Asking the right question with Talking Mats

top scale

Theme 1 from Talking Mats Seminar: How do we vary the top scale?

One of the key skills in using Talking Mats is getting the top scale to reflect the question that you are asking and to be consistent.


The following range of 3 point top scales have been suggested:

like – unsure – dislike

managing – need some help – not managing

very important – quite important – not important

really good at – getting better at – not good at

want – sometimes want – don’t want

calm – unsure – anxious

can do it myself – need a little help – need a lot of help

very easy – quite easy – hard

It was suggested that a way of dealing with a negative topic such as ‘anxiety’ or ‘pain’ was to use a quantitative top scale such as:

a little – some – a lot

Or you could ask what strategies make your pain

better – stays the same – worse

In some situations where the person has an acquired disability, it may be best to do 2 mats, one about liking and another about managing. It was suggested that adapting the mid point to reflect potential loss of skills might be useful:

like – like but can’t do it now – don’t like it

More recently we have found that the following wording works very well for lots of people and situations:

going well – sometimes – not going well


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