Mediation is an important form of dispute resolution. Divorce mediation can be a viable alternative to going to court and can save money for everyone involved. Increasingly, family law is focusing on pushing couples towards mediating a divorce rather than reflexively heading straight to court. The same is true when dealing with workplace conflict. This means there are plenty of opportunities for those with mediation training. Here’s what to know if you’re considering such training.
Is it Useful?
Two-thirds of all married couples who chose to mediate a divorce rather than go to court report being satisfied with the results. In part, this is doubtless due to the fact that divorce mediation is about half as expensive as litigation. When it comes to workplace mediation, using mediation and arbitration has been shown to reduce the costs of working through conflicts and disputes by 50% to 80% over litigation. For the mediator, 95% of those who have undergone the training report that the training has helped them to find better ways of resolving problems.
Is There Opportunity?
In the United States there are approximately 2,400 divorces every day. The average office manager in America spends the equivalent of one to two days of each working week resolving office conflicts, and in 2016 alone there were 91,503 discrimination charges filed in American workplaces. There is a great need for mediation training.
Where Is Mediation Training Held?
There are training centers in every state and training programs run by government entities and by private educational institutes such as universities. While some courses will be partly available remotely or online, most will also include a practical component on location to allow for experiental practice and real-time feedback.
What Should I Look For in A Course?
There are some initial questions to ask, and the first should be for specifics about state requirements for mediators in your area. Any training program should be thoroughly familiar with this. Once this is out of the way, here are some important questions to ask:
- What model do you teach? There are three basic approaches to mediation and mediation training. These are facilitative (the most popular by far), transformative, and evaluative. Each has a different definition of the mediator’s role, and it’s important to find out the core values you’ll be taught before you start.
- How are skills taught? You want to know what kind of guidance you’ll receive for ethics, the ratio of students to teacher, and how much chance you’ll have for group discussion and application.
- What is the bibliography for the program? What books and papers will you be assigned to read? Find out how respected the authors are in the field. This will tell you a lot about how useful the course will be to you.
- Ask specifics about the trainers. The trainers you get your mediation training from should be active in dispute resolution, hold membership in professional mediation associations, and be committed to their educational career by constantly working to upgrade their skills in this area.
- How long has the organization been offering training? To get the best outcome, you’ll want to know how long they’ve been training and how many mediators they have successfully trained so far. You should be able to get some names of people who have gone through the course and are happy to recommend it to others.
- What does training cover? Here is a list of the minimum training you should expect to cover in mediation training:
- Principle of mediation
- Role of the mediator
- Nature of conflict
- Goals of the mediation process
- Mediation skills like negotiation and interactive listening
- Cultural sensitivity
- Understanding imbalances of power
- Working with lawyers
- Awareness of bias
- Overview of the ADR process
- Ethical issues like confidentiality, informed consent, and conflict of interest.
How do I Get Experience?
Once you have finished mediation training, it’s important to get a mentor and some experience. Ask any training organization you’re thinking of using about what they offer in terms of training and mentorship after training. You can also find opportunities to volunteer at local courts. In some cases, you may have to pay a small fee for volunteering, but this should come with intensive supervision and coaching that provides real value.
Mediation really works when it comes to resolving disputes. Why not look into training opportunities and see where mediation training can take you?