The Mediation Process
Mediation is the ideal process for dealing with relationship-driven conflict. Many interpersonal disputes have gone on for far too long because the underlying cause of the conflict has not been discussed between or among the parties. Families often have longstanding grudges that become well known for their intensity, but no one in the family wants to take upon themselves the risky business of "bringing things to a head".
Agree's mediators apply a particular model of mediation described in the social science literature as Narrative Mediation to these kinds of disputes. The advantage of a narrative approach is that it is a natural and organic approach to working through these issues. It opens up an opportunity to each of the parties to "tell their story" about how the conflict arose and the impact that the conflict has on them personally. It offers participants an opportunity to reflect upon what the conflict is costing each of them in terms of time and emotional energy.
A skilled mediator can also assist be helping parties reframe the conflict, that is seeing the conflict (and the causes of that conflict) differently. In particular, our approach will assist the parties to recognize that the future of their relationship is an open future, with many possibilities, and that they can choose to write an ending to their relationship that is more satisfying than the story of their relationship thus far.
Relationship driven conflicts are among the most challenging to mediate. They require patience, skill and genuine caring about the people involved. The parties themselves require a resolve to see things improve between them, and a preparedness to re-examine the past. Parties who have the courage to be self-reflective and open to new interpretations of past events will enjoy greater success in mediation.
Issues for Mediation
Agree has employed the narrative approach to mediation to resolve long-standing family and workplace disputes, as well as conflict around how family run businesses ought to be devolved to the younger generation. This approach has yielded excellent results in disputes centering on wills and estates matters and in parenting disputes between spouses.
The Mediation Procedure
Generally, the mediator will meet separately with each party for an intake session lasting about 40 to 90 minutes. These meetings will help establish an agenda for the joint session(s) that typically run two to three (2-3) hours each. Most often one to three joint sessions are required to resolve deeply rooted interpersonal conflict. Exceptionally protracted disputes may require more time.
If there are legal issues involved in the dispute (i.e. if one party is alleging that another is holding property wrongfully), the parties may be urged to seek legal advice prior to the joint session such that they can problem solve with full knowledge of their legal entitlements and responsibilities toward one another. The parties' lawyers are generally not present for the mediation sessions, but can be invited if a particularly difficult legal issue presents itself during the course of the discussions.
Confidentiality of Mediation
In mediation, the parties seek to reach a resolution on the basis of full and frank disclosure of all relevant information between them. It is important, therefore, that all discussions take place in mediation on an "off the record" or "without prejudice" basis.
The mediator will not voluntarily disclose the substance of any of the discussions which take place in mediation (except as agreed in writing by the parties prior to the mediation). Since mediation is intended to be a confidential process, each of the parties is expected to sign a waiver agreeing not to call the mediator to testify in any subsequent legal proceeding between them.
The mediator cannot, however, absolutely guarantee confidentiality and may, under some circumstances, be required by law to disclose information, such as in cases of suspected child abuse or potential danger or harm to one of the participants.
Mediation is by far the most effective process for dealing with interpersonal relationship based conflicts. The narrative mediation approach offers the flexibility and responsiveness to allow parties to move past the conflict and to design and chose a future with greater promise for each of them. If you have further questions please contact our Partners or Associates at 1-800-524-6967.
If you want to bring a matter forward for mediation, simply call Agree and provide the particulars by phone.