic ‘add on.’

To answer these questions, we agreed on the following key change ideas to implement and evaluate:

Developing understanding of the Talking Mats process linked with familiar learning opportunities.

Dynamic Assessment is an approach familiar to those working with CYP who use Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC).  Adapting activities dynamically, being responsive to CYP’s progress, allows progressive skill enablement.  Together with teaching colleagues, we applied this thinking to helping the children use TMs with understanding.  If we had tried having a conversation using TM only a couple of times, our evaluation could have been that TMs wasn’t yet a tool we could use because for example, the CYP were putting all their symbols into the ‘I’m happy with this’ column only.  Instead, we thought “OK, that’s where the CYP are now, let’s give them opportunities to practise engaging with this new tool and time to develop using the approach with understanding.”  Put another way, we prioritised another key concept within the field of AAC: we Presumed Competence.  We believed that the CYP had the ability to share their thoughts, feelings and ideas if we introduced TMs gradually, linking with the activities above, that were tangible and familiar to the thinkers.

Consciously modelling that is OK to have negative feelings and opinions.

When a CYP is learning what might be possible in terms of communicating with AAC, best practise is for supporting adults to model the AAC.  This means, adults ‘use AAC to teach AAC.’  We show CYP that we highly value the AAC and want to use it too.  We use it in real situations, modelling vocabulary to help CYP understand the symbolic vocabulary and how they can begin to use it too.  When helping the CYP understand how TMs could help them express a wider range of emotions, we tried out using this approach. Now and again, supporting adults would share with the CYP how they were feeling about things using TMs and would include negative feelings. 

One CYP had a memorable response to my sharing that I was feeling “not happy” with my cat.  The CYP’s eyes widened and he became instantly animated, using his AAC to ask “cat..bad..what?”  I was able to explain that my cat had been scratching my carpets and I was feeling upset about this.  The CYP then used his AAC to say “cat…dig!”  He pointed at the ‘not happy’ symbol in the Talking Mats top scale, jointly sharing his attention to this symbol and understanding of what this meant with me.  The next week, we used TMs to ask this young person about a social group he had attended.  For the first time, we noticed him ‘swithering’ across his top scale while making his choices.  Also for the first time, I was confident that he shared his authentic feelings with me.  I reflected on the power of modelling and normalising feelings that are ‘not happy.’

So, where are we now?  The key themes from our findings after a year of using TMs as described above are:

In summary, using TMs in this setting has all supporting practitioners in agreement that it is not only important to listen to CYP when we know they might be having a tough time; we need to create space to listen all of the time, week to week, with authenticity and without agenda.  The principles regularly used within AAC practice of: modelling, presuming competence and dynamic assessment have been effective in supporting more children to be able to experience their UNCRC Article 12 Right, more of the time and with increased understanding and confidence.


  • UN Convention on the Rights of the Child – UNICEF UK
  • NICE Guidelines [NG213] (2022) Disabled Children and Young People up to age 25 with severe complex needs: integrated service delivery and organisation across health, social care and education.
  • Emotion Works
  • Daneshfar, S and Moharami, M (2018) Dynamic Assessment in Vygotsky’s Socioculturaly Theory: Origins and Main Concepts.  Journal of Language Teaching and Research 9(3):600
  • Donnellan, A (1984) The Criterion of the Least Dangerous Assumption.  Behavioural Disorders, 9 (2), 141-150
  • Sennott, Light and McNaughton (2016) AAC Modelling Intervention Research Review.  Research and Practice for Persons with Severe Disabilties 41 (2)

Talking Mats is available both as a physical resource and as a digital web-app. In this blog, our Digital Lead, Mark, gives an update on some exciting recent developments on our Digital Talking Mats platform.

It’s been over 2 years since we launched our new Digital Talking Mats platform, and we’re so pleased that more and more of the Talking Mats community continue to discover how it can be used to improve conversations in a wide range of contexts and situations.

We’re always looking for ways to improve the user experience of Digital Talking Mats, and over the last couple of years we have so appreciated the feedback given by Talking Mats customers  who have been using the platform.

This feedback has led to plenty of tweaks and updates behind the scenes, but in this blog I want to highlight some updates we have recently implemented, which we hope will improve the experience for those using our digital platform, and also let you know about what upcoming features are in the pipeline. 

Grouping and Deleting Thinkers

Users can now create groups/categories for their Thinkers, and organise them in a way that is most helpful for their context. Whether it is school classes, hospital wards, or care homes, for example, users can choose what to name the groups, and how many Thinkers are in each group.  

