“What is the Divorce Mediator’s Role in Addressing the Emotional Challenges of Divorce?” In this article professional Divorce and Family Mediator, David Louis, explores how the divorce mediation process differs from therapy, but identifies common skills shared by many divorce mediators and therapists.
The article offers insight into how personal and transformative mediation and collaborative divorce can be.
“Mediation Isn’t Therapy – But Mediators and Therapists Share Common Gifts”
“Divorce is a life changing event. Divorce mediation clients often wonder about the role of the divorce mediator in helping them to cope with the emotional challenges of divorce and begin the healing process. As a divorce mediator and as a neutral facilitator in Collaborative Divorce cases, I am constantly reminded from my extensive training that mediation is not intended to be a therapeutic practice.”
“As neutrals when we are mediating with a divorcing couple, it is inappropriate for us to “fix the problem”; instead we use our training and experience to assist our clients in communicating with each other to achieve understanding to plan futures, using mediation instead of costly litigation to create their solutions. When I finish mediation with a couple, I often sense their relief at being free to continue their life journey, with the certainty of the terms that I have helped them plan for their futures apart. When I reflect on how mediators are able to achieve breakthroughs in understanding, and transform conflict into problem solving, I see these gifts of the mediator in the same light as the gifts of a therapist, who through their understanding of the fragile self, coupled with listening skills, treat their clients by providing tools of understanding, coping and healing. Over the years, I have come to know many wonderful mental health professionals, whether they call themselves Therapists, Psychologists, Counselors, or Social Workers. I will often refer clients to a therapist to complement the work I am doing in mediation. I receive referrals as well from many therapists who acknowledge that mediation is far preferable to litigation for the health and well being of their clients. I know of many positive outcomes from mediators and therapists taking an interdisciplinary and holistic approach to addressing the needs of someone in the midst of divorce. We share and employ the same gifts and tools: compassion, empathy, professionalism and an overall mission to make the world a better place, one person, couple, or conversation at a time.”