Linda Scher
Family Mediator and Facilitator


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More About Mediation

Mediation is a voluntary process that allows people to meet with a neutral third party and examine their situation in terms of their needs and interests. A mediator will not take sides or make decisions on your behalf, but will assist you in sharing information, identifying goals and discussing options. Mediation sessions are confidential. Any information shared in the sessions will not be disclosed to outside persons.

Questions and Answers provides basic information about mediation. Types of Mediation tells you about the various types of Family Mediation, and tells you about some types of Mediation that can address other kinds of issues.

Four Steps of Mediation will introduce you to the process of mediation.

The Talker-Listener Card was created by Dr. James Petersen and appears on the back of Linda's business cards. The card folds over so one side is facing the talker and the other side faces the listener. It is a handy communication tool for anyone to use. Contact Linda to request a card. Contact Dr. Petersen for more information about the Talker-Listener approach to communication.

QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS
ABOUT MEDIATION

By Linda Scher and Gloria Bryen

Q: What is Mediation?
A: Mediation is a powerful and cost-effective way for people to reach resolution without destroying relationships and without the intervention of the court. It offers an opportunity for people to learn from the past in order to prevent problems in the future. In mediation, the parties are active participants in the decisions required to resolve the conflict. The mediator is a neutral facilitator who works to assist parties in their decision-making. Mediation is a confidential and voluntary process.

Q: What Does the Mediator Do?
A: The mediator wears many hats during the process. As a "communication consultant", the mediator helps the parties talk to one another in a productive way, through individual coaching, demonstrating and teaching active listening skills, and enforcing communication ground rules. As a "facilitator" and "note-taker", the mediator sets the agenda, tracks issues to be discussed, and records agreements reached. As "referral source", the mediator identifies areas where input from outside sources is needed and helps clients to locate factual information or personal support from such experts as lawyers, tax consultants, counselors, self-help groups and resources, appraisers, or any other source of helpful information.

Q: What Does Mediation Look Like?
A: Individual mediations differ according the mediator's style, the type of conflict and the number of parties. But some basic principles are found in all mediations. First, each party will be given the opportunity to share their point of view and feelings about an issue, often in the presence of the other parties. Second, the mediator helps each party to identify their particular priorities, values and goals around the issue. Third, the parties brainstorm options for resolving the issue, bearing in mind the information shared in the first two steps. Finally, the parties select a solution for the issue, which is reduced to writing. The process is repeated for multiple issues.

Q: What Does This Mean For Me?
A: The basic principle of mediation is to enable clients to make their own informed decisions. While the mediator is in charge of the process, the parties are in charge of the content and the outcome. The mediator helps the parties to be sure that they have all the information necessary to make a decision, and then helps them craft a solution unique to their situation. Experience and studies have consistently shown that agreements reached through mediation last longer and lay a foundation for healing for all parties involved. When there is an ongoing relationship between the parties, the re-establishment of a working relationship may be even more important than the particular agreement reached.

Q: How Does Mediation Differ From Other Services?
A: Mediation is not a substitute for legal services, although it usually significantly reduces the legal costs of a conflict. While the formal mediated agreement may be the basis for ending any legal action, parties still need to consult with their individual attorneys about any legal implications of their discussion. Mediation is not a substitute for therapy, although the parties are often greatly helped by their involvement in therapy or counseling prior to, during and after mediation. Mediation looks at the past in the context of forming solutions for the future rather than unraveling reasons for past behavior. Mediation is not a process in which problems are turned over to a decision-making authority; rather it keeps the decision-making power with the parties.

Q: How Can I Find a Qualified Mediator?
A: With the exception of those mediators employed by public agencies (i.e. the court or a neighborhood center funded by the state), the State of Oregon does not license or regulate mediation services. A person looking for the right mediator must be sure to ask questions in order to determine the mediator's qualifications. A mediator should be trained specifically in mediation; a forty-hour basic training should be considered a minimum requirement. A mediator should have experience, both with conducting the process and with case development, which includes assessing the case and client's appropriateness for mediation. A mediator should be affiliated with an organization that provides, if not requires, continuing education in mediation and subscription to a code of ethical conduct. The Oregon Mediation Association or (503) 872-9775 in Portland) is a statewide example of such an organization. For family mediation, the Association for Conflict Resolution's Family Section is a national example.

