General Mediation Information

What is mediation?
The advantages of mediation
Mediation facts & figures
Tips on selecting a private mediator


What is mediation?

Mediation is a process in which a trained, impartial person (or panel) helps disputing parties communicate and understand their concerns and needs in a situation, identify and consider possible solution options, reach a mutually agreeable solution and put the agreement into a written form. A mediator has no decision-making authority. Unlike a judge or an arbitrator, a mediator does not decide what is right or wrong or make suggestions about ways to resolve a problem. Mediation is based on the voluntary cooperation and good faith participation of all parties. Although participation in some mediation programs may be mandatory, reaching agreement is always voluntary.

Mediation is different from counseling, therapy or advocacy. The mediator does not take sides or push for any one solution. Mediators maintain a neutral role. Mediation focuses on the future, not the past, and what will resolve the conflict. Mediation does not replace the need for legal advice or counseling if your “rights” in a situation are the concern.

In addition to the general principles described here, some situations which are appropriate for mediation may be governed by state laws, court rules or local ordinances. It is your responsibility to make sure that any agreement you reach in mediation is in compliance with the law.
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The advantages of mediation

In addition to the fact that it is voluntary, mediation is a much less formal process than arbitration or litigation. Sessions are usually scheduled at a time and location convenient to all parties. Disputes are often resolved in less time through mediation than litigation. A typical mediation session lasts two to three hours and most issues are resolved in one session. Because the parties are directly responsible for developing the terms of an agreement, they are more likely to keep the agreement. Participants in mediation reach agreements about 80% of the time and keep those agreements about 90% of the time. Even if a written agreement is not reached, parties may lay groundwork for future agreements by opening lines of communication.

Mediation is private. With the exception of some disputes involving public agencies, mediation sessions are not held in public. All communications and documents, including work notes, made or used during a mediation session are confidential. Under California law, a mediator cannot be required to testify about what was said or written in a mediation if the issue ends up in court.

A successful mediation process can help parties to:

  • improve communications
  • define issues and concerns
  • clarify viewpoints, interests and positions
  • generate options and alternatives for resolving problems
  • reach general understandings
  • develop a settlement agreement that:
    • is practical / realistic / workable to implement
    • meets the needs of all parties
    • is durable over time
  • improve relationships
  • reduce the time and cost associated with resolving disputes

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Mediation Facts & Figures

Information taken from: “NAFCM: On the Move” by Larry Ray, Executive Director, National Association for Community Mediation, Better Business Bureau Solutions, January 1997.

History
The roots of community mediation are in seeking a better way to resolve conflicts and improve and complement the legal system. Citizens, religious leaders, communities became empowered, realizing they could solve many complaints and disputes in their own communities using mediation. Community Mediation Programs now flourish all across the United States.

National Association for Community Mediation
Founded in 1996, currently represents 225 member organizations in 44 states, US territories and other countries.

Community Mediation Program Statistics

  • More than 550 community mediation programs function in the US (grown from 10 comunity mediation centers in 1976.)
  • 19,500+ volunteer mediators
  • 76,000 citizens trained by community mediation programs
  • More than 97,500 disputes (cases) referred on an annual basis
  • More than 45, 500 disputes (cases) mediated on an annual basis

Typical community mediation program has staff of 1.5 full time equivalent staff members, 30 active mediators, operates on a budget of $40,000, receives 150 referrals per year and mediates 70 cases per year.

Typical program involved in wide variety of disputes: neighborhood, interpersonal, juvenile, school, victim/offender, court cases and a large number of innovative applications involving prisons, construction sites, AIDS, ADA, race relations, citizen involvement, public policy, agriculture, employment, workplace, community policing, business/ corporate disputes.
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Tips on selecting a private mediator

PCRC is one option if are looking for mediation serivces. You may decide that you would prefer to use a private mediator. The following list of questions may serve as a starting point for interviewing a potential private mediator. These questions have been designed to assist you in selecting a mediator who will provide you the services that are best suited to your specific needs.

Background:

  • Where and when did you receive your training as a mediator?
  • Did that training involve supervised practice?
  • How many cases have you mediated? Were any of those situations similar to mine?
  • Do you have professional training or experience in another field, in addition to mediation?
  • Do you subscribe to a professional code of ethics? Do you have a copy of that code?
  • Do you belong to a professional mediation organization?
  • Can you provide me with references from people who have used your services?
  • What style of mediation do you prefer? Directive? Facilitative? Transformative? Other?
  • Are your mediation sessions confidential? Is there a signed agreement?
  • How long and how frequent are mediation sessions?
  • What are your fees? Are they competitive? Do you offer a sliding scale?
  • What is included in your fees? Are there any additional costs?

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