Tag Archives: Accredited training

Using Talking Mats in a Higher Education Career Guidance Setting

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One of the many ‘non-traditional’ uses of Talking Mats has been the work that has been undertaken with university students (both undergraduate & post graduate) at the University of Stirling. Since 2008, staff in the Career Development Centre at the University have been trained to use Talking Mats as a tool to help students to articulate their career thinking and planning.
We have established from our research and trialling of a range of topic cards that students respond well to the process. While the majority of the students we work with have no speech or language difficulties, the process of TM enables students to articulate their thoughts and to feel more at ease to raise particular issues. It can be very hard for students to talk openly about financial worries, academic issues, or career anxiety. TM gives a platform for this to be done in a non-threatening way and quickly allows the Careers Adviser to see where the student is ‘at’ in their thinking. This then allows the adviser to work more efficiently & effectively to support the student to develop their career plans /strategy.
Staff feedback would indicate that they enjoy working with TM in both one to one and group settings with students. There are many perceived advantages to using TM but one of the main ones is that it can make better use of the time available and that it can be a good way to see quickly where the key issues are that need to be addressed. TM also fits well with current Career Guidance Theory, allowing the student to narrate the ‘story’ and arrive at their own solutions to the ‘problem’ under discussion.
There are of course some students who do have additional learning needs and TM is again an ideal tool. In particular, students with dyslexia and dyspraxia comment positively that the visual aspect of the cards allows them to process the information and structure their thinking in a clearer way that just talking to a careers adviser can.
International students who sometimes have poor English language skills respond well to using TM as it allows us to get a clearer picture of the students thinking than sometimes is the case from a more ‘traditional’ discussion
Action Planning and Goal setting are a big part of the Career Management process and TM is a really useful tool to ‘kick-start’ this process for students. The visual impact is powerful and enables students to see clearly what they are considering and the cards allow the students to physically move the cards to help them to decide how to move forward in their thinking and planning. Students consistently comment that they appreciated the opportunity to see clearly the issues that they are considering and allow them to move forward.

Many thanks to Elaine Watson, Careers Adviser, University of Stirling and one of our accredited trainers for this stimulating description of how she is implementingTalking Mats

“Talking Mats – a way to find out about harm and abuse”

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My name is Karin Torgny, I’m from Sweden. My background is in journalism and culture studies. I used to work in “The Development Centre for Double Exposure” for many years, and our mission was to improve and spread knowledge about violence against women with disabilities. My special interest during these years was AAC. Today I work for Unicef and in different projects on human rights issues.

A year ago I did my accredited Talking Mats training in Stirling, Scotland. Since then I have given my first course in using Talking Mats when talking about abuse and harm. It was a great experience and an opportunity to work with an enthusiastic group of women who were open and willing to communicate using symbols. They are all in an organisation working with girls/women with intellectual disability exposed to violence and oppression in the name of honour.

I think Talking Mats is a good tool when approaching difficult subjects and I hope to run more courses like this in Sweden in the future. Lately I was interviewed on the Swedish Radio and talked about the use and possibilities with Talking Mats when someone is exposed to harm and abuse.

For those who know Swedish (!), here is a link to that program, http://t.sr.se/1mxZv9W

I am also curious if someone else is doing something similar. If so I would be interested to know more. Send an e-mail to: karin.torgny@gmail.com

Have a look at how Talking Mats has been used in Scotland to support people with a learning disability to disclose issues of concern: Survivor Scotland

Keep calm with Talking Mats and have a blether !  

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Congratulations to our 5 new accredited trainers from Edinburgh City Council , Lothian NHS, Perth Kinross Council and SENSE Scotland

We had a great two days working together, exploring the Talking Mats framework and thinking about skills in terms of training and implementation of the Mats. Lots of chat but some key thoughts emerged that are worth sharing

  • Keep calm with Talking Mats and have a blether
  • Talking Mats gives the thinker the power to say ‘No’
  • Open questions create open dialogue
  • Children do but don’t get enough time to say
  • Recap; Talking Mats provide a visual summary of the conversation
  • It is easy to feel drowned out by other voices Talking Mats keeps the focus on the person
  • It is good to have 1 to 1 time and not just when things go wrong
  • The health and being resource is a perfect fit for the outcomes focused approach

There were lots of exciting ideas for future projects and further blogs which will expand on these ideas a bit more. So watch this space as the new trainers develop their ideas more.

If you are interested in becoming an accredited trainer click here

A Psychologist’s thoughts on the accredited training course

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The following are thoughts from Jenni, a Psychologist who attended the Talking Mats Accredited training course.

‘Meeting with five colleagues from Sweden, England and various parts of Scotland for the accredited Talking Mats Training this month has been a fascinating experience. I have been accustomed to using Talking Mats with children and young people over the past seven years, and have seen the value of the approach in helping young people give their views for a meeting – particularly if they have communication difficulties and would struggle either through lack of confidence or skill to speak out when others are present.
However, we were not just a group who work with children and young people. Most came from health settings and examples were drawn from elderly patients, some with dementia, others with autism. As we shared our videos and told our stories it was obvious to me how relevant Talking Mats can be in those settings too. Some of the stories shook me. One person told how she was deep in conversation with a lady over her Talking Mat when the tea lady burst in, poured a cup of tea for the resident, asked if she was having a good time playing at puzzles, then left before any answer could be given. Time and again we found ourselves asking what is it about our institutions that puts routines above real communication and above proper respect for an individual.

In preparing a video to bring to the training I undertook a Talking Mat with my father, who is almost 90. It was a new kind of conversation for us both, but we were surprised – the structure allowed us to talk about what was going well and what needed a bit of an adjustment in domestic life and we both learned from the conversation. I think we will do it again!

Indeed, at one stage in the training we were asked to dream big and look at how we might want to take use of Talking Mats into new areas. I identified some good friends – one 91, one 101 and one 104 – where conversation can become rather one-sided. I am interested in the power of Talking Mats to help create a genuine dialogue when these friends are reminiscing, in other words, to help me to be not just a listener but to enter the dialogue. Having a record of the conversation will help us take the discussion further when we return to it.

As ever, the time spent with Talking Mats colleagues was refreshing, stimulating and I can’t wait to go home and try out some new ideas!’

Jenni Barr, Educational Psychologist

More thoughts on Talking Mats accredited training


Anthony capture

Thank you Joan and Sally for the fantastic hospitality and inspiring 2 day accredited  train the trainer course at Stirling university.

I cant wait to carry out our first session with all of the fabulous advice and support materials you have given us. Talking mats can reopen doors to communication that others may fear were closed for ever.

I was so lucky to meet a group of lovely people on the course, who also share the same enthusiasm for using Talking Mats. It is absolutely fantastic to be part of something that is world wide and getting bigger, long may you reign and long live Talking Mats.

Anthony Howe, Assessor/Tutor/Internal verifier
Training and Development Team, Adult Social Care
Tyne and Wear