When I tell people that I am a mediator, they look puzzled. So I ask them if they know what it means before I explain it to them. Some people have a vague idea, most people have never heard of it, and one person even thought a mediator was a clairvoyant! Many people also confuse mediation with meditation.
No, mediators are not psychics, psychologists, counsellors, judges, advisors or guitar picks (also called mediators).
What does a mediator do?
A mediator gets involved when there is a dispute or conflict and helps you find solutions that work for you and everyone involved while making sure that the needs and interests of all parties are addressed. In other words, a mediator facilitates communication by running mediation sessions following the mediation process and using various mediation methods. The mediator also uses a variety of techniques to steer the process in a helpful direction and help the parties find their optimal solution.
A mediator acts neutrally between two or more parties to the dispute and does not criticise, make judgements, take sides, give advice, make decisions, impose solutions, consider evidence or make any findings of fact. A mediator, however, will ask you challenging questions during your private sessions to help you with reality testing and delve into “what if” scenarios. Here’s where a mediator’s background and expertise in specific areas will benefit you.
What if there is a conflict of interest?
If the mediator has a conflict of interest (e.g., a relationship with a party or a personal interest in the outcome of the dispute) or a conflict that may have been experienced, then the mediator will disclose the conflict to the parties.
Does a mediator have the necessary qualifications?
Yes, in Australia, mediators need to be accredited by the National Mediator Accreditation System (NMAS) administered by the Mediation Standards Board (MSB). So when you type a mediator’s name, it should come up in the Nationally Accredited Mediator’s Register. If the name does not come up, the mediator’s accreditation may have lapsed, or the mediator is not accredited.
The accreditation process is standard across Australia and is administered by recognised mediator accreditation bodies (RMABs). Applicants need to meet threshold training, education and assessment requirements as described in the Approval Standards which form part of the National Mediator Accreditation System.
What is mediation?
Mediation is a dynamic, structured, interactive process in which a neutral third party (mediator) helps the parties to resolve conflicts through the use of specialised communication and negotiation techniques. All mediation participants are invited to participate in the process actively. Mediation is in the legal sense, a form of alternative dispute resolution to settle disputes between two or more parties with concrete effects. Mediation is also widely used in workplace, personal and family disputes.
Do you have any questions?
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