The Mediation Journey
My goal as your Mediator is to empower you to make decisions about what you and your family need as you work through your divorce, separation, or other challenges. And in this context, when I say “you,” I mean you and your partner/spouse.
You are in this situation together and there are many paths you can choose as you travel from where you are standing today, to where you hope to be in the future.
All divorces start and end the same way: All starts with a decision to get divorced and all end with a judge stamping a paper that makes you officially divorced. But in between these common beginnings and endings, you will face many choices – many decisions that are unique to you and your family, and that will determine whether, how and when you will achieve the vision you have for your future.
One of the first big decisions you will face together is how are you going to get divorced – what divorce process will you choose?
Will you primarily rely on judges and courts to make decisions and resolve your disputes for you, or will you choose a path that allows and encourages you to make your own agreements and resolutions?
Are you going to work together to find solutions that meet all your interests, or will you approach this journey as adversaries, each trying to convince an outside decision-maker to side with you against the other?
Choosing Mediation means choosing to walk a peaceful path together, as resolution partners, toward the common goal of creating an enduring agreement that will sustain you, and your family, long into the future.
If you are reading this, you have already begun this journey. You began it by learning that you have choices to make. The path continues by taking a closer look at what Mediation is, how it works, and what makes it different from the other paths you might choose.
You are standing on the ledge, bound together.
Many people describe going through divorce or separation as standing on a ledge or mountaintop, high above the clouds, terrified of falling into the abyss. Many feel alone and afraid, uncertain of what awaits them below the fog. When I ask people to describe what else they see and feel up there “on the ledge,” many tell me they see themselves standing there with their partner/spouse and children, all bound together by an invisible rope.
It is worth taking a moment to contemplate this incredibly powerful image. Close your eyes and picture it. Consider the implications.
What happens if you fall? What happens if, in anger, you push your spouse/partner away from you, off the proverbial cliff?
When you are all bound together, who suffers the consequences?
And even if you somehow broke those bonds, would you not still be standing on the ledge alone?
Mediation is your guided journey home.
When you realize and accept that you are standing on the ledge and you are bound together, you can begin to understand the power of Mediation. Mediation is your guided path home – a way to travel down the mountain, through the clouds – safely, peacefully, together.
As your Mediator, I am your guide, helping you find your path and reach the destination you choose together as your own. Because I have walked with many people down many mountains, I will be there to help you create safe passages that will lead you home.
Sometimes the paths will not be easy to see. Sometimes they will be hard to walk. But with help and guidance - with skillful facilitation – you can complete this journey, even when (indeed, because!) you're all tied together.
As you carve and walk your path down the mountain, I will walk with you, but never for you. As your Mediator, I am your guide and helper, but the path will always be yours to walk. When you choose Mediation, you choose to do the walking yourselves, with skillful guidance. It is hard, sometimes exhausting, to blaze and walk your own path. I will be there with you, every step of the way, shining light on the path you are carving, helping you up when you stumble, and pointing you toward the confidence and inner strength that will sustain you along your peaceful path home.
The journey down the mountain begins with the choice not to jump or push each other off the ledge. It continues with the choice to instead walk together down the mountain, with skillful help. The next step is to learn how to walk the path of Mediation, which – like any elegant dance – has its own steps, rules, and vocabulary. Let’s take a closer look at all of this together.
The Definition of Mediation
We have talked about Mediation as a guided journey home. We have seen how it is like blazing a path down a mountain together, with help from a guide. It is also a lot like walking over a bridge, a bridge you and your partner choose to build together.
Here is a picture I took of a stone bridge:
Notice the path it offers. It is narrow, with no visible guardrails. To walk even this simple bridge will take balance, care, and confidence. It was too heavy for one person to put in place, but once placed properly, it can carry many people safely.
When learning and thinking about your Mediation process it helps to keep images of journeys, paths, and bridges in your mind. Mediation is the bridge you build together over the troubled waters of your conflict. It needs to be strong enough to support your whole family but it can never do the walking for you.
Whether you think of it as concrete, stone, or steel, the bridge you will build in your Mediation will be made of several essential “ingredients,” which together make this definition:
Mediation is a voluntary, collaborative, confidential process by which people who are in conflict, resolve their disputes, peacefully, with help from a skillful neutral conflict resolution professional.
What this definition teaches us is that the bridge you are building in Mediation is one that that stands atop four solid pillars – “The Four Pillars of Mediation.”