What is Mediation?

Mediation, as used in law, is a form of alternative dispute resolution (ADR), is a way of resolving disputes between two or more parties. A third party, the mediator, assists the parties to negotiate their own settlement.  This process is called facilitative mediation – and is the format used by NW Mediation Service.

Mediation has a structure, timetable and dynamics that “ordinary” negotiation lacks. The process is private and confidential. The presence of a mediator is the key distinguishing feature of the process. There may be no obligation to go to mediation, but in some cases, any settlement agreement signed by the parties to a dispute will be binding on them. Views on the efficiency of mediation vary, but in some jurisdictions, senior members of the judiciary (judges in the Supreme Court) favour the use of mediation.SSRN 1599420

Mediators use various techniques to open, or improve, dialogue between disputants, aiming to help the parties reach an agreement (with concrete effects) on the disputed matter. Much depends on the mediator’s skill and training. The mediator must be wholly impartial. Disputants may use mediation in a variety of disputes, such as commercial, legal, diplomatic, workplace, community and family matters.

Mediation is not Counseling.

The list below is not exhaustive but it gives an indication of important distinctions between the work of mediators and counselors.

  • A mediator aims to for clear agreement between the participants as to how they will deal with specific issues. A counselor is more concerned with the parties gaining a better self-understanding of their individual behaviour
  • A mediator, while acknowledging a person’s feelings, does not explore them in any depth. A counselor is fundamentally concerned about how people feel about a range of relevant experiences
  • A mediator is focused upon how people would like to see things in the future rather than a detailed analysis of past events. A counsellor may find it necessary to explore a person’s past in detail to bring out into the open the origins and the patterns of a person’s beliefs and behaviour
  • A mediator controls the process but does not overtly try to influence the participants or the actual outcome. A counselor often takes an intentional role in the process, seeking to influence the parties to move in a particular direction or look at certain issues
  • A mediator relies on both parties being present so they can negotiate, usually face-to-face. A counselor does not necessarily see both parties at the same time.
  • A mediator is required to be neutral. A counselor may play a more supportive role, where appropriate.
  • Mediation requires both parties to be willing to negotiate. Counseling may work with one party even if the other is not ready or willing for change.
  • Mediation is a structured process that is usually restricted to one or a few sessions. Counseling tends to be more ongoing, depending upon a person’s needs and progress.

      Family Mediation  ♦  Workplace Mediation

Business and Commercial Mediation  ♦  Contractual and Property Mediation

NW Mediation Service  PO Box 222   Anacortes, WA  98221   360.299.0977 

email:  info@nwmediationservice.com

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