TYPES OF MEDIATION

FAMILY (DOMESTIC RELATIONS)

This broad category of mediation deals with issues between family members - spouses, unmarried partners, children, adult children, stepfamilies, adoptive parents and birth parents. The more common types of family mediation services are:

ADULT CHILDREN: issues about care of elderly parents and managing costs, estate planning and inheritance, especially where adult children disagree with each other or their parent.

CHILD WELFARE: (usually state-sponsored) issues related to juvenile court proceedings, placement and removal from the parent's home, service plan, permanent planning, termination, adoption.

DIVORCE AND SEPARATION: all issues related to divorce and separation (property division, debts, spousal support, parenting time/visitation, decision-making/custody, child support and finances). Separation mediation may include issues about timing and the decision whether to reconcile or divorce.

OPEN ADOPTION: (private or state-sponsored) issues related to sharing information and contact between a birth parent or relative and the child and his or her adoptive family.

PARENTING PLAN: just issues relating to children (parenting time/visitation, decision-making/custody, child support and finances)

PARENT-TEEN: issues between parents and older children, can include house rules, school, behavior, etc.

POST-DIVORCE: issues about changes in children's and parent's lives relating to parenting time, decision-making, child finances, school, residence, etc.

RECONCILIATION: issues about repairing the relationship with or without separation involved

STEPFAMILY: closely related to Post-Divorce mediation, dealing more specifically with issues about new family members, house rules, relationships.

UNMARRIED PARENTS: issues similar to Divorce and Separation, with due consideration of the differences in legal status.

OTHER TYPES

There are many other types of mediation. Here are some examples of types of other types of mediation and some sample issues they might cover:

COMERCIAL/BUSINESS: issues about contracts, work relationships, partnerships.

CONSTRUCTION: issues about fees, liens, incomplete or unsatisfactory work.

CONSUMER: issues about defective work, fraud, bad business practice.

HOUSING/LANDLORD-TENANT: issues about rental conditions, rent and deposits, eviction.

LABOR/EMPLOYMENT/WORKPLACE: issues between employees, between an employee and a supervisor, between union and management.

NEIGHBORHOOD/COMMUNITY: issues between neighbors about comfort in one's home, noise, trash, sharing space, pets, as well between neighbor groups and public agencies or business property owners. Often free services are offered in the community.

PUBLIC POLICY: issues involving public bodies (state, county, city, federal), including environmental, zoning and land use, location of public facilities.

REAL ESTATE: issues involving the purchase of property, including contract, earnest money, inspection, revocation of offer or acceptance.

SCHOOL/EDUCATION: issues involving parents and teachers, principals or other school staff, special education plans, also includes student to student issues.

SMALL CLAIMS: issues may include many of the other categories on this list. Usually, services are offered through a the small claims court program.

VICTIM/OFFENDER: often limited to juvenile offender situations, involves a victim of a crime mediating with a criminal offender to create an acceptable solution.

FOUR STEPS

THE FOUR STAGES OF MEDIATION

1. SHARE YOUR POINT OF VIEW

2. DISCUSS YOUR VALUES, PRIORITIES AND GOALS

3. GENERATE & EXPLORE OPTIONS

4. EVALUATE & SELECT BEST OPTION(S)

TALKER-LISTENER CARD

LISTENER

I'm calm enough to hear
I don't own the problem

Goals: to provide safety
to understand
to clarify

without: agreeing, disagreeing, advising, defending

TALKER

I'm most bothered
I own the problem

Goals: to share my feelings
to share my thoughts

without: accusing, attacking, labeling, judging

© James Petersen

All text, graphics & information on this site © 2004 Linda Scher