Mediation – Understanding How it Works
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Steps 3 and 4
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Step 3 - Issue Identification

During this stage of the process that the mediator outlines the issues that she sees based on the information presented by the parties during the “Storytelling” phase. By hearing each party’s side to the story, the mediator is able to narrow that information down to what appears to be the underlying issues surrounding those particular circumstances. More often than not, the issues that caused the parties to have conflict with one another are much deeper than the actual incident that sent them to mediation in the first place. For example, a fight between two teenage girls is often much more than just two girls who wanted to start beating on each other. By uncovering these issues, the parties can focus on solutions to address and hopefully alleviate underlying problems.

Step 4 - Brainstorming

The parties, with some guidance from the mediator, brainstorm as many possible solutions as they can to address the underlying issues that were outlined in the previous phase. It is important to put all ideas on the table in order to generate as many solutions as possible. This phase helps to show why the previous "Issue Identification" phase was so important. By focusing on the underlying issues, the parties are able to focus on specific solutions that will help them remedy the problems that brought them to mediation in the first place.

Next, let’s take a look at Step 5 and 6 in the mediation process.