Comments: Mediate.com Certification Program: An Interview with Mediate.com CEO Jim Melamed

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Jim , Eugene CA   05/29/09
comments, ratings, video?
Stan and all, We have give comments and ratings extensive consideration and it is possible that we will come to offer these options over time. If so, we would almost certainly allow mediators to opt out of these aspects if they so desire. There are many challenges here, including 'false positives' (padding a record) as well as 'false negatives' (hostile responses). Still, I do fully agree that, if one simply looks at other industries and a the Internet as a whole, these kind of web 2.0 approaches are more and more present. In time, I anticipate we will additionally survey our members in these regards. One other approach, taking advantage of the unique qualities of the Internet, would be to require or request a short video of the mediator introducing themselves, describing their practice and approach. I offer that, if a picture tells a 1000 words, perhaps a video tells '1,000,000 words' and that, watching a potential mediator 'perform' on video (and being able to ask 'would I want to work with this person') may be more valuable than all of the other aspects of what we are doing put together. Still, even here, my guess is that we would make any video aspect optional. Thanks for all suggestions and ideas. We are doing what we can to take a step in the right direction and to encourage others to do the same. Appreciation to all comments as being greatly helpful in our program definition and refinement. Jim Melamed

Jim Melamed, Eugene CA   05/29/09
No licensure; No insurance qualification - moving the field of mediation forward
To clarify, no one is talking about licensing nor qualifying for insurance reimbursement. We are talking about elevating training and experience requirements for mediators and certainly encouraging comprehensive transparency to consumers. The problem with failing to define mediation qualification standards in their own right is that people then tend to look for traditional indicators of competence, such as advanced degrees or status, e.g., being a lawyer, retired judge or being a psychologist which, I suggest, is an unacceptable result. Mediation needs to define itself in its own terms and motivate those who have interest in serving as mediators to get more and more training and experience. How would you do that? Finally, this is just one crack at taking things in a better direction. These are general standards for all mediators and all mediation . . . we fully expect and encourage other appropriate organizations to now pick up the ball and consider best transparent standards for respective practice areas (e.g., divorce, workplace, commercial, etc.) as well as for particular geographic areas. Yes, we are seeking to break the log jam of no progress on qualifications and mediators taking the reins and defining mediation in its own right. No, we do not see this as precluding any one's practice. Rather, we hope to be providing both established and newer professionals with one defined ladder that can help them climb their way into most capable mediation practice. The best response for those who do not see the benefit of mediator certification is to not get certified. We believe that we are offering a valuable value-add for consumers in consolidating and reviewing mediator information. I have confidence that overtime the marketplace will make wise choices in these regards.

Steve , Federal Way wa   05/28/09
Mediation Certification
As a psychologist and a mediator I am most skeptical about the worth of efforts to license or certify any profession. In the early 1970's Clinical Psychologists lobbied the states to set up a separate certification and license for "clinical" psychology. While the effort was couched in providing more assurance that clients/patients got higher quality care it was more about narrowing the field of providers for financial gain. Supply exceeded demand. Its a business tactic to narrow the provider field. Once a separate licence was granted by the state (state run monopolies) insurance companies were encouraged to pay ONLY for clinical psychology services excluding counseling and every other psychological field. In practice, certifications are an attempt to narrow the provider market by creating the appearance that a certified person is more qualified than one who doesn't have "good housekeeping" seals. There is no data that clinical psychologists are better therapists than say, counseling psychologists, they just corner the insurance money. I doubt there will be any evicence that certified mediators are any more talented than those who choose not to certify. The danger of certification of mediators runs along the same lines. One group (the certified) are creating the illusion of quality to attract more clients. (to say nothing of creating a business for certification fees and contiuing education.) Its the same principle as unions. Only a licensed union electrician can install your light switch. It's no longer enough to be a licensed physician, now you need to be board certified to get the big insurance bucks. As the consumer demand narrows so do the specialities. Certfication is an exclusionary process. Its the same process attorney mediators use to exclude non attorney mediators. I'll say the same thing I said to my colleagues in psychology 40 years ago "nuts". Invented status for financial gain is not a substitute for quality, which you've pointed out, but still you procede with the certificaton process. Count me out. I don't need one more self serving group codifying my talent and sanctioning my profession and eventually eliminating the non certified from the money stream. Thanks but no thanks. Thanks for making it voluntary......for now. You're on the same slippery slope as psychologists were 40 years ago. No good can come from it.

