Talking Mats

One way to hear what’s important to the person is to use Talking Mats.

Talking Mats is a visual communication framework which supports people with communication and cognitive difficulties to express their feelings and views.

Talking Mats uses three sets of symbols: a top scale, a topic and a set of options which the person can move around in relation to the top scale.

Talking Mats creates a neutral listening space for people to express their views.

Because the person is directly involved and in control of placing symbols, it makes it much easier to take a step back and listen rather than talk for the person.

Further information about resources and training can be found here:

Talking Mats Videos

The principles of Talking Mats


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Talking Mats Example


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These video clips show examples of Talking Mats being used in practice

In this clip, Sally and Matthew are using Talking Mats to find out about Matthew’s interests.

This can be a good starting point for goal setting conversations, especially if someone has difficulties understanding the concept of goal setting.

Notice how Talking Mats helps Matthew to respond and how Sally has a clearer understanding of his views, particularly given that sometimes his yes/no responses can get mixed up.

Matthew uses different modes of communication, including singing to let Sally know that he only goes to Church for funerals. This results in lots of laughter and social connection during the conversation.

In this clip, Joan uses Talking Mats to find out what Ian is managing and not managing in relation to aspects of his life.

The Talking Mats format allows Ian to consider each option one at a time and he has time to think about the impact of his stroke on his life, and begins to come up with areas that he would like to work on (for example, having things to do in his spare time).

This can be explored in more detail through a sub-mat (See for more information)