Mediation is a process designed to deal with problems that have been generated by unresolved conflict. A mediator is invited into the situation, to help resolve the conflict. In any mediation, two parts are at play: (1) managing the problem-solving dynamic, called the “process,” and (2) understanding the background the conflict is embedded in, called the “context.” A qualified, trained mediator is fully able to manage the process and has a deep understanding of the context. These professional skills, combined with the desire of the people involved to deal with their difficulties honestly, are what makes the mediation process so powerful.
Family mediation is about helping families grappling with unresolved conflict find ways to a solution. Family conflicts most often arise where there is significant change: parents separate, blended families form, an aging parent needs to move to a residential facility, a teenager has been acting out, a parent has developed an addiction and isn’t available to care for a child, and so on. These changes tend to be very stressful – emotions run high, people don’t listen to each other, there is a lot at stake. Family mediators need to be able to help people work with difficult emotions, to know the right questions to ask (and when to ask them), and to know what information to bring forward. To make mediation satisfying for everyone, and for the mediation process to be truly effective, a family mediator must master both “process” and “context”.