Family mediation training involves the blending of a number of skills and disciplines to help families in crisis find productive solutions to their problems. Practitioners interested in working in family mediation often have academic backgrounds in law, social work, psychology, or sociology. Some, however, have no background in any of these areas, but have life experiences that make them proficient mediators.
Some prospective family mediators have superb skills to prepare them for the task of dispute resolution. Others have to work at honing these skills in order to be able to help families work through their problems. Family mediation training typically involves in-depth study of skills, such as interpersonal communication, conflict resolution, dynamics of conflict, impact of conflict, and transformative meditation theory.
A family mediator is trained to be able to relate to and communicate with people in a way that will allow them to be comfortable instead of combative. The family court system often encourages families to be combative and hostile. A family mediator has to be able to diffuse this atmosphere of hostility and get the parties to talk and air their grievances in a constructive manner.
As important as it is for a family mediator in training to have excellent communication skills, he or she also needs to be able to use those skills to assist families in finding workable solutions to their issues. They need to be able to address the problems at hand, and offer suggestions as to how those problems can be resolved amicably. It typically is a delicate balancing act for the family mediator who must interject only enough information to allow parties to work out their differences with little to no intrusion from the mediator.
Family mediation training usually involves the thorough study of what family dynamics fuel conflict. The prospective mediator typically must understand what underlying issues led to the conflict, and what solutions will best fit the individual families’ circumstances. They also should understand that some family conflicts mask other more deep-seated issues within the family. The mediator must be prepared to address these concerns while still giving the aggrieved parties the opportunity to find solutions on their own.
Although many family mediators are former family lawyers, they take a different approach to solving family conflict than the traditional attorney. Since attorneys may focus on winning a favorable result for their client, the family mediator understands the impact of the adversarial process on the child and tries to minimize that trauma. During family mediation training, the potential mediator is allowed to examine the outcomes of families who have undergone both processes and determine which one is more beneficial for the child or children involved.
Family mediation training often involves a study in transformative mediation therapy. In transformative mediation therapy, the mediator does not look for an immediate solution to the issue at hand. Instead, he or she empowers the disputants to understand each other’s point of view and find their own solutions. This is often more effective than the problem-solving approach where the mediator hopes to find a solution to the problem and offers suggestion. Successful transformative mediation therapy allows the parties to understand the other party’s perspective.