FAQ's - How to Select a Mediator
Do mediators have to be certified or licensed to practice?
Generally speaking, no. There is no national certification or licensing process for mediators in the United States. Some countries outside of the United States have or are moving toward requiring certification and licensing for mediators.
What regulations are in place regarding mediator qualifications in the U.S.?
Some states regulate mediator qualifications and aspects of mediation such as Illinois' Uniform Mediation Act. Court-related mediation programs may also regulate who can mediate particular types of cases. See RSI's website for more information on court-related mediation programs and mediator qualifications.
Are there other ways to screen mediators?Yes. Professional organizations regulate mediator standards and ethics and are a good source of information and referrals to qualified mediators. National organizations like The Association for Conflict Resolution which also has local chapters are a good place to start. The Academy of Professional Family Mediators also allows you to search for mediators by state. Many states also have local non-profit mediation organization such as the Mediation Council of Illinois.
If someone claims that they are a "certified mediator" ask them what that means. Who certified them? When? Where? How many hours was the training? Since there is no national certification or licensing process for mediators, training programs can vary greatly. It is also good to ask if they are part of any professional organization and if they are listed on that organization's referral list (be sure to check out what the qualifications are for being on a referral list with each organization since some are stricter than others).
Mediators should carry malpractice insurance and should have experience mediating.
It is absolutely okay to ask questions about any of these things. If a mediator is offended by such questions then it may be worth moving on to the next mediator.
Do mediators all mediate the same way?No. There are many different models and styles of mediation and trying to understand them all can get quite complicated and overwhelming. To simply things, we'll address just a couple of them: problem-solving and directive.
Problem-solving models of mediation tend to be more facilitative and focused on the self-empowerment aspect of mediation. Solutions to the problem come from the disputants and the mediator does not make suggestions or evaluate the dispute in any way. For the most part, small-claims and other community cases & family, divorce, and custody cases are handled by mediators who follow a problem-solving model of mediation. Facilitative mediation is a form of the problem-solving model of mediation.
Directive forms of mediation may be more evaluative in their approach. While the focus is still on empowering the disputants to make a decision regarding the outcome of the dispute, the mediator may offer suggestions or evaluate the legitimacy of the case in helping people come to an agreement. Former judges and attorneys in specialized areas often serve as directive mediators in complex disputes such as large civil cases where the legal aspects of the case are significantly relevant to settling.
What about NMS's mediation style & qualifications?Noah Mediation Services employs a facilitative approach to mediation. See FAQ's regarding the mediation process at Noah Mediation Services.
As an Advanced Practitioner Level Member of the Association of Conflict Resolution (ACR) Family Section, Noah Mediation Services is bound by the Model Standard of Conduct for Mediators and the Standards of Practice for Family & Divorce Mediation.
See our page about Laura L. Noah to get more information regarding her experience, education & other qualifications.