At the Centre for Mediation & Dispute Resolution, staff members are available daily to answer your questions. The following listing presents a sampling of questions most frequently asked by prospective family mediation clients.
What is mediation?
Family mediation is a process in which a professional mediator helps participants identify and openly discuss issues that are creating tension or conflict within a family. Although mediation is informal in nature, it is structured to ensure that all participants have a voice. With the guidance of a mediator, family members explore their needs, concerns, and priorities and identify information and/or resources they need to achieve their goals.
My family cannot agree on anything regarding my parents – whether they should stay in their home, how we can help with caregiving for them, what will happen to their personal property if they do move, and on and on. Can mediation really help us?
Mediation can help families experiencing conflict who are willing to work through issues together. Since mediation is voluntary, it is an appropriate process only when each family member agrees to participate. Mediation offers each member of the family an opportunity to share his/her ideas and concerns in a confidential setting. Based on discussions with family members before the mediation begins, the mediator will develop a list of topics to discuss in the mediation session(s). By identifying the interests most important to each party, brainstorming and evaluating options for addressing issues, and building consensus within the family, decisions can be made concerning the most important issues at the root of the discord.
How is mediation different from just sitting around the table talking by ourselves?
Mediation provides a neutral, confidential, and safe space for each participant to identify what is important to him or her, as well as to share the perspectives of other family members. An experienced mediator, familiar with the complexities of family dynamics, understands the ways in which tableside conversations can become derailed. It is the mediator’s responsibility to facilitate the exchange of information and the family’s movement toward agreement.
How long does mediation last?
Since the issues in every family are different and the number of people participating in the mediation varies, there is no prescribed time period for mediation. Often, mediations run in two or three hour sessions, and sometimes more than one session is needed to thoroughly address and resolve the issues of concern. Some families prefer to do one long session, up to a full day, particularly if there are participants from out of town or there is another reason that makes a longer session more practical and expedient.
Does everyone have a vote?
Mediation works best through building family consensus. We typically do not use a voting model, which too often represents winning and losing. Mediation utilizes a consensus-building model that respects everyone’s perspectives and strives to achieve resolutions acceptable to all participants.
What should I do if I am interested in mediation?
If you are interested in learning more about mediation, please contact us at the Centre for Mediation & Dispute Resolution. One of our mediators will be pleased to answer your questions about mediation and its appropriateness for your family. If you would like to move forward, we will gather more information and discuss appropriate scheduling.