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Restorative Mediation

mediation:

Mediation is an interactive process where a neutral "mediator" facilitates disputing parties in resolving conflict. Mediation is a "party-centered" process in that it is focused primarily upon the needs, rights, and interests of the parties. The mediator uses a wide variety of techniques to guide the process in a constructive direction and to help the parties find their optimal solution. The mediator manages the interactions between parties by facilitating open and constructive communication.  The goal of mediation is to create an agreement around the conflict which is satisfying to both parties. Mediation is often used as an alternative to going to court to settle a dispute.  Examples of disputes in which mediation can be a satisfying, efficient, cost effective and less time consuming, and less traumatic strategy compared to court are:

  • property disputes,
  • contract performance disputes (such as home owner and contractor dispute),
  • employment disputes,
  • neighborhood disputes,
  • divorce 

 

The Mediation Process

Each mediation session typically lasts 60 minutes to 3 hours. Many conflicts can be resolved with one session. That said, some issues are complex and require more time for discussion and exploration.  Mediations which require more than 3 hours to resolve will be continued to a another session. 

Convening:

In order to enter into mediation all parties involved need to agree to the process.  Unlike restorative conferences there does not need to be agreement about the circumstances or facts of the dispute. Mediation simply requires a willingness to bring the conflict to the mediation table to communicate about the conflict with the hopes of reaching an agreement.

the opening:

During the opening statement the mediator will ask all parties to sign a confidentiality agreement, discuss the mediation process and go over ground rules. Mediation is a confidential process.  "What happens in mediation stays in mediation".  This means that no one may discuss what is shared in mediation with any person not involved in the mediation.  This includes the mediator. Mediators can not be called to testify in court about anything shared in mediation.

In addition to agreeing to confidentiality the mediator will explain the mediation process and ground rules as follows:

  • The mediator role is to be impartial and at not make judgements about the conflict or parties involved in the conflict.
  • The mediator decides who speaks when. Each person will have a chance to speak. Interruptions are not allowed. It is the mediators role to direct the discussion by making sure everyone has a chance to speak and be heard. 
  • Name calling is not allowed. All parties are encourage to discuss how they have been affected and what they are needing rather than judging and labelling others or others actions.
  • If desired, agreements reached will be written down by the mediator and signed by all parties at the end of the mediation.

The discussion

The mediator will call on each party to share their perspective of the conflict and their desired resolution.  Typically the mediator starts with the party who has initiated the complaint (in a court case this would be the plaintiff). Each party will be listened to and heard without interruption. The mediator uses active listening, open ended questions, and reflections to help each person fully express how they are being affected and how they are wanting the conflict to be resolved.

the negotiation

Once all parties have had a chance to share their perspectives the negotiation process begins. Together, under the guidance of the mediator all parties will explore possibilities and scenarios for resolution. The negotiation process may also involve private caucusing. This is a time when the mediator will sit individually with each side of the dispute to discuss the strengths and weaknesses of their position and to discuss possible solutions not yet explored. Once private caucusing has occurred with each party all parties reconvene to continue the negotiation and hopefully come to an agreeable resolution.

the conclusion

If an agreement is reached the mediator will write up the agreement all parties to sign, creating a legally binding contract. If no agreement is reached the mediator will review the process, the progress made and discuss further options such as meeting again in mediation, going to arbitration or going to court.


MEDIATION LOGISTICS:

WHERE:

Mediation can happen in my office, in your home or office, or online

Online mediation uses ZOOM technology to create a conference environment. Mediating online is convenient and easy. It allows parties who don't live in the same local to benefit from the meditation process and may provide a sense of safety for parties who aren't ready or wanting to be in the same room together. 

cost:

It is requested that the mediator be paid $150 per disputing entity for each mediation session up to 3 hours.  That said no mediation will be turned down due to a lack of funds. A sliding scale is available for any party for which $150 would be an overwhelming hardship.  Please do not hesitate asking for details about the sliding scale if your only reluctance to participate in mediation is the cost.