Online Mediation Task Force Family / Elder Committee Report

The Online Mediation Family and Elder Committee consisted of the following members: Chair: Susan Guthrie Members: Michael Aurit, Gabrielle Hartley, Ken Neumann, Peter Salem, Linda Seely and Lara Traum.

ISSUES CONSIDERED BY THE COMMITTEE:

The Family and Elder Committee was initially tasked with Considering the Following Questions:

  • How can family and elder mediation training be improved to embrace online mediation?
  • How can family and elder mediation training best be offered online, for basic training, advanced training, and ongoing continuing education?

In order to properly formulate answers to these questions, the Committee further broke their inquiry down to include the following:

  • How has your Sector historically approached training and qualification and how well has this worked?
  • What changes have taken place for your Sector’s mediation services since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic?
  • To what extent has your sector’s mediation training moved online? How well has this worked? Benefits? Challenges?
  • What are the new online practice capacities that mediators now need to reasonably master?
  • To what extent can your sector’s mediation training needs be met online? To what extent can they not?
  • To what extent do you think that mastering online mediation will be needed even once the pandemic passes?

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(Resources and Analysis of Options is not here presented)

COMMITTEE RECOMMENDATIONS:

  • Based upon the analysis and discussion of the issues and questions outlined above, the Family and Elder Committee makes the following recommendations with respect to the establishment of core competencies for online mediation and online mediation training going forward.
  • Mediation training courses and programs should be expanded to include as a mandatory part of the curriculum, instruction on core competencies needed to conduct mediations online via videoconferencing, including but not limited to the practical and ethical issues raised by the virtual medium.
  • The practical issues of online mediation that should be covered in any training should include, technical competence on videoconferencing platforms such as Zoom, Microsoft Teams and more. In addition, training in the practical issues of using breakout rooms for caucus, private chat, white board, screen share, document share, waiting room, meeting security and other essential functionality should be required.
  • Ethical issues related to mediating online that should be emphasized in trainings for online mediation are privacy, confidentiality, cybersecurity, competence, diligence and unconscious bias.
  • Training programs for mediation conducted online should be limited in duration to no more than 3 to 4 hours per day and suitable breaks should be scheduled throughout to combat online fatigue.
  • Training programs for mediation conducted online may include both pre-recorded video instruction as well as live training via videoconferencing. Trainers should be transparent in their communications with participants about the modalities used.
  • Training programs for mediation conducted online should be limited in number of participants to insure that participants have adequate opportunity for interaction and participation. It is helpful to limit the number of overall participants to no more than can be viewed at one time on a screen. For example, at this time the maximum is 49 for a Zoom meeting. The total number of participants includes all trainers, guests and trainees.
  • As family and elder mediation trainings generally include a number of role-play and interactive exercises the use of breakout rooms is critical. It is suggested that recording the role-play activities would allow for review and feedback from trainers to enhance the training experience.
  • All mediation training programs should fully support the legitimacy and efficacy of mediating online and acknowledge it as mediation with additional facets and complexities to consider and address.

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                        author

Susan Guthrie

Susan Guthrie, nationally recognized as one of the Top Family Law and Mediation Attorneys in the country, has been helping individuals and families navigate separation and divorce for more than 30 years. Susan provides legal coaching services to select clients around the world.   Susan recently partnered with legal and mediation legend, Forrest… MORE >

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