In the first of a 2 part blog Larissa, our new Intern, introduces herself and our new Youth Justice Resource and gives information on a Talking Mats seminar at the end of April to mark the launch.
My name is Larissa, I am a fourth year Psychology bachelors’ student at the university of Stirling and currently working on the launch of the Youth Justice Resource with Talking Mats as part of my work placement this year. Having enjoyed studying modules such as Language and the Brain and Developmental Psychology at university, I find the products Talking Mats have developed fascinating and love reading about in which ways the mats have helped people communicate in different situations.
I believe by adding the mats into any conversation -and especially around difficult or abstract topics- it can really open a two-way street of conversation. Instead of a person feeling they are being talked to, they are being asked to join the conversation, interact and show using the mats what they think. This can be beneficial for users who experience difficulty around communicating but also offer structure to any kind of conversation.
Especially in the context of Youth Justice I think this will be useful as having conversations about topics linked to a young person’s behaviour is fundamental to delivering appropriate and effective care. Conversations about difficulty in one’s personal life can be quite challenging. There are often delicate topics, the person might feel ashamed or find it hard to put into words what they have experienced or what they are feeling. This is where the use of Talking Mats can offer a less threatening way to broach a variety of topics and provide a structure to support conversation
The symbols in this set will help users communicate their experiences and how they feel about relationships, places and spaces and their experience with Youth Justice and was developed with a Youth Justice setting in mind. However, there is clearly a much wider use for this resource in any setting where understanding a person’s behaviour based on their experience and feelings is vital to determining the best form of support.
So, save the date! To celebrate the launch of this new set Talking Mats is having a web-seminar on the 28th of April 2022 at 9:30am after which the resource launches on the website. Come along to find out all about this new set, its uses and how it has helped Justice Practitioners so far. We would like to invite everyone who is interested to sign up on Eventbrite following this link:
Furthermore, please feel free to get in contact with us should you have any questions.
Many thanks to Claire Wiseman & Ann Lafferty from The Advocacy Project (Scotland) for this guest blog, including a great example of how Talking Mats helped a young woman with learning disabilities and psychosis share her views about being in hospital, receiving medical treatment and her preferences in respect of future post discharge welfare decisions:
For some time, The Advocacy Project have been thinking about how we could use the Talking Mats Framework to support people going through legislative processes such as the Mental Health (Care and Treatment) (Scotland) Act 2000, Adults with Incapacity (Scotland) Act 2000 and the Adult Support and Protection (Scotland) Act 2007.
Recently the Mental Welfare Commission published a best practice guidance on Supported Decision Making – https://www.mwcscot.org.uk/good-practice/guidance-advice, which we referred to as part of our presentation for the recent Talking Mats is 21 celebrations (click here to see the presentation Talking Mats and Supported Decision Making PP 2 (1)). The feedback from this session was that ‘yes’ there is a need for symbols to support legislation. As accredited trainers, we’ve also been asked when we’re delivering training to lawyers, Mental Health Officers, Social Workers, support workers and other advocacy organisations if there are specific symbols related to Supported Decision Making, particularly with regard to legislative issues.
Here is one of the Supported Decision Making and Talking Mats examples shared in our presentation:
One of our staff supported a young woman with a learning disability who was thought to be experiencing a psychotic episode. She had been detained in an in-patient learning disability unit under the Mental Health (Care and Treatment) (Scotland) Act 2003 on a Short Term Detention Certificate. The clinical team then made an application for a Compulsory Treatment Order, which was granted. Later, when discharge planning was in progress, an application for Welfare Guardianship was made under the Adults with Incapacity (Scotland) Act 2000.
Although the young woman was able to communicate verbally, the effects of the psychosis combined with her learning disability meant that her conversation was discursive and she was very easily distracted. Using a combination of Talking Mats and our additional symbols over a number of sessions, the advocacy worker managed to ascertain her views about being in hospital, receiving medical treatment and her preferences in respect of future post discharge welfare decisions.
The Talking Mats reports were submitted as evidence at two mental health tribunal hearings and the Welfare Guardianship hearing at the sheriff court. We received positive feedback from the Curator Ad Litem, Mental Health Officer and Sherriff regarding the reports as they had never had Talking Mats reports submitted before during these proceedings.
The use of Talking Mats had been instrumental in supporting the young woman to put forward her views and ensuring an outcome she was happy with.
Going forward, Talking Mats and The Advocacy Project will be exploring the possibility of a symbols set for Supported Decision Making and legislation. We are currently looking at funding possibilities.
A fantastic example of the power of Talking Mats – if you have any Talking Mats stories you would like to share, please get in touch! Just send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org