Posted on September 26, 2011
What I love about mediation, is that there are so many different ways it can help couples who are going through relationship breakdowns. Mediation is best known as a process in which a couple is assisted by neutral mediator, usually through a series of meetings together. The mediator’s job is not to advise, but to provide information and guidance in a way which helps the couple communicate better and so help them achieve a better outcome.
However, family mediation takes many other forms, all of which are designed to cover the types of problems which the original model might struggle with. For example, it is commonly believed that mediation is not suitable where there is a real risk of abuse between the couple. Yet most mediators will have been trained to mediate by caucusing. This involves the couple being safely kept apart in separate rooms, with the mediator moving between the rooms. Phone mediation is an option for couples who want to work together but may live far apart. With video services such as Skype, the lack of eye contact, which can make phone mediation more challenging, is overcome.
While family mediators will usually prefer to work with a couple over a series of 90 minutes sessions, some mediators offer whole day mediations. This is an approach which is attractive to time-pressured professionals who have a large degree of emotional stability and good levels of communication. Co-mediation is another. This is where two mediators work together with a couple. It may be appropriate for very very complicated or high-value cases, in which case the mediators might both be lawyer-mediators. But there are many lawyer-mediators who work alongside mediators with a counselling background in cases where there are difficult underlying emotional conflicts. And I particularly enjoy mediating with financial mediators, whose background may be as an IFA, because they are able to offer a level of financial guidance which is very reassuring for couples who are facing an uncertain future.
In all of these examples, it is usual for the couple to be in the room alone with the mediator(s), but many mediators will be aware that sometimes it can help to have the couples’ lawyers in the room too. Similarly, the mediator may recommend to the couple that they might find a particular issue easier to deal with if an expert was brought in for a session or two: an accountant, surveyor or child expert, for example.
So you can see from this that mediation does not just mean one thing. It is a remarkably wide-ranging and flexible process which is actually evolving all the time. So however desperate and impossible your situation might feel to you, there may be a way which mediation will be able to help. For guidance and information, always go and see a mediator first. The mediator will listen to you and assess your needs, and they will tell you if they think mediation may be able to help you. For more information about mediation, visit http://www.resolution.org.uk . You can find out more about me at http://about.me/stephenganderson