Experience tells me that if I launch into a description of the different types of mediation, from directive to facilitative, their eyes glaze over, leaving no opportunity to mention the many benefits of transformative dialogue as opposed to outcome oriented mediation. So I say, “Last week I worked with the parents of two teenage boys to help them decide how the children would divide their time between the divorcing parent’s households since they lived an hour away from each other. They were able to create a plan so that the boys will continue to have both of their parents in their lives. As a non-attorney mediator I get to be involved in many situations like this one”. A real story about people in conflict working together to solve problems usually piques their interest.
The Community Mediation Center (CMC) offers conflict resolution assistance to anyone who needs it, using a sliding fee scale based on a person’s income. A two hour session with co-mediators from CMC may cost around $75 per party. Attorney mediators charge up to $350 an hour for mediation. If an in-depth knowledge of say, employment law, is needed, that might be the way to go. But for many conflicts, well-trained, experienced professional mediators can facilitate a restorative process, focusing on finding helpful solutions created by the parties themselves.
CMC mediators have 60 hours of training, including Interpersonal Conflict Resolution, Mediation Training and a 20 hour practicum involving observation and co-mediation with an experienced mediator. CMC mediators use a transformative or facilitative style of mediation which allows time for the parties to hear from each other, tell their stories, decide what the actual issues are, and create a plan together to move forward.
When choosing a mediator, here are some questions you may want to ask:
1. Are you a full-time mediator? How long have you been a mediator?
2. How many hours of training do you have and from what institution? Do you have a degree in the field of conflict resolution?
3. What experience do you have in different situations; workplace, divorce, never married parents, family, neighborhood or school mediations?
4. What style of mediation do you offer?
5. What is your fee structure, cost per hour or per session and the cost of additional sessions if needed?
6. Are you affiliated with regional, state or national mediation organizations?
Consider using a professional mediator for conflict situations you encounter, at home, at work or in your neighborhood. Using a trained, experienced professional mediator is not only cost effective, but can be the difference between a solution in which the parties have ownership in the outcome and therefore stick to agreements, and a solution imposed by a judge, or a directive mediator. People are capable of solving conflict in their lives if offered the opportunity and a process in which to do so. Mediation works!