As well as creating Thinker groups, users now have the option to delete any Thinker from their list. This may be a former patient, a Thinker from a previous job, or simply a Thinker that was used to test out the digital platform.

Sharing Personalised Mats

For users who are Talking Mats trained and are part of a Digital Talking Mats Organisational Subscription, we’re excited to say that personalised Mats that have been created can be shared with other members of your organisation. This means that if you work in a specialist department and require a bespoke mat for your context, one member of your department can create a personalised Mat, and share with every member on the subscription.

Upcoming Feature: Private Resources

At Talking Mats, we often do consultancy projects with organisations, to create specialist Resources for specific contexts. Sometimes these Resources end up for sale in our shop, for example, our Funeral Planning, Careers, Work & Employment, and Youth Justice Resources.

In other cases, an organisation may wish to have exclusive access to a Talking Mats Resource produced as part of a consultancy. This is easily achieved with physical resources, but has so far not been possible in the context of the digital platform. With the upcoming private resources feature, we will be able to upload a resource and grant access only to a specific organisation.

At Talking Mats, we are committed to continually developing and improving our digital product for customers. If you have any feedback, or any ideas for improvements we can explore in the future, please get in touch with us at

If you are interested in Digital Talking Mats for yourself or your organisation, you can read more about the platform here. We have subscriptions available from as little as £5 per month and you can see the available options in our shop here.  

Do you work with people with intellectual disabilities and / or autism?

Researchers at the University of Hertfordshire have been working with Talking Mats to develop a range of symbols to help people with intellectual disabilities and/or autism to communicate symptoms of long Covid. It is hoped that these symbols will help facilitate conversations and improve accessibility to long Covid service pathways and improve health outcomes.

There are three topics that have been developed:

  1. Symptoms  – This Topic uses a suggested Top Scale of I have / I sometimes have / I don’t have. Options in this topic include heart going fast , dizziness , brain fog.
  2. Mood – This Topic uses a suggested Top Scale of This is me / This is sometimes me / This not me. Options in this topic include frustrated, not interested, confident
  3. Getting Help – This Topic supports you to discuss how supported the individual feels and where their key supports are coming from. A suggested Top Scale is Going well / Unsure / Not going well. Options in this Topic include GP, online/phone support, specialist team.

This Talking Mats resource was developed in partnership with a group of people with intellectual disabilities and people with autism alongside a range of health professionals. People who had lived experience of long Covid were also involved in the group. 

Participate and use the resource

We would like to hear from a wider cohort of practitioners working with people who have learning disabilities. For example, nurses, speech and language therapists and occupational therapists. We want to know if there is a need for this long Covid Talking Mats resource. This resource can also be used where long Covid has not been formally diagnosed but you want to listen to the person with a learning disability and hear about their experience of their long-term health condition.

If you  would like to participate, and meet the following criteria, we would love to hear from you.


1. Have completed Talking Mats Foundation Training course.  

2. Work in a setting supporting people with intellectual disabilities and/or autism.

If you would like to get involved, please complete the following survey by the end of April 2024.

Click here for the Long Covid Survey

Please note that should you consent to be involved in this project, your information will be shared with the University of Hertfordshire.

The team will be looking for feedback by the end of July 2024 and you will be asked to fill in a short survey for each Talking Mat that you complete . This survey will be sent to you alongside the long Covid resource.

If you have any questions about this, please do not hesitate to contact

Our thanks for this guest blog go to Meredith Smith, Paediatric Physiotherapist and Lecturer in Physiotherapy in the School of Allied Health Science and Practice at the University of Adelaide. In this blog, Meredith talks about the development of a Talking Mats resource to facilitate self-reporting in pain assessments for children and young people with cerebral palsy.

Our research team has been working on modifying pain assessment tools so they are more appropriate, relevant and accessible to children and young people with cerebral palsy (CP). People with CP have varying functional, communication and cognitive abilities, which makes existing assessment tools (often pen and paper questionnaires) difficult to use across the spectrum of ability. As a result, children and young people with CP often don’t have the opportunity to self-report how pain is impacting their function.

We are based in Australia and our team is made up of physiotherapists, an occupational therapist, a medical practitioner, researchers and people with lived experience of CP. One of the first things we did as part of this project was to ask people with lived experience of CP and clinicians what we could do to make two specific pain assessment tools more accessible and relevant to people with CP and different abilities. One of the clinicians (a speech pathologist), suggested we consider a Talking Mat alternative for each of the assessment tools. These two assessments focused on two concepts – 1) how pain interferes with function and 2) pain-related fear. We were keen to focus on these assessments as this would help us to not only open up a conversation about pain with children and young people with CP, but would also provide us with a way of identifying children who might benefit from particular pain interventions, and allow us to monitor the effectiveness of these interventions.

