Before deciding whether to take the case, the client, conflict and case are analyzed to assess whether the case is suitable for mediation, and/or you are the most appropriate mediator…
At Riverdale Mediation, these are our guiding principles: we see to provide a safe, fair, confidential, balanced, neutral, informed and voluntary process of self-determination that does no harm.
Each of these principles is important and sometimes they conflict with one another. It is therefore essential to have a solid understanding of the purpose of each principle, and a vision of how these principles will play out in any given situation. When confronted with a new challenge, good mediators will return to the principles that guide them for the solution.
The following series are excerpts from one of our training manuals for new mediators:
PART 1 – BEFORE DECIDING
Before deciding whether to take the case, the client, conflict and case are analyzed to assess whether the case is suitable for mediation, and/or you are the most appropriate mediator. Lawyers, judges, other professionals and clients will all refer to mediation with you. It is your responsibility, and yours alone, to assess whether the case is an appropriate one for mediation, notwithstanding what anyone else thinks about the case. The factors to consider include:
Are the issues and problems within your sphere of competency?
Are you neutral? Are you capable of being truly impartial?
Are there any real or perceived conflicts of interest?
Do you feel that you can provide a process that is consistent with your guiding principles?
Are the parties ready to negotiate?
Is the power balance between them one that you can work with in a way that will do no harm?
Are the parties willing to comply with your requirements for financial and other disclosure?
Do the parties understand the limits on confidentiality and are they comfortable with that?
Is there an appropriate mechanism for including the child’s views and preferences?
Is mediation the best process for both parties?
Are both parties able to tell you what they need in order to participate in a process that complies with your guiding principles?
You will want to design your pre-mediation procedures in a way that will enable you to obtain the answers to these questions. Generally this will consist of a pre-mediation intake form, some telephone interviewing, and a confidential intake-screening meeting with each party (and their counsel if they wish) before deciding whether to take the case. Comfortable knowledge of screening tools, awareness of the predictors of high risk and ready familiarity with appropriate resources for referral, including safety planning, are all essential components of a competent pre-decision process.