Psychologically Informed Mediation
This term refers to the specific use of psychologically based principles and awareness to assist parties in better understanding their dispute and in reaching mutually agreeable outcomes. We recognise that in many disputes, mediation offers a constructive alternative to litigation and assists parties where possible to reach consensual agreements. When mediation is unsuccessful, breaks down or is resisted, it is often due to misunderstanding or deeper issues derailing the process. These may include, the parties simply not being prepared from a psychological perspective prior to mediation, or that they fear they may loose control. Frequently they may be concerned that it will turn into a horse trade negotiation which does not acknowledge their psychological needs, or that they may be forced to superficially agree.
There may be deeper dispute dynamics and environmental pressures at play that also impede the conventional mediation process. These may include entrenched negative narratives and rigid belief systems, unaddressed emotional distress and anger, fear, conflict trauma, avoidant communication and the developing pattern of interaction between parties. If these dynamics are not addressed on the correct level, mediation is unlikely to be successful. Sometimes due to perceived animosity or fear and anxiety evoked by the dispute itself, parties may feel they simply cannot engage or cannot feel resourceful in such a process. In our experience the process of mediation can be greatly enhanced if parties are also assisted in developing their conflict intelligence both prior to and during mediation. This allows those involved to not only engage within the process but also to successfully address their dispute on a far deeper level.
At Conflict Intelligence, we offer a unique approach to enhance the mediation process that is not only based upon increasing psychological understanding, to assist parties in reaching their own wise and consensual agreements. We also aim to increase conflict intelligence and where possible constructively intervene between parties, at a much earlier stage in the dispute. This can greatly enhance the process both prior to and during the mediation and lead to a long term transformation of the dispute.
Conventional Mediation, is a consensual process that is uniquely tailored to the individual circumstances of each situation and those attending. Below is a general guide line to the main stages which will be fully augmented and enhanced by developing greater conflict intelligence, both prior to and during the process.
Mediation is ” without prejudice”
All information expressed in mediation is “Without Prejudice” and cannot be used outside or in any possible future proceedings if parties do not agree.
Parties will have the opportunity to become fully conversant with the process of Mediation and express any concerns prior to agreeing to the process.
(This standard phase can be greatly enhanced by assisting both parties to increase their awareness of conflict dynamics, both with regards to themselves and the dispute, it will further explore enhancing communication and developing affective dispute resolution patterns. Please visit developing conflict intelligence section).
Mediators opening statement
The mediation process typically commences with a preliminary explanation from the mediator who explains his/her role to the parties attending. This also includes explaining their neutrality, the aim of the mediation and setting out clear ground rules to be followed by the parties during the process. This clearly aims to create a respectful and safe environment for each party to express themselves and feel heard.
The parties opening statements
Each party, and/or their legal advisors are invited to make a short opening statement without interruption, explaining their position regarding the possible claim or issue they are bringing or defending.
Private caucus sessions
The mediator will meet each party privately to discuss the dispute in confidence. The caucus session will allow each side to explore their needs, concerns and perspectives around the dispute. The aim of this phase is to help each individual party recognise elements of mutual consensus, understanding and possible insight that may become the foundations to future agreement. Private individual sessions will continue to alternate between each party and the mediator, until such time where either side feels comfortable to make proposals or share constructive information they feel relevant. The mediator will work with each party to assist them to make any proposals they feel appropriate in the most productive way. This process will continue until both parties agree that they have reached a “good enough” resolution to settle the dispute.
Final joint session
In some instances, or when requested by the parties, it may be appropriate to offer a further joint session to finalise and shape the more detailed points of an agreement. Whether this session is necessary will depend upon the needs of the parties.
Upon reaching an agreement, the parties will be requested to draw up an agreement that embodies all the main points that have been agreed. A “Heads of Agreement” document is usually drafted immediately after agreement has been reached in mediation. This document is either drafted by the parties themselves, by each party’s legal representatives if present, or with clear direction by the mediator. It is preferable that both parties sign this document before leaving mediation where possible. Once this agreement is signed both sides can take further confidence in that it becomes a legal document. The agreement is then enforceable as if it were the subject of a court order or contract.
All of our mediators are trained and accredited by Regents University London.