Overview of Family Relations

As mental health and family law professionals we know that every family we work with is unique. We also know that families are incredibly complex and dynamic systems…

How we understand and respond to a family’s uniqueness informs our mediations and other ADR processes at every stage – from intake to completion. Developing and expanding on our skills of analysis allows for richer conversations, deeper connection, and more tailored interventions.

The Family Relations Course is designed to provide non-mental health professionals with additional skills and knowledge to analyze and work with a family’s uniqueness, and to understand their complexities which may be contributing to their conflict.

Day one of the course examines how families are changing and evolving. We as professionals can benefit from increased awareness and sensitivity to what this means for our clients and how this meaning may impact their preferred outcomes. Day One also expands on the concepts of Family Dynamics and Family Systems Theory, and examines how a Family Systems approach to intake and mediation can yield necessary information which can enhance your process and expand ones’ understanding of the conflict. Topics such as attachment theory, child development, the impact of separation and divorce on children, and parenting styles are also explored.

Day Two of the Family Relations explores the difference between mental health and mental wellness, and examines the complex and often highly personalized experience of mental health issues. This understanding allows practitioners to connect with clients on a more personal and respectful level, and can enhance both engagement and effectiveness within the mediation process.

Day Two continues to examine issues of suicide and grief, and begins to look at skills necessary to work with difficult emotions. Additional focus is given to understanding and unpacking client narratives, and appreciating how each divorce is unique and experienced differently. Challenging topics such as stepfamilies and the roles of new partners are explored in a narrative and family systems context, and prospective mediators are given the opportunity to develop active listening skills and identifying mental health-related issues at intake and in mediation.

Day Three of the Family Relations Course provides prospective family mediators and ADR professionals with an opportunity to explore various models of mediation, including Narrative, Transformative, and Therapeutic Family Mediation. Additional skills and strategies such as Motivational Interviewing are discussed to further expand on the prospective mediators’ toolkit.

Focusing on role play and class discussion, Day Three of the Family Relations course provides participants with the opportunity to reflect on the Family Relations Courses’ three days of training. Participants are provided time to try out new skills in a focused small group setting to enhance how they approach issues of Family Dynamics, Mental Health, and Client Narrative.

Day Three of the Family Relations course further explores special topics in mediation, including the importance of self-care. Self-reflective vs. Self-reflexive practice is also discussed. As a mediator or ADR professional these topics are instrumental in ensuring we provide the best process we can for our clients, and that as professionals we are focused, engaged, and present.


J. Norton (B&W) ®MCP (324x420)

Jared Norton is a Parenting Coordinator with Riverdale Mediation.  Jared seeks to help parents to develop co-parenting relationships and interactions which support the best interest of their children.  Working with co-parent’s strengths, Jared helps co-parents address potential risk factors and to enhance protective factors within the context of the child’s world.