How do I Become a Family Mediator?

Carol Francois

The process to become a family mediator requires a combination of formal post-secondary education and related experience. Many people who are interested in psychology, family law or law enforcement want to become a family mediator. This type of work can be both demanding and rewarding. The burnout rate is quite low when compared to that of social workers or lawyers who focus on family law.

Mediation training should offer students opportunities to practice their new skills with others.
Mediation training should offer students opportunities to practice their new skills with others.

The first step in order to become a family mediator is to complete a minimum undergraduate degree in psychology, social work or a related field. Many fully trained lawyers switch to family mediation after 10 to 14 years of practice. This work primarily focuses on helping families to navigate differences, come together and face adversity as a unit. This is a much better alternative to the combative nature of family law.

A family mediator should be well-trained in ways to diffuse emotional situations.
A family mediator should be well-trained in ways to diffuse emotional situations.

Experience that can be helpful when looking to make this career transition includes professional counseling, debate moderation, team building and conflict management. All these roles require excellent listening and communication skills. The ability to encourage people to speak and to train them in active listening is an important part of becoming a family mediator.

Mediation helps families navigate differences, come together and face adversity as a unit.
Mediation helps families navigate differences, come together and face adversity as a unit.

Many people who want to become a family mediator feel that personal experience with family issues is all that is required. However, this is not the case. A professional mediator must be able to provide objective assistance to the family, following an accepted methodology. Some people turn to their religious leader for family mediation, drawing upon his or her extensive training in counseling to help resolve issues.

Some states have licensing requirements for anyone who wants to become a family mediator. He or she is required to complete a specific training program, perform mediation under the supervision of a trained family mediator and attend a psychological evaluation. There often are annual educational requirements to maintain this license, ensuring that all mediators are actively learning and keeping their skills current.

There are several different employment opportunities for a family mediator, including a position at a family counseling agency, a mediation center or a government agency. Many divorce lawyers actively refer clients to family mediation centers as a first step in resolving their issues. Some states and countries have already changed the family court laws to make meditation mandatory for certain types of family issues or disputes.

Many family mediators have their own professional counselor that they rely on. The confidential nature of the work prevents the mediator from releasing stress by talking about his or her day with family members and friends. Talking to a professional counselor can be a way for a family mediator to release pressure and stay focused.

The burnout rate for a family mediator is quite low.
The burnout rate for a family mediator is quite low.

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