Prior to this suggestion I had heard of Talking Mats but never used it. Our research team underwent Talking Mats foundation training which was excellent, and we were all really impressed with the concept and its application in varying contexts. We had initially thought that we might need a Talking Mat to get feedback from children on the assessment tools, but we all agreed that converting the pain assessment itself into a Talking Mat would make the most sense for now.

Working with the Talking Mats team was a fantastic experience. We all really appreciated the expertise of the consultants in considering how we worded some of the assessment tool items. The symbols created were also excellent, and when we tested them with children and young people with CP they were simple and easy to understand.

Here is an example of a Talking Mat discussing pain interference with function. The lead in phrase is ‘how much does pain get in the way of……’. This Talking Mat was easily understood by most children with CP, even those with moderate cognitive impairment and complex communication needs.

A Talking Mat discussing pain interference with function

The second Talking Mat looked at pain related fear, with the lead in phrase ‘pain makes me……’. This was a more challenging and abstract concept, but was much easier to explore using the mat than on a standard pen and paper questionnaire. The Talking Mat versions can be interpreted as a 5-point response scale (the three response options and then two in-between sections), allowing us to still total an overall score for the assessment.

A Talking Mat looking at pain related fear

The feedback from children, young people and their families has been very positive. Families of children with cognitive impairment or complex communication needs have shared with us that previously it was assumed that their child could not self-report pain, and often they were asked to proxy-report on their behalf. Parents have told us how difficult it is to proxy-report on personal concepts such as pain-related fear, and that they couldn’t possibly know for certain how pain was making their child feel.

We are in the process of continuing to test the Talking Mats resource and look forward to making the it more widely available in the future.

Keep an eye on our website for more information about the Pain Assessment Resource as this project progresses.

If you are interested in completing Talking Mats Foundation Training, you can find out more here.

Our new digital platform with enhanced features

Talking mats have been researched and developed over a period of more than 20 years. Initially Talking Mats developed as a paper based communication framework but there was always much interest in having it as a digital resource so our first digital Talking Mats platform was released in 2012.  

In the years since its release the Talking Mats digital platform has helped thousands of people who otherwise would find it challenging to express how they feel, but with the discontinuation of Flash player the opportunity to create a new web-app presented itself. We are delighted to say that it is here! Combining it with the new website means that we are able to include many of the features that our customers have wanted, including the ability to:

  • Add and save photos
  • Personalise conversations by adding symbols from other sets
  • Create and save your own personalised mats ( provided you are foundation trained )
  • Think through and order your Talking Mats conversation
  • Change and select an appropriate Top Scale
  • File your thinker’s mat in an easy to retrieve manner
  • Easily carry out remote Talking Mats conversations

Our Digital Support Officer, Mark, is here to take you through the headlines of the new app, as well as some useful information for existing users.

In a nutshell

The new Digital Talking Mats (DTM) is a subscription-based web app which is access via our new look website It contains all the Talking Mats resources currently available to purchase to ensure that it can be used in as many different contexts to help as many different people as possible.

The subscriptions

We wanted to ensure that there was a DTM subscription for everyone. To that end, there are three different levels of individual subscription (starter, enhanced, complete) which can be renewed on a monthly or annual basis. There is also a licence specifically for organisations which offers the chance to have multiple users tied to an organisation, all at ‘complete’ level.

Once you have signed up for a subscription, you can easily see the details in the ‘subscriptions’ section of your account.

Existing Digital Talking Mats customers

If you had access to version 1 of the digital Talking Mats please keep an eye on your inbox as you will be getting an email giving you access to the new version . If you do not receive such an email please get In touch with us.

App Features and How to Use Them

Once you have subscribed and accessed the app, there is immediately a helpful video which tells you all you need to know about how to use the app. This includes setting up a new thinker, creating a new Talking Mat with the symbols of your choice, and how to view snapshots of previous sessions you have carried out.

Technical Tips


All browsers are equal, but some are more equal than others. Our app is optimised for Google Chrome, but will also work on Firefox and Microsoft Edge. Internet explorer is not supported. It is a good idea to make sure your browser is as up to date as possible for the best user experience. Mor detailed information on browser compatibility is available here

Offline Functionality

We recognise that internet is not always available in homes, schools or many other places, and so it is very important to us that the app works offline. Unfortunately due to the fact it is till relatively fresh, the app will not work offline yet, but rest assured this feature is in the pipeline. One option in the meantime is to use a device that can hotspot (most smartphones will have this feature) and carry out a Talking Mat online.

