Robert , New York NY 06/08/08
Responding to Barbara's Comment on Accreditation
Barbara wrote: "dare I suggest we might even be somewhat more 'evolved' in certain respects, such as professional accountability through various forms of registration/accreditation, as well as requirements regarding professional practice consultancy/supervision."
It is amazing to me how some professional mediators push the old accreditation argument as if a certificate should somehow be required to practice what is an age old idea - third party mediation.
Accreditation is nothing more than a group of established mediators trying to protect their economic interests from competition. Carl Rogers, the famed American psychologist, wrote very persuasively on this subject and how phony the concept of accreditation is.
Does the call for accreditation come from the public who want protection from incompetant mediators? No. It comes from those mediators who are already established that want to protect their priviliged positions. Accreditation does not ensure competance but it does ensure that it will be difficult for new ideas and new dispute resolution models to come in to the profession while the old guard fights to keep out the competition.
What is next? Required accreditation for coaches, facilitators and all of the other titles that independent talented people use every day? Why not let the market place decide? Surly you are aware that the mediators that handle the highest profile matters are not accredited by any organization, they are just known as competant people.
More beurocratic red tape and needless hurdles to entry are supposed to be hallmarks of the "evolved" european way of doing business? If europeans let go of this paternalistic anti-competitive model you may one day see the benefits of the free market system that we have here in the US (although I am aware that some in the US also seem to push this anti-competitive notion of accreditation)
Barbara Wilson, Portsmouth, UK 12/16/07
Of War and Negotiation
I hope Christiana's comments will begin a dialogue and not a turf war. I read Robert's article as an acknowledgment that European mediation has evolved from Europe's discrete history, and has its roots here. It is indeed true that this background can be overlooked by those visiting us. Much as we owe international mediator trainers (including those from continents other than North America), it is very frustrating if they arrive with little knowledge of our history (forgiveable) but also without having researched - and acknowledged - our current stage of development and context (unforgiveable). Also, dare I suggest we might even be somewhat more 'evolved' in certain respects, such as professional accountability through various forms of registration/accreditation, as well as requirements regarding professional practice consultancy/supervision. To some of us here it now seems archaic that these issues remain unresolved elsewhere.
I thank Robert for his article and look forward to reading the remaining sections. As always, he is unafraid to debunk, a function from which we can all benefit.
Christiana , Netherlands 12/13/07
I am always amazed by the outright arrogance of Americans, here again assuming that we've borrowed from them. History suggests that we've been around much longer than the US, and the processes we've developed may just be independent of what the Americans are doing. I'm not saying you don't do good work. I am saying that it is both arrogant and unwise to suggest that our conflict management and mediation processes come from American processes and ideas and/or are without philosophical and theoretical underpinnings. Nothing exists without underlying belief systems, and belief systems affect all things (thoughts, behaviors, action, etc.). Whether we wish to deny that impact is quite another thing.
Gini Nelson, Santa Fe NM firstname.lastname@example.org 12/06/07
Robert, thank you. I especially like this phrase: "[The Europeans] are well on their way to developing their own unique and effective approach to mediation. It is largely a pragmatic and functional approach unencumbered by ideological belief. In the same way Europeans acknowledge the intellectual work of Sigmund Freud, whose home and office on Vienna’s Bergasse Street remains prominent, but have resisted making- over his psychodynamic theory into a quasi religion, they have taken the best of mediation practice without feeling obliged to imbue it with transformational properties."
Geoff , Wellington We 12/05/07
Bob, good job. I look forward to parts 2 and beyond.