What is mediation?
Mediation is a structured process for resolving disagreements. Mediators are neutral and their role is to encourage open and honest discussion between people who are in conflict. Mediators act as intermediaries and therefore don’t make suggestions or give opinions. Instead they do whatever they can to encourage a productive conversation to take place. In order to do this a mediator may prompt or remind, but will do so whilst maintaining a neutral position. Mediation is often used when people get stuck and find it difficult to move forward.
What does the mediation process involve?
The mediator first speaks to the person who has made the enquiry and asks some questions in order to ensure that mediation is appropriate. The mediator then meets with both people separately, in order to fully understand each person’s perspective. The mediator will keep all information confidential from the other party. After the mediator has met with each person individually, a joint meeting is held. At this meeting the mediator will encourage a conversation to take place. The focus will be on identifying needs and turning them into agreed goals. When a consensus has been achieved the mediator will draw up an agreement, which both parties will sign.
How can I decide if mediation is right for me?
Mediation is likely to be most successful in situations in which:
- There are realistic, achievable goals, which can be described.
- The client feels it is important for the professional to understand their experience.
- The client wants an apology, acknowledgement or some other realistic form of redress.
- The client still values aspects of their relationship with the professional.
Mediation is less likely to be successful in situations in which:
- The professional’s actions raise serious concerns for public protection.
- The client wants a ‘judgement’ about the professional’s actions from a third party.
- The client intends to sue the professional in the civil courts.
- The client has not been left with any positive feelings about the professional.
What are the benefits of mediation?
Mediation has many benefits and in certain circumstances can give a more restorative outcome than a formal complaints process. The main benefits are:
The matter is resolved quickly. We can usually arrange a mediation within a couple of weeks. A formal complaints process will usually take a minimum of six months, sometimes much longer.
It is designed to be constructive. This is because the emphasis in mediation is on cooperation and reaching agreement. In contrast, most complaints processes are adversarial in nature and tend to encourage defensive ways of being. As such, each side in a complaint is encouraged to present its case in very black and white terms - to show it’s self to be in the right and the other side to be in the wrong. The consequence of this is that productive dialogue is discouraged. Few people leave a complaints process feeling that they have been listened to or understood. In addition, there is little space for professionals to take responsibility or offer apologies or redress.
It may be possible to agree some form of redress. Complaints processes are designed to protect the public; they are not designed to offer any form of redress to the complainant. This means that despite a lengthy and stressful process, the regulatory body is not set up to offer acknowledgement or compensation. In contrast, it may be possible, as part of mediation, to agree some form of realistic redress (such as for some fees to be repaid). It may also be possible to reach agreement about the professional undertaking further training in order to improve their practice.
Apologies and acknowledgements are much more likely to result from a mediation than from a complaints process. Apologies are rarely made during a complaints process. A professional is much more likely to accept responsibility during mediation.
Both parties undertake to keep the mediation confidential and so no one other than the mediator will know about the events being discussed. With a complaints process many people will see the complaint.
How much does mediation cost?
We charge £800 for a full mediation service. This is for everything including initial discussion, travel, writing the mediation agreement and follow up call. The only thing not included in this is hiring a venue.
Why should I use a mediator from the Clinic for Boundaries Studies?
A mediator from the Clinic for Boundaries Studies will be fully qualified to the highest level of mediation training available in the UK (level 4). A mediator from the Clinic will also have a specialist understanding of the kind of harm that can results from damaged professional relationships. This makes us uniquely qualified to mediate in difficulties in professional relationships. This understanding works for both parties because we understand both the dynamics of harm and the kind of acknowledgement people usually need in order to move on.