In many areas, you do not need to complete any formal educational or licensing requirements to start a mediation practice. The development of a successful mediation business, however, may necessitate the completion of a training program, certification by a professional board, and recognition by one or more court systems. Depending on the nature of your practice, it may also be in your best interest to complete training in counseling, social work, or law. If your practice is to be extremely specialized in nature, you may also need to obtain additional education or work experience in a particular industry or profession.
The necessity of meeting certain credentialing requirements may largely depend on the type of mediation services you wish to offer. For example, if you are primarily working in the area of conflict resolution within groups or businesses, you may not need to obtain any type of formal training at all. In such cases, formal training may enhance your practice and make you appear more credible to potential clients, but you do not need such training in order to offer your services to the public.
If you wish to open a mediation practice that specializes in assisting families who are undergoing divorce, you may need to obtain credentials in order for your practice to be recognized by judges and courts. In some places, the required credentials actually vary from courthouse to courthouse, so it may be in your best interest to contact individual courthouses to find out their policy on recognizing mediators. In some cases, you will be expected to complete a mediator training course and may also be required to hold licensure in the practice of law or counseling.
The extent of your training and professional competency in an area outside of mediation can be crucial in determining the scope of your mediation practice. If you see yourself primarily as someone who can walk into a tense situation and persuade each side to listen to each other, specialist mediation training may be all you need. In situations where you expect to negotiate legally binding agreements, having a good understanding of the law or even a law degree may be required.
Once you have completed mediation training and have met the requirements to operate as a mediator, you may wish to submit your name to courthouses and social service agencies so that those in need of your services can learn about your practice. You may also wish to engage in various types of self-promotion, including distribution of marketing material and business cards. Other options for making people aware of your mediation practice include lecturing at conferences and community groups and writing about mediation topics for publication in local newspapers or magazines.