Mediation is a voluntary and confidential process in which people come together to resolve their disputes with the assistance of an impartial third party. Each party shares his or her perspective of what the dispute is about and may also talk about how he or she has been affected by it. The mediator does not take sides, give legal advice or render a decision. She helps the parties to identify the issues in conflict and to develop and consider options for resolution.
Transforming Conflict’s approach to mediation is client-centered. This means that your values, beliefs, and concerns—not those of a third-party “neutral” – will guide your decision-making. We believe that no one can step into your shoes and tell you what is best for your family.
The mediator’s task is to support your direct and collaborative work by clarifying and organizing details, prompting discussion and cooperative communication, encouraging creative problem-solving and managing emotions. She will support the parties in becoming fully informed on legal, financial, and other substantive issues. She tracks agreements, tests their durability through question-asking, and records them as they are made. Once the parties are satisfied that they have reached the end of their negotiations, the mediator will draft their final agreements for review by attorneys or financial professionals.
Clients of Transforming Conflict may choose one of several mediation models to address their particular needs.
In the majority of instances, clients of Transforming Conflict are encouraged to meet together in joint sessions. In this way, they can engage in direct communication with each other rather than through a mediator who shuttles back-and-forth between two rooms acting as a “messenger.”
If you feel strongly about staying in separate rooms during the mediation process, this style of mediation, often referred to as “shuttle” or “caucus” mediation, is available.
Consider the advantages and disadvantages of shuttle vs. face-to-face mediation with care:
- Parties mediating face-to-face have an opportunity to gain some skill and insight into communicating and problem-solving cooperatively, and are better equipped for handling difficult situations in the future. Working together in the same room also provides parties with an opportunity to clarify misunderstandings, offer heartfelt apologies, and brainstorm solutions.
- In shuttle mediation, communication is indirect. The mediator, who lacks familiarity with the details and history of the parties’ circumstances, is responsible for conveying messages between them. This indirect communication is inefficient and often generates feelings of distrust—for the mediator and for the other party.
Sometimes, however, there is so much hostility between the parties or one party has a high conflict personality, so that it is just too difficult for the parties to be in the same room with one another. In these instances, it may be more appropriate and more effective for the parties to engage in “shuttle mediation.”
If you believe that you cannot engage in reasonable discussions with the other party/parties, please read our section, High Conflict Co-Mediation, which describes our mediation option for people with high conflict personalities, relationships, and issues.
Attorneys in Mediation:
Some people would like the cooperative aspect of facilitative mediation but would feel more comfortable with their own lawyer beside them while they are creating and considering the various options for resolving their dispute. Transforming Conflict offers this and will recommend mediation-friendly attorneys who can work with you. Please see Collaborative Mediation for more information about this process.