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CAOTICA - Mediator Accreditation, Red Herring, Rip-off or Real Sign of Quality?
November 22, 2011
Training from CAOS Conflict Management:
And where is it proven that the accreditations provided do indeed give a guarantee of 'quality'? I have met many 'accredited' mediators who, while extolling the virtues of the philosophies of mediation, their description of their practice frightens me with the directive, adversarial, partial, and judgemental nature of their approach, which is in direct contradiction of their espoused philosophy.
I think that as a body of practitioners we are at risk of spending more time pursuing 'professionalisation' and gaining 'status' than we do ensuring we provide a client-led process that is customer focused, cost effective, and leads to sustainable, genuine resolution of conflict whether in the field of complaints, damaged relationships or contractual disagreements.
This preoccupation often detracts from ensuring that what is offered is genuinely an alternative to the adversarial processes traditionally available for responding to conflict. Much of the practice espoused by some accredited mediators I have conversed with are little different from the directive, advocating approach of a lawyer, where they consider their role to be one of diagnosis and recommendation. How is that an alternative?
So, to those interested in training to be a Mediator I would say the following:
Ask yourself, and the training provider:
Remember: There has been no objective research into the different training approaches taken in mediation and their consequent effectiveness for clients, so be aware that what you are paying for has not been objectively proven to ensure you are an effective practitioner. Our recommendation for our training at CAOS is based on the model having been used consistently in areas of practice for the last 15 years, not on simply having been externally 'accredited', particularly by organisations that are not themselves rooted in mediation practice.
Academic and Theoretical or Practical and Experiential?
Mediation is a simple process, and importantly so. It offers an informal, confidential, safe and creative space in which to find a more amicable, more co-operative and self-supporting way forward in a difficult situation. It can be entered into, completed and left behind in a short space of time.
There is a risk that this highly effective and disciplined practice is made inaccessible to both new practitioners and clients by portraying it as an academically challenging endeavour rather than a personally challenging skill.
Mediation is a skill and discipline that improves with continuous reflection and experiential learning, not an academic topic that is completed once a course is over.
The notion of 'mediator accreditation' is potentially a Red Herring for people wanting to enter into this rewarding discipline, as it suggests it is 'necessary' before one can start to practise.
It is potentially a Rip-off because it suggests a limited access to the discipline and thus implies a higher price can be charged for this (and ever higher as more 'exclusive' accreditations are developed - as is already being seen in the field of Family Mediation for separating couples).
And it is occasionally a Real Sign of Quality if it is gained as a result of experience of mediation and demonstrated commitment to reflective learning from that experience and not through simply attending a course.
To try to bring these together under one form of 'accreditation' would be placing the quality and effectiveness of practice secondary to being seen as a 'united process'.
It is not united.
The world of mediation includes many variations of interpretation and practice, many of which I would question regarding their purpose and long-term effectiveness as a genuinely alternative means of responding to unresolved conflict.
But to deny the difference exists would be like any denial of unresolved difference - to put the lid on a boiling pot that will have to burst open at some point in the future.
Much of the time, mediator accreditation is, indeed, a red herring. Quite often it's level of importance is over-exaggerated to the extent that it places new trainees at risk of being ripped off.
The only sign of real quality is to be found in whether a training fulfils its purpose of providing an effective introduction for trainees to the skills, practices and philosophies of mediation, and, in turn, those newly trained practitioners provide an effective, genuinely alternative means of responding to unresolved conflict for clients, that differs significantly and philosophically from the adversarial 'expert led' approaches that have traditionally been used.
I'm happy with the latter being my benchmark and it is the benchmark which I apply to other mediators who I ask to work for CAOS. Accredited or not.
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CAOS Conflict Management will be running Conflict Coaching Training Courses. The CAOS Conflict Coaching model was developed over a period of 2 years with clients from all across London bringing a range of unresolved personal conflicts within their families,or at work or in their community, to the coaching sessions. The foundations of the process are based on the CAOS Model Principles and Underlying Philosophies of Mediation.
Our training has already been used to train Conflict Coaches at a range of organisations including Brunel University.
Visit our Conflict Coaching Training page to find out more and register your interest.
If you think Conflict Coaching would be of interest to people in your organisation, please visit our Workplace Conflict Coaching page.
Please contact CAOS Conflict Management on 020 3371 7507 if you are interested in any of our services or training, or visit our website by clicking on the CAOTICA banner below.