Mediation is the process, not the content


When I think of the greatest gift a mediator offers to her clients, my mind goes immediately to the incredible opportunity for honest conversation. Creating a space which is safe enough for individuals to open up, to say how they feel, to share from their hearts, is a rare event in our culture. It is easy as a mediator to get caught up in the importance of the content, after all most of us who work with couples are helping them to form an agreement for separation. Yet, once we've had the appropriate training and continuing education, there are ways we can be sure content is covered. We can develop a checklist of items to ensure we donʼt miss any important content conversations. We can rely on our clients to gather the necessary data to ensure they are basing their decisions on accurate information. We can consult a book, an expert, or a colleague to refresh our understanding of the particular type of pension or the formula used in calculating support. All of this is important to a good and complete agreement. But the clients could get a content agreement without mediation. What they are really seeking when they visit a mediator is more.

What is it about mediation that makes it such an attractive option? Why is the popularity of mediation growing? Why are our clients compelled to tell others that they too should use mediation? Cost savings is certainly a consideration, but I believe the reason is deeper. Conflict is frightening. None of us wants to be hated or demonized and generally, none of us wants to carry the weight of those feelings toward others. It takes too much energy, a precious resource in a world that demands so much. The value we offer as mediators is a way for the people we serve to have the difficult conversations needed to move through a painful time while preserving their self-image as a good person who deserves to be respected and cared for. The interventions a mediator uses allow him to guide his clients into the heart of their feelings so that they are empowered to speak their truth, to make their own choices, and to maintain the best of their relationship with the other person. We provide a service that allows people to move into and through the heart of conflict and come out the other side stronger.