How Do I Choose the Best Mediation Education?

Laura M. Sands

In order to choose the best mediation education, you will need to know what the qualifications are for recommended mediators in the area where you intend to work. Before choosing mediation training, you should be sure that the school or program has a good reputation in the industry and offers a well-rounded selection of mediation courses. The mediation education you choose should be one that offers a comprehensive education, has a strong track record of training successful mediators currently working in the industry and operates with the highest training ethics.

Some mediators specialize in divorce cases.
Some mediators specialize in divorce cases.

While there are no specific licensing requirements in most jurisdictions, individual courts and other agencies often only recommend mediators who have been educated by a government-approved mediation program. In some instances, agencies only recommend mediators who hold a college degree in law, social work, teaching or related fields. In many instances, the only mediators who are able to work with court-appointed clients are those who also have a license to practice law. Official agencies that appoint mediators who do not hold a law degree still expect mediators to have undergone a certain amount of training from an accredited program before issuing a referral.

It will also benefit you to choose mediation classes according to the recommendation of a reputable professional mediation organization. While classes are often taught at community colleges and through private organizations, not all classes teach the same mediation models and philosophies. Specifically, look for mediation classes that focus on: facilitative mediation, where questions are posed to each side in a neutral manner to help them resolve their issues; evaluative mediation, in which mediators make actual recommendations; and transformative mediation, where the goal is to transform each party while creating a satisfactory resolution. Learning these models is important, as these are the most commonly used and recommended mediation methods within the industry.

While researching your mediation education options, narrow your choices by eliminating classes taught by instructors who do not have ample experience working within the field and who do not personally belong to reputable mediation professional organizations. Instructors should also currently sit on one or more dispute resolution panels and should be perfectly willing to offer you evidence of such participation upon request. Diligently researching an instructor’s professional mediation involvement is an important step in choosing the best mediation education.

Choose the mediation education program that offers training on the principles of mediation, as well as stresses high ethical standards and the importance of cultural sensitivities and insight into working with attorneys. Good mediation education training will also instruct you on the various stages of mediation with a heavy focus on the mediator’s role in any model being used. Ultimately, choose the mediation education that offers all of these core elements and that you feel will do the best in preparing you to work in the field.

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