WHAT IS A supported DIALOGUE?
A supported dialogue is an opportunity for a professional and client to have a conversation in the presence of an independent third party. This may be helpful where a professional relationship is in difficulty, and where both parties feel that a conversation may be helpful. Either the client or professional may initiate a support dialogue, or this may be suggested by a third party such as an employer, supervisor or investigating agency.
HOW DOES A SUPPORTED DIALOGUE DIFFER FROM MEDIATION?
The main difference is that the conversation does not take place in order to reach an agreement or institute any form of redress. It is therefore, not a means to an end – it is an end in itself.
IN WHAT CIRCUMSTANCES WOULD A SUPPORTED DIALOGUE BE PREFERABLE TO MEDIATION?
We have identified some situations in which a supported dialogue may be preferable to mediation - these include:
- When what a client primarily seeks is the opportunity to express themselves and to ask any questions they have been left with.
- Where a professional has taken responsibility for actions that have adversely affected a client and feels that being open to a dialogue may be helpful.
- Where a professional wishes to offer an apology or explanation and the client is open to this.
- When a client would like a conversation about an issue of concern and does not want to use formal complaints procedures.