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Mediation Services

Untangling the knots of conflict
and re-weaving them into knots of understanding and/or trust

Mediation Process what to expect
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Mediator's Role
What to expect
Limitations to Mediation


The Mediator's Role

Mediation unless ordered by the courts (usually in family legal, or Restorative Justice, situations) is entered into entirely by choice by the two (or more) parties involved; usually after some attempt has been made to resolve the situation by the parties themselves, or with the help of family members or co-workers.The Mediator's primary role is to create and maintain a positive and safe environment, where a productive discussion can ensue that moves beyond whatever conflict-knots have occurred.

Mediators are not arbitrators.They do not solve the problem for the parties, and generally don't give advice but may suggest resources that should be explored (for example, if there is a legal element to the issue; or if there are other innovative solutions on record that address a similar situation).Their responsibility is to facilitate the direction of the conversation so that the parties involved can discover their own unique 'win-win' solution.In the process, they maintain a sense of equality between the parties, and help them explore the knot itself for both the threads of disagreement/misunderstanding/etc. and those of common values/concerns/etc.Mediators are "tough on the problem without being tough on the people involved" (quote from Laura Luz at Creatingidealsolutions).They are trained in recognizing what knots may be happening and unrecognized threads may be involved, and how to help the partiies untangle them.They maintain neutrality on the issue itself ensuring that the solution fits the parties' needs and values, not their own.

A key element of mediation is confidentiality the parties involved cannot be expected to explore the threads of the conflict if revealing such information would be of any danger to them, or create further discord (in their families, relationship with co-workers, etc.).The mediator is not allowed to reveal any information that is disclosed during the mediation session, and will not testify to such in any court.It is entirely up to the parties themselves to agree upon what information (if any) may be shared with others who are not directly, or only indirectly, involved.

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What to expect if choosing Mediation

1. Pre-mediation discussion once there has bee a request for mediation, the mediator will speak with both (or more) parties separately, in order to
a) get a general sense of what the issue is and how it evolved according to the perspective of each party
b) clarify what attempts have already been made to resolve the problem
c) consider if there are any legal issues to consider, further practical information required, or resources to be explored; or if there any other parties that should be involved in order to finalize a solution that is truly workable
d) explain the mediator's role, and answers any questions or concerns about how the mediation session might progress
e) ensure that mediator can facilitate without bias, or recommend another mediator who could and/or has more experience with that particular kind of problem (especially if there are legal ramifications to the solution)
f) review the fees, help identify a neutral space for the mediation session (if necessary) and possible dates, etc.
g) ensure that each party is choosing mediation by their own free-will, and if they wish to continue towards an actual mediation session

2. The Mediation session(s)
f) The first concern is to address any questions or concerns about the mediation process that may have arisen, and then to address the issue of confidentiality (re what gets shared from the session with those not present, yet involved in some way).
g) Each party will be asked to give a short overview of the situation from their perspective: and together with the mediator, they identify the core issue(s) of the situation (what needs to resolved which may be different for each party).
h) The mediator will then support the parties to address the threads the factors that are relevant to the situation (called "interests"); but may have either not yet been shared between the two parties, or have caused confusion.These may include articulating wishes, expectations and/or needs; clarifying misunderstandings or misinformation (or missing information); identifying difference in perspective, or personal or cultural, values; or other influences on the conflict-knot.The mediator helps identify common goals or values; or differences that may be complementary, rather than conflictive.
i) When it seems that most of the factors/interests have been addressed, the mediator will support the parties to create their own unique solution.Often, parts of the solution have already been identified during the conversation.The mediator does not propose the solution, but helps the parties identify how partial solutions and articulated threads/interests might be woven together to build a 'win-win' resolution.It is also the mediator's responsibility to ensure that the solution relatively equally addresses both parties' wishes/needs.
j) Once a solution has been created, the mediator will help the parties determine how to best ensure that it works in the long-term, via
i) writing it down in a form that both parties agree to
ii) clarifying of what else might need to happen before it is finalized (such as the approval of other interested parties)
iii) determining how and when to check-in that the solution is working, and/or if it needs further amendments
iv) identifying what the options might be available if the resolution does not work long-term.
k) If the solution has not been reached in the first session, and both parties are willing to continue the process, another session will be arranged.In that case, further interests or concerns will be addressed at a later date, just because of time limitations.However, it may also be that
i) the parties may need to check with other interested parties to identify if the present direction of the mediation is appropriate; and/or
ii) further resources or clarifying information may need to be researched (especially if there are legal ramifications, or further relevant information needs to be considered); and/or
iii) either or both parties may wish to have a time period to reconsider the direction of the session and whether it is adequately addressing their needs/wishes.

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Limitations of Mediation

Many seemingly irresolvable situations can be addressed through mediation, but may still need a lawyer's (or other authority's) involvement to finalize the solution especially if there are legal ramifications, or the solution requires changes in the workplace/etc.

Mediation is an entirely voluntary process and one or the other of the parties may decide to end it before a solution has been reached.Some situations may require several mediation sessions to address all of the threads/interests relevant to each party, and create a solution that meets all of their needs/wishes.In some cases, external changes (outside the choices of the two parties) may be required before a 'win-win' solution becomes possible.

It is also possible that, although some clarification and understanding has occurred, the mediation does not lead to a specific solution.In this case, the mediator may not be the most appropriate one to work with the two parties, or the parties may need more time (and perhaps other temporary solutions, or interim measures) before choosing whether to continue with mediation or not.

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Mediation The journey from
of conflict
to knots of understanding,
respect and/or trust

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