Mediation, Meditation, Medication? Just what is Mediation?
Mediation is a consensual process in which an impartial third person, the mediator, assists two or more parties to reach a voluntary agreement. The process can be used to resolve a dispute or provide options for the future. The mediator helps the parties identify their individual needs and interests, clarify their differences, generate options and find common ground. A few points to keep in mind:
• The parties are the decision makers; the mediator has no authority to render a decision.
• The parties determine the issues that need to be addressed; the mediator guides the process and maintains a safe environment.
• The mediator models and facilitates active listening skills.
• The mediator does not give advice to the parties, legal or otherwise. However, the mediator may help the parties generate options for the parties to evaluate, possibly with the advice and assistance of another professional.
• The process is usually confidential, with any exceptions disclosed and discussed prior to beginning a mediation.
• The success of mediation rests largely on the willingness of the parties to work at understanding each other and to seek solutions that meet each other's needs.
What Mediation Is Not:
• Mediation is not litigation. Litigation is the formal legal process in which parties use the court process to resolve their disputes. The judge or jury determine the outcome of this process, unless a negotiated settlement is reached first.
• Mediation is not arbitration. Arbitration is a form of private adjudication, where parties present evidence and argument to an impartial third person (the arbitrator). The arbitrator then reviews the evidence and renders a decision which may be imposed on the parties. The arbitrator determines the outcome, much as a judge determines the outcome of a trial.
• Mediation is not counseling or therapy. The primary goal of mediation is to reach an agreement, not to resolve the feelings associated with the dispute. That being said, counseling or therapy used in conjunction with mediation can be a helpful approach.
Why choose Mediation?
Mediation approaches disputes from a fresh perspective. Instead of looking backward to decide who is at fault, it looks forward to what agreements the parties can reach to resolve their disputes or govern their future interactions. The mediator uses his or her skills to help parties understand each other's needs and interests to find common ground. From these, the parties begin to generate options. The options are not based on "giving in" or compromise of any principle. Instead, they are based on a search for creative ways to resolve differences and meet identified needs.
Agreements are reached only when the parties all agree. Because mediated agreements are voluntary, they are more likely to be followed by all parties. With mediation, you are in control of the outcome.