Mediation – Understanding How it Works
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How the Process Works – Steps 1 and 2
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Now that you know the bare-bones of the "Six-Step Method", let’s go ahead and really outline how each step really works in greater detail.

Step 1 - Introduction

The mediator, although not directly involved, is the facilitator of the process. As the facilitator, she must introduce herself, determine who the parties are and what their relationship is to one another (if any), and she must explain her role.

It is also at this point in the process that the mediator must explain the purpose and goals of the mediation (once again, to allow the parties themselves to resolve the problems and issues that were brought to the court’s attention and come to some type of mediation agreement). In addition to the general background information pertaining to the process, the mediator must also set the ground rules. Typically, the mediator will explain to the parties that only one person is permitted to speak at a time, and if the non-speaking party has something to say, he should jot it down on scrap paper that is provided by the court. Finally, before getting to the meat of the process, the mediator should get verbal confirmation from all parties involved that they understand the process and the rules, and that they have no further questions.

Step 2 - Storytelling

During the portion of the process, the mediator will listen to both parties and ask them each questions to either obtain more information or clarify the information that was already given. Usually, the mediator will start the storytelling process by asking a broad question. For example, she may say to one of the two children who got into a fight at school, "Tell me about what happened on that day." By asking a broad question, the mediator will likely elicit a substantial amount of information from each party. As that party continues to tell his story, the mediator may begin asking narrower questions in order to clarify what exactly happened. It is also typical for the mediator to ask questions beginning with "who, what, where, when, and why."

Next, let’s take a look at Step 3 and 4 in the mediation process.