Therapeutic Family Mediation
Family Mediators in the UK tend to adopt a ‘problem solving approach.’ Issues are identified for discussion at the first meeting. Mediators facilitate discussion using their experience and skills to engage their energies and those of the participants in constructive negotiation. Parties have a shared interest in bringing things to a satisfactory conclusion. They want to ‘move on.’
In this style of mediation a line is drawn under the past. The focus is on the future. In this way the risk of the mediation becoming diverted into exchanges about past difficulties is, hopefully, minimised. The guiding assumption is that ‘what is past is past, what is done cannot be undone – but we need to move on.’ The issues that need to be resolved following divorce or separation invariably have a very practical aspect:
- How can we organise the children’s time to enable them to maintain their relationship with both parents?
- How are we going to disentangle our finances in a way that enables us to continue to provide for the children?
- How can we fairly share out ‘the assets of the marriage’ between us and go our separate ways?
Such issues can be addressed in a practical, pragmatic way. Mediation helps by maintaining a forum for discussion in which the mediators’ interventions help to ensure that the problem-solving, future focused discussion has the best possible chance of progressing constructively to agreement.
Is therapeutic mediation right for you?
The ‘problem – solving’ approach is the one we generally take at Progressive Mediation. There is, however always a risk that the mediation will in fact be diverted by the intrusion of those powerful emotions that we know are invariably engaged when relationships break up. In some cases relationships will have become so damaged by the breakdown of trust that it seems impossible to work together in any sort of pragmatic way on the problems that need to be addressed. Some such cases may not be suitable for mediation at all. In others we have found that a rather different and more therapeutic approach to problem solving can be effective.
Therapeutic mediation takes the view that it is the way a separated couple are relating to one another that is the key to dealing with the issues arising from their break up. Rather than side-lining the past and focussing on the future, in this approach the parties are encouraged to tell and listen to one another’s stories. In this way it can be possible for them to gain a better understanding of the underlying relationship processes to which they have been subject.
Around the mediation table a perspective can be achieved in which the meaning of what has happened can be understood in ways that rely less heavily on the angry attribution of blame, or other personalised emotional content. The value of this is that it can allow problems which seemed hitherto insuperable to be seen differently. This can be helpful, in terms of finding long term lasting solutions to problems which might otherwise seem intractable. Therapeutic mediation can be particularly relevant in cases in which children may have been caught up in the parental conflict in ways that risk impacting adversely on the child’s long term relationship with one parent or the other.
If we think that therapeutic mediation may be relevant we will discuss this with you prior to the first mediation session. Recognising that this approach is likely to take longer than ‘problem-solving ‘ mediation, and to require a greater commitment on your part we are willing to offer a reduction in our fees, to £400 for five sessions (i.e. £200 per person) when the option of therapeutic mediation is chosen at the first session.