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What is mediation?
Mediation is a set of processes for resolving disputes. It is often practised from a legal or paralegal mindset. It is certainly true that some conflicts require a mediator with a deep knowledge of relevant legislation. However, many disputes are far better resolved using a more person-centred approach.
Why resolving disputes isn’t easy
It is my belief and experience that people do not actively set out to create the pain, hostility and distrust that are a feature of so many disputes. Whenever people get into dispute they do so for a good reason.
However, these reasons almost always lie beneath the surface. If they are not brought to light no amount of well-intentioned dispute resolution at the surface level can bring about genuine justice for all parties involved.
In a dispute, we will generally have a good sense of:
- what we want or don’t want
- what we don’t like/reject about the other parties’ demands.
As long as the mediation process stays within this frame the best that can occur is a ‘least-worst’ outcome. Hardly a recipe for resolution!
My approach is based on the process-oriented psychology of Arnold Mindell and the stunning work of Bruce Ecker, Laurel Hulley and their colleagues.
This approach recognises that in any dispute we will hold two positions:
- a conscious position (such as “this is what I am entitled to and I’m not budging unless I have no choice”)
- an unconscious position (that is, what makes it important to hold the conscious position we do)
When the mediation process allows the unconscious positions of all parties involved in the dispute to be articulated and explored, the path of resolution presents itself and each party genuinely gains.
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