Stan Moore, Coeur d' Alene ID   05/28/09
Feedback Component
This is an extemely informative article. The emphasis on transparency is laudable and may be a key ingredient of this certification missing from many self-anointing organizational certification out there in all professions. I would throw out for consideration the inclusion in this program of a wonderful aspect of web based commerce: User feedback or ratings on certified mediators.

Vickie , Los Angeles CA  vpynchon@settlenow.com     05/23/09
Mentoring and Observation
I know most mediators do not like the comparison of mediation to therapy, but it is similar in this regard: both disciplines aim to assist people in crisis through a variety of "techniques" used in closed rooms cloaked in secrecy. When "no one is watching" is the norm and "no one can know what happens" (confidentiality) is the law, the potential for abuse is high. Therapists are not permitted to practice without first going through a rigorous mentorship process, at least some component of which is observation with feedback. This is the critical missing element in professional mediation practice, whether it is part of the "legal" system or community-based or otherwise. Different therapeutic paradigms (Freudian, cognitive, behavioral, self-psychological, Gestalt, group, individual, etc.) have thrived despite regulation and certification. I do not believe we need to privilege any particular "type" of mediation in order to certify mediators and regulate the profession to curb some of its worst abuses - most of which come in the form of bullying individuals into submission by powerful authority figures (mediators). This regulation and certification WILL COME. The only question is whether we will all have input into the structure and process. So I praise Jim and mediate.com for taking a stab at it and support similar efforts elsewhere.

Clayton , Bixby OK   05/23/09
You are on the right track... but
Jim, I "agree" with your replies here and the "inclusive philosophy" for the mediation profession overall. May I suggest: 1. leave the ABA and the courts to themselves and for those seeking what I call "legal mediation". 2. Please announce that MCP 2.0 is underway based on current "grilling" feedback so as to "differentiate" and redefine "mediation" in a broader context for all practitioners and apart from long standing associations that have already established such practices. 3. Totally "disassociate" and remove any further alignment or consolidation with the "current" legal mediation industry. Do this by bringing in "non lawyers" onto the "team" to advise and collaborate on the certification. 4. Add a "self evaluation" element for practitioners so as to enhance "core personality" development and self knowledge in balance with "technical mediation" processes and knowledge. 5. Emphasize and "mirror" in the MCP the inclusiveness of the Mediate.com membership, web site content/contributions and stated philosophies and ethics that "embrace" all current and emerging mediation "niches". This is your strength, just as you've said; and so take advantage of this "positioning" in the industry! 6. Consider a "plebiscitary" approval system from members on "elements" for qualifying for the certification. No, "we" don't need to vote on every single "line item" proposed, but formulate and consolidate a "neutral hybrid" from parallel fields and the law profession and you'll be a lot closer than you are now. Yes, it could take years, but the "consumer environment" TODAY is stating that we all "want it and need it" in contrast to what's in the news day to day and how existing "authority" is handling "controversy".

Clayton , Bixby OK   05/23/09
You are on the right track... but
Jim, I "agree" with your replies here and the "inclusive philosophy" for the mediation profession overall. May I suggest: 1. leave the ABA and the courts to themselves and for those seeking what I call "legal mediation". 2. Please announce that MCP 2.0 is underway based on current "grilling" feedback so as to "differentiate" and redefine "mediation" in a broader context for all practitioners and apart from long standing associations that have already established such practices. 3. Totally "disassociate" and remove any further alignment or consolidation with the "current" legal mediation industry. Do this by bringing in "non lawyers" onto the "team" to advise and collaborate on the certification. 4. Add a "self evaluation" element for practitioners so as to enhance "core personality" development and self knowledge in balance with "technical medication" processes and knowledge. 5. Emphasize and "mirror" in the MCP the inclusiveness of the Mediate.com membership, web site content/contributions and stated philosophies and ethics that "embrace" all current and emerging mediation "niches". This is your strength, just as you've said; and so take advantage of this "positioning" in the industry! 6. Consider a "plebiscitary" approval system from members on "elements" for qualifying for the certification. No, "we" don't need to vote on every single "line item" proposed, but formulate and consolidate a "neutral hybrid" from parallel fields and the law profession and you'll be a lot closer than you are now. Yes, it could take years, but the "consumer environment" TODAY is stating that we all "want it and need it" in contrast to what's in the news day to day and how existing "authority" is handling "controversy".