App Navigation

When you are navigating from page to page in the app, it is actually creating overlays on a single web page. This means that when you are in the app, if you press the ‘back’ button on your browser, it will take you out of the app completely.

If you have any questions about the Digital Talking Mats platform or you are interested in learning more, you can get I touch with Mark at

Many thanks to Natalie Paris, CashBack 180 Project Lead for our latest guest blog.  Natalie shares some powerful examples of how Talking Mats has helped her to open up conversations with the young people she works with:

I joined Y2K Mayfield and Easthouses Youth 2000 Project  in February 2018 as a sessional worker looking to gain practical experience in youth work, I then became Part Time Young Women’s worker at Y2K, which gave me experience in working with vulnerable young women in Midlothian across an age range of 11 to 24, some with mild to moderate learning difficulties.  When I first heard about the 180 project, I knew it was something I really wanted to be involved with, as I have always been interested in Criminology and Youth Offending.

In September 2018 I became the full-time 180 Project Lead, and have helped to shape and develop our  CashBack 180 Project. CashBack 180 is a referral-based service, focusing on early support and prevention for young people involved in or at risk of becoming involved in offending, anti-social and risky behaviours. 

The Project:

We work with young people to make positive changes in order to work towards more positive futures. Young people accessing this service have the opportunity to take part in fun, participative and educational programmes of activities as well as 1:1 supports. The CashBack180 programme is delivered at Y2K, but we can also deliver programmes within High Schools.

CashBack 180 offers a menu of options and has adapted where necessary for our journey through the pandemic.

  • 1:1 supports
  • Groupwork programmes
  • Community outreach support through detached youth work

Case Example 1:

A 12-year-old girl had been referred to me for violence, as she had attacked a girl in the playground, which was out of character for her.  She was very uncomfortable in the 1 to 1 session, so I used a Talking Mat. This made the conversation flow more naturally.

I used the Relationships topic, with the top scale ‘going well/okay/not going well’.  This helped me get more information. I found out that most of the issues she was having were around peer relationships.  For example, friends saying things that weren’t true, and not being believed by others in her friendship group.  This allowed me to plan a session around what is healthy and unhealthy in friendships.

Case Example 2:

I was working with a 14-year-old care experienced boy, who had been referred to me for Anti-social behaviour, and because he was easily led.  Once I got to know this boy a little better, I realised that he did not have much support within his family, apart from his older brother who he lives with now.  I realised he was someone who had just learned to cope himself, and probably didn’t have many people to turn to when worried about things.  I thought coping would be a good topic for a Talking Mat, as he always said things were fine, but I didn’t feel it was the full truth.  I used the top scale ‘going well/okay/not going well’. This gave us the opportunity to discuss healthy and unhealthy coping mechanisms that he had and what he could do instead.

Case Example 3:

I was working with a 12-year-old care experienced boy, who had been referred to me due to his inappropriate sexualised language and reference to sexual experience.  He has been out Mainstream school for 1 year, so had missed P7 sex education.  I decided to start working on friendships and relationships over the first couple of weeks with him, to get an understanding of what he knew was acceptable in relationships.  I used the Relationships Topic with the top scale ‘Going well/Okay/Not going well’.  The Talking Mat helped me keep his attention for a little longer than usual, as he is a very chaotic young person and often gets up and walks about, or jumps on tables and pretends to be sleeping.  It also showed me that he felt quite happy but was missing his friends from where he used to live. We are now looking at ways to address this.

Follow this link to Find out more about this project:

180 Service – Mayfield and Easthouses Youth 2000 Project

If you are feeling inspired and would like to know how you can access Talking Mats training, find out more here:

We are looking forward to our second Talking Mats Twitter chat on Thursday 10/12/20 7.30 – 8.30pm.

Join us to discuss and celebrate our new report ‘Can Scotland Be Brave’, which has a specific focus on children and young people’s participation.  Find out more about the report here

The report will be launched by the Scottish Government on the same day, to coincide with Human Rights Day 2020.

Here are the questions we will be asking:

CYP Chat Q1

CYP Chat Q2

CYP Chat Q3

Grab a cuppa – or better still, a mulled wine and mince pie! – and join us to share experiences and ideas.

Remember to use the hashtag #TimeToTalkTM on all your posts!