What Do Psychologists Bring to the Mediation Table?

Settling disputes through litigation can be a long and expensive process. Alternatives to the adversarial process involved in suing people in a trial proceeding can offer less expensive and more satisfying outcomes. There are various alternative ways of settling disputes and these go by various names such as collaborative law, arbitration, and mediation. These methods and processes are used to resolve disputes in families, businesses and communities.
Various professionals have entered the field as mediators and arbitrators. Among these are lawyers, judges, clergy and mental health professionals.
Ilene Diamond, psychologist, says psychologists bring special skills to the various dispute resolution areas. This is especially true in a divorce where strong emotions “interfere with the productive resolutions of issues in dispute.” In addition, psychologists are well equipped in helping clients who are struggling with elder care issues, dysfunctional family businesses, employment discrimination, sexual harassment and molestation, medical malpractice as well as psychological sequalae to personal injuries such as car accidents and other traumatic events.

Psychologists are good mediators because they are trained to look closely at how people communicate and the hidden messages behind the obvious outward verbal responses. Thus, a psychologist mediator may pick up not just the “what” but the “how” of communications. This “how” includes metaphoric language and facial expressions, as well as body language, gestures, and other nonverbal cues.
Psychologists bring special assessment skills to the mediation table because they are trained in psychological assessment which includes psychological testing and, thus, are able to understand psychological assessment reports and help interpret them to the recalcitrant parent.
These are among the skills that psychologists bring to the Alternative Dispute Resolution arena. Ilene makes a strong case for using psychologists as mediators and availing the consumer of the special qualities that the psychologist can bring to the mediation table.
For a more complete discussion of these issues and points see Ilene’s article at: http://www.mediate.com/articles/diamonil.cfm

This entry was posted on Friday, May 27th, 2011 at 9:42 pm and is filed under Law and Psychology. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Responses are currently closed, but you can trackback from your own site.

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