What is Mediation?

iStock_000010351040_ExtraSmallMediation is a process where people who are in disagreement come together with an impartial mediator to try and work out details of their situation themselves. The mediator does not take sides, say who is right or wrong or tell people what to do but helps people have a difficult conversation, feel heard and work towards a constructive and peaceful resolution.

In Virginia, the mediation process is voluntary and confidential.  According to the Code of Virginia, which contains the State of Virginia Statutory laws, “mediation means a process in which a mediator facilitates communication between the parties and, without deciding the issues or imposing a solution on the parties enables them to understand and to reach a mutually agreeable resolution to their dispute.” § 8.01-581.21

Mediation can be used in a wide-range of conflict situations including:

  • family and parenting issues including separation agreements
  • workplace disputes and team development
  • business and consumer disputes
  • landlord/tenant situations
  • probate/estate issues
  • parent/teen challenges
  • and many more

Mediators allow people as much time as needed to share their perception of what has happened. Then, using a variety of communication techniques, mediators help people feel heard. These techniques include “reflective listening” and summarization; reframing; open-ended questioning to clarify issues; identifying the interest that drives decisions (positions); and building “common ground” bridges.

If you ready to generate options for resolution, mediators can help you think creatively but will not be creative for you; they are not going to tell you what to do.

If you do reach a resolution to the dispute, the mediator can write the agreement for you in simple, everyday language that reflects all of your decisions made in mediation. The mediator might ask reality testing questions while drafting the agreement to help everyone at the table to think through “what if” situations that could derail the agreement. If no agreement is reached, then you can look at other options to resolve the conflict which can include arbitration or litigation.

While mediation might feel therapeutic, mediation is not therapy. Mediators also cannot give legal advice, even if they are attorney-mediators.

Mediation sessions usually last about 2 hours and people often find it helpful to meet more than once.

If you would like to learn if mediation might be the process for you, contact me.