Community Mediation Services of St. Louis uses a six step process for its mediations.
1. Understanding the Community Mediation Process
We begin mediation with introductions and an explanation of the process and the expectations for participants in mediation:
–Mediation is a voluntary process. Participants can choose to end the process at any time.
–Dialogue is to be kept respectful, no name calling or disrespect.
–Based on the parties’ expressed needs or the mediators’ judgment, parties may mediate in separate sessions; whatever the parties do not share when they are back together will remain confidential.
–We read aloud and have all parties sign the Agreement to Mediate, which affirms the expectations above, outlines the mediators’ role in the process, and releases Community Mediation Services from liability. All present must sign.
2. Presentation of Viewpoints
After the agreement is signed, the mediators ask each party to discuss the events that brought them to mediation. Knowing very little about the events themselves, mediators ask questions for clarity. This often helps both parties understand the issue better, too. Both parties will have a chance to share their concerns and their understanding of events without interruption.
Once the parties have established the background, mediators ask the parties what their ideal outcomes might be. They ask each party to describe their goals for the resolution of the issue and their relationship with the other party. The mediators help the parties imagine together what “peaceful” coexistence might look like.
3. Identifying the Common Issues
As parties express their viewpoints and share their ideal outcomes, there are usually many common issues that emerge. In a typical neighborhood mediation, for example, one might find that both parties value the neighborhood–or at least neither feels they have an easy option of moving. Both want boundaries respected. Both want to keep the neighborhood well maintained and looking good. Although the neighbors have different approaches to each of these common issues–they may only agree that the dog exists–mediators help parties recognize that they share these issues.
4. Identify Possible Alternative Solutions
Once the parties have established common ground, mediators guide parties through the process of finding alternatives to resolve their dispute. Ideally, the parties come up with alternative solutions for each common issue. The major goal of this stage is to come up with ideas. The mediators record the suggestions for later discussion.
5. Evaluate Alternative Solutions
Next, the mediators help the parties think about how the proposed solutions might look in practice. Some of the solutions will work better for the parties than others. Some solutions may not be realistic at all. The mediators help the parties pare the ideas down to a few that are workable. Asking questions, the mediators help the parties think through the details. Who will do what? When will they do it? How will this solution be implemented? What will constitute success? The more precisely a solution is planned, the better its chances for success.
6. Complete Forms and Close Mediation
Once the details of the solution are worked out and finalized, the mediator serves as a scribe to record them on a document for both parties to sign. This Mediated Agreement becomes a contract between the two parties. Signing it completes the mediation. If a copy machine is available, both parties leave with a copy of the agreement. If not, then the mediator will make copies and mail them to the parties at earliest convenience.
Community Mediation Services will send copies of the Agreement to Mediate and the Mediated Agreement to the referring agencies also. All other notes from the mediation will be destroyed.