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Model for Basic Mediator Training

The Task Force on Training and Education of the Ethics and Standards Committee of WAM developed the following model for basic mediator training. The Task Force focused upon components of professional training with an eye toward developing pathways to acquire mediator identity and function.

These guidelines are designed to integrate with WAM's Ethical Guidelines for the Practice of Mediation and the Self-Assessment Tool for Mediators. As guidelines for training the model can be used by various programs, by trainers, by persons seeking to hire mediators, persons looking for training, and the general public.

Professional training is not a collage of experiences. Rather it is an integrated program of lectures, demonstrations, role-plays, supervision and observations, which prepare the individual for the competent practice of mediation.

The Task Force approached training with three major assumptions:
1) That emphasis is on fundamentals and attainment of skills so that trainees can acquire sufficient familiarity with the process and substance of mediation;
2) That this core model is compatible with skill enhancement and specialty training programs which require more substantive subject matter; and
3) That continuing education is an expected extension of training and not a substitute for training.

The minimum training should be not less than 40 hours composed of the following 10 Components with emphasis on Component 3: Ethics and Standards of Practice, Component 4: Mediation Process and Techniques, and Component 5: Coached Role Play. And it is strongly recommended that there be an additional 15 hours of practicium.


The Task Force on Training and Education conceptualizes mediation training as consisting of ten essential components. These are likely to be presented in different forms by training agencies.

No fixed order of training experience is implied. However, for continuity across training programs, comprehensive inclusion of these essentials would have to be demonstrated.

Component One - The Nature of Conflict: Theory and Practice

The causes of conflict, the dynamics of conflict and a general introduction to conflict theory are presented.

Emphasis is placed on the expectation of conflict in everyday life and the mediator's ability to perceive conflict in various contexts. Alternative views of conflict are shared.

Component Two - Personal Evaluation: Self-awareness of Mediator 

Mediator self-awareness is fostered through evaluation. How one affects the mediation process, what problems may be caused by the mediator, what attributes of the mediator can move the parties along in the process and the diversity of parties are reviewed.

Self-assessment tools may be used to focus on improving the mediator's understanding of self and what one brings as a person to the mediation process. Strategies are given for management of personal variables.

Component Three - Ethics and Standards of Practice

Ways in which standards of practice and ethics apply to various aspects of mediator behavior are addressed. WAM ethical guidelines, Supreme Court rules, and standards of practice from national organizations are reviewed. Other professional codes of ethics that also may apply are considered. Special attention is given to advocacy issues regarding attorney relationships, domestic abuse representatives and other special advocacy interests.

Ethics and standards apply to all aspects of training and are referred to at each appropriate application in the training experience.


Component Four - Mediation Process and Techniques 

This covers technical and theoretical material including introductions, initial prospective/story telling, identifying and framing issues, problem solving, generating and evaluating options, identifying solutions and dealing with impasse.

This includes skills such as listening, asking relevant questions and developing language to encourage communications. Written and oral communication skills which address writing agreements and settlements, establishing dialogue and facilitating message sending/receiving are included.


Component Five - Coached Role Play

The presence of an experienced coach-mediator is essential for training in mediation. Coached mediation applies to both the acquisition of specific skills and the application of these skills to mediation examples. Role playing may or may not be separately presented but is utilized in every major step in the training process.


Component Six - The Origin of Referrals: Court and Other Sources

How mediation fits into the overall dispute resolution process, including court procedure, is reviewed. County differences and inter-state comparisons are made. The focus is on how cases are initiated and ended. This includes what kinds of questions are asked to identify the client and to assess where the case needs to go for appropriate disposition. How people get into mediation (e.g., self-referral, court referral, human resources) and what expectations are made of the process itself are reviewed.


Component Seven - Case Management: Process and Quality Assurance

Management of practical matters such as forms, documents, billing and fees as well as the establishment of an appropriate mediation environment are reviewed.

Pre-mediation strategies are discussed. These include general gathering of information about the conflict and the decision-making process regarding the appropriateness of mediation for the problem.

Evaluations by the mediator and by the parties regarding the process and the outcome are suggested. File management is reviewed regarding record keeping, distribution of documents and summaries.


Component Eight - Special Concerns and Applications

A sample of special applications is reviewed. This might include, but not be limited to, the following: telephone mediation, group/multi-party mediation, co-mediation.

Accommodation for special needs of parties is reviewed (e.g., ADA requirements, interpreters, cognitive/emotional challenges to understanding the process, physical environment restrictions.)

Specific situations are addressed, such as family business needs, guardianship mediation, medical decision making, retirement and work site mediation.


Component Nine - Community Resources Information

To respond to questions that arise about issues beyond the mediation, an awareness of resources for the mediator and clients is necessary. Brief presentations of available resources and how to access them are given with caution not to be clinical (diagnosis/treatment), but informational (where help is available.)

Brochures of resources may be distributed.


Component Ten - Training Evaluation

This includes a formal evaluation of the training experience itself by the participants. Commentary is solicited by trainers and incorporated in quality assurance for the program.


When a trainee has completed the 10-track series a minimum of an additional 15 hours of practical experience is strongly recommended. This experience includes mentoring, observation and co-mediation in a reasonable balance. Supervision by an experienced mediator utilizing real mediation cases is expected.


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