My journey to becoming a family mediator
In 2015 I started my training as a family mediator, after having been a family magistrate for a number of years. My work in the court had created an interest in working with families, but I had felt frustrated and limited by what I could achieve within an hour in a court room and in many cases any agreements reached were not long lasting and families would ultimately return to court.
My initial training with the Family Mediation Association (FMA) gave me a basic insight into family mediation and allowed me to see that there was another route to resolving family issues than just going to court. The training allowed me to look at my existing skills and how I could apply them effectively within mediation and also identify my skills gaps. I also had to make the transition from being a family magistrate issuing court orders to becoming a mediator supporting families in finding a lasting resolution.
Following the completion of my foundation course, I started a placement with a mediation firm in the north of England and in 2017 finally submitted my portfolio of work to the Family Mediation Council (FMC).
What it is like being a family mediator
Even though I am now accredited by the FMC, I believe my personal development as a mediator is constant; there is no end point. It is a process of education not just from books and the law, but also from seeing and understanding people who are going through the process. It is unending, so the transition will continue as long as I am involved in mediation. There will be recognised points of competence, personal and external, during my journey, which will hopefully enable me to work more effectively.
To further consolidate my knowledge and abilities I am keen to continue with a wide field of study, more specifically relating to the impact of immigration in the mediation room (I previously worked an immigration law firm as a lawyer for 10 years) – a more pressing concern with the proposed legislative changes regarding the jurisdiction of the European Convention of Human Rights and its replacement (provisionally named the UK Bill of Rights). Given the history of open borders across Europe and the ease of travel that the last 40 years has brought, it is anticipated that there will be an increasingly international dimension to family breakdown and so impact on the mediation room in the future.
In conclusion, I am here as a family mediator at Direct Mediation Services and I have learned that the only long term solution can be found through talking; it is not an easy role to take and it requires great skill, sensitivity and empathy to the couple concerned. As Churchill said, “Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen.” It is I, the mediator who helps create the balance.
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