Mediation: Is It One Size Fits All?

Mat Wirove, Calgary Family Lawyer

With alternative dispute resolution increasing in Family and Divorce actions, parties have likely been recommended to attempt mediation. Good advice – mediation has numerous benefits, not the least of which is its cost effectiveness.

But, is mediation the same for everyone?

Contrary to perception, there are different models of mediation that can be used for your particular Family or Divorce action. Knowing the models available can likely help you decide what would be best for your unique situation.

The types of mediation include, but are not limited to:

  • Structured
  • Interest Based
  • Therapeutic
  • Insight
  • Trauma-Informed

Structured mediation, also referred to as ‘brief’ mediation, focuses on settling the conflict quickly based on pre-existing rules and laws. Mediators are task-oriented, and the parties are generally in a good head space, able to separate feelings from the issues that must be resolved. Parties engaged in a Dispute Resolution Office meeting through the Court would likely participate in structured mediation.

Interest Based mediation is the most common model of mediation. The mediator assists parties to explore matters at issue between them and identify what is most important. Once identified, parties explore options for settlement and create an agreement that addresses as many of their interests as possible. The key to resolving conflict? Establish mutual understandings and engage in joint problem solving. This is beneficial to forging long term solutions for separating and divorcing parties.

Therapeutic mediation is not true therapy but has therapeutic type results. Similar to Interest Based mediation, the underlying causes of the parties’ conflict are brought to the fore with a view to improving the relationship and resolving the dispute. Formal decision-making steps are usually postponed until the relationship issues have been dealt with, prompting resolution rather than just settlement.

In Insight mediation, the idea is that new understandings are required for conflict to be resolved. Learning more about oneself and seeing one’s behaviours through the eyes of others can release parties from recurring patterns that block their ability to avoid conflict. The benefit of Insight mediation is that this approach accesses learning methods to intervene in conflict rather than simply relying on negotiation and problem-solving practices.

Trauma-Informed mediation is best utilized when some extreme form of family suffering has occurred. An approach still relatively new in its implementation, Trauma-Informed mediation has been shown to benefit parties in Family and Divorce actions complicated by the spectre of violence. Central to Trauma-Informed mediation? The creation of a safe, transparent space where parties can address the trauma, meaningfully deal with its consequences, and make choices on shared decisions.

Your family law mediator is likely to be trained in all models, with their primary focus being on Interest Based Mediation. Parties can request specific approaches with mediators and knowing the type of processes that can be used can help you decide the best mediation model for your Family or Divorce action. It should be noted: the mediation model best suited to your circumstances may change during the process, and a mediator may even switch models depending on the issues that arise. For example, a mediation may commence with parties having a small amount of property to divide and an attitude of swift resolution, prompting the use of Structured mediation to reach a compromise. However, when it is revealed that there are also arguments concerning parenting competence, a shift towards Therapeutic mediation may assist in arriving at longer term agreements.

The Mediators at Crossroads Law are trained in all models of mediation and can assist with resolving your conflicts outside the court room. Call today for a free 20-minute consultation.

Learn more about Mediation here

The information contained in this blog is not legal advice and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject. The information provided in this blog is for informational purposes only.