‘How do I get started in mediation?’

On average, about once a fortnight, I receive a request for an appointment from someone who has been captivated by the potential of mediation and would like to become a mediator.

Often the question is

‘What did you do to become a mediator?’

My responses to that question may be of historical interest, belonging as they do in the last century.

A contemporary question that may be more pertinent is

‘What do you recommend I consider doing to become a mediator?’

My response is to suggest an iterative process of reading, qualifying, participating and promoting which is developed below.

I    Reading

  • Books
  • Online resources
  • University reading lists
  • Membership Organisations
  • Industry bodies

II    Qualifying

  • Mediator Standards Board
  • Resolution Institute Training
  • FDR P (Family Dispute Resolution Practitioner) Training
  • CPD (Continuing Professional Development)

III  Participating 

  • Resolution Institute
  • SCRAM
  • Mentor

IV  Promoting

V   Preparing

Reading


There are numerous excellent books on the theory and practice of mediation. I am limiting myself to recommending two hard copy books and a small selection of online books.

Books

  • Charlton, R. & Dewdney, M. (2014) The Mediator’s Handbook

This is a book about ‘how’ which pairs well with the following book about ‘why’.

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The blurb of The Mediator’s Handbook describes it as follows:

The Mediator’s Handbook Third Edition is an established and highly respected work which assists both experienced and newly qualified mediators who wish to expand their range of skills in this ever-evolving field.

The mediation process is explained in simple steps applicable to all forms of dispute and clearly outlines the required skills, techniques and strategies, especially communication skills. Importantly, variations to the mediation process are explained as are the roles of advisers, support persons and interpreters.

In this Third Edition, there has been significant revision to reflect new developments in mediation since the previous edition published in 2004.

  •  Boulle, L. (2011) Mediation: Principles, Process and Practice

This is a book about ‘why,’ which pairs well with the previous book about ‘how’.

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The blurb of Mediation: Principles, Process and Practice describes it as follows:

Laurence Boulle brings to the book 20 years’ experience in mediation and alternative dispute resolution. This book has been written for teachers and students of mediation, for those who practice in the field, and for judges, lawyers and other law officials who are involved in considering the many legal facets of mediation practice.

The three parts of the book deal with: the historical foundations and the theories and values that underlie the modern application of mediation; the process of mediation and the roles of those involved in the process; the modern practice of mediation in Australia and internationally, and the laws that regulate aspects of the process. Attention is given to the important issues of quality, standards and accountability in mediation and to the empirical knowledge of its operation and effectiveness.

  • Fisher, R., Ury, W. & Patton, B. (2011) Getting to Yes: how to negotiate agreement without giving in (online)

This is the seminal introductory read.

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The blurb of Getting to Yes describes it as follows:

Getting to Yes is a straight forward, universally applicable method for negotiating personal and professional disputes without getting taken — and without getting angry.
It offers a concise, step-by-step, proven strategy for coming to mutually acceptable agreements in every sort of conflict — whether it involves parents and children, neighbours, bosses and employees, customers or corporations, tenants or diplomats.

Online resources

Read everything you can by R J Rummel. Persevere. An encyclopedia lies behind each link.

Use the left-hand menu to select from publications A-Z and publications by date. Read about integrity in ADR and about the National Principles for Resolving Disputes.

  • Online platforms

Mediation, like almost every other endeavour, has joined the digital age. Mediation takes place on online video platforms like Zoom and Skype and many others can be used. MODRON it is a mediation platform that is a practice management tool as well as a mediation platform.

University reading lists

Search ADR Unit Outlines. Choose from among the recommended reading.

Membership organisations

  • Resolution Institute

Resolution Institute ‘Pulse’ lets you know each month what is going on in Dispute Resolution in Australasia and beyond. There are other RMABs (Recognised Mediator Accreditation Bodies) listed on the MSB (Mediator Standards Board) website below. I am the Chair of Resolution Institute (2007 – present) so you would expect to hear from me that Resolution Institute is where I suggest you start… and where I expect you are likely to land when you are looking for a membership organisation.

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  • IMI (International Mediation Institute)

You will find that IMI is a font of excellent reading. I am a Vice Chair of the IMI Independent Standards Commission.

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Industry publications

In the right-hand menu on the home page of this blog, under ‘Mediation Explained’ you will find Australian and international gems.  I recommend that you read each one.

Qualifying


Read the MSB website from top to toe, starting with the Approval Standards and the Practice Standards. They speak directly to you.

Remain qualified

Like all professions, there is a CPD (Continuing Professional Development) requirement of nationally accredited mediators. You will find it explained in the Standards on the MSB website.

Participating


  • Resolution Institute
    • Volunteer for Resolution Institute role-play for others’ accreditation assessment
    • Attend Resolution Institute networking meetings.
    • Enrol for Professional Development in the form of webinars and much more.
  • SCRAM (Schools Conflict Resolution and Mediation) Program
    • Volunteer for SCRAM
    • Introduce SCRAM into a High School where you are well known
    • SCRAM is an interactive role play competition for Western Australian Years 9 and 10 high school students.
    • It facilitates the development of peaceful dispute resolution awareness and skills in secondary school communities. Students mediate simulated disputes which relate to their everyday lives.
    • SCRAM is an initiative of the Western Australian Dispute Resolution Association (WADRA).

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  • Mentor

Approach experienced mediators. Invite them, one at a time, for coffee. Offer to do some clerical work for a mediator with whom you find some reciprocated affinity.

Promoting


  • Create your opportunities
    • Participate in all activities with the mindset of an mediator – you will be noticed
    • Identify highly competent mediators so that you can refer work to them – you will benefit by association
    • Tweet and selectively retweet on aspects of mediation
    • Develop your mediation profile for distribution to people who know you to be reliable, calm and diligent
    • Offer to present to groups of people who know you to be well informed, clear and considered
    • Volunteer at community mediation programs
    • Volunteer at mediation training sessions
    • Write a blog then convert it to a short article for a suitable audience
    • Seek feedback during and following participation and thank all who provide feedback

Preparing


  • Read ‘From scholar to dollar’ by Anna Harrison

From Scholar ro Dollar
By following the 15 simple steps outlined in this book,you can arm yourself with the auxiliary skills needed to
make your transition from scholar to dollar both seamless and successful.

  • Seek out support for your small business including from Small Business Development Corporations
  • Develop your draft business plan
  • Prepare your mediation correspondence templates then edit, edit edit… according to current conventions. Err on the side of formality.
  • Review all aspects of your (potential) practice as if through the eyes of a disgruntled client who has ‘gone public’ with your actions and/or your correspondence
  • Prepare your marketing plan
  • Identify panels of mediators – develop your application to each so that you know what you know and can do and what you’ve yet to learn

Good luck!