Introduction to Mediation


Domenici and Littlejohn describe introduction in the 4 part mediation process as usually consisting of:

Introduction of mediators and parties, some words of encouragement, an explanation of the process and definitions of mediation and the mediator’s role, ground rules or communication guidelines, confidentiality provisions, caucus possibility, signing the agreement to mediate, and asking for questions (2001, p.65)

With this as a basis, if we as mediators were to approach two or more disputants in a surgery related dispute, such as specialist, hospital assigned doctor, trainer, patient, spouse, family doctor, we might begin to build our introduction in the following way.

  1. Since parties are likely familiar with each other, maybe we could reintroduce the roles of those involved, e.g.,perhaps each party could speak in turn stating an answer to the question, who are you, and what is your role here? The patient might answer “I am the patient, and I want to be able to walk without any sign of injury a year from now.”
  2. Focus on the main goals that are shared by all present, (e.g. a healthy patient with full or nearly full bodily functionality) but be careful not to determine those goals for participants.
  3. Mediator defines mediation, conflict, and her role in the process, e.g. empowerer not critic; goes over the four stages of mediation: Introduction, Storytelling, Problem Solving, Resolution and remind everyone that it is a nonlinear process (Domenici et al., 2001).
  4. Establish ground rules, in this case including no interruptions, 1 question many individual subsequent answers. notes may be taken.
  5. Confidentiality must be preserved – while the mediation will likely take place in a hospital, it could potentially take place away from the maternity ward. Any recordings other than the agreement and the agreement to participate in mediation will be destroyed.
  6. The ability to break into separate meetings, e.g. a caucus, in order to work out impasse issues in private.
  7. Sign the agreement to mediate. Discussion, questions, and answers.
  8. Ask for questions, concerns, issues, clarification, and final introductory thoughts before moving on.