Mediation is not the same as arbitration or litigation. There is no high-powered decision maker who judges what is true or false or who is right or wrong. There are no decrees.

Mediation is a collaborative process in which disputing parties are able to unravel their disagreement, to put their grievances and complaints into words, to hear one another whether they agree or not, and, finally, to come to an agreement that helps each of them let go of the conflict.

When you decide to participate, you commit to engaging and completing the entire process. You agree to show respect when you speak and when you listen, when you agree, and when you don't. This kind of respect makes it possible for you to be heard and for you to hear others.

As the trained mediator, my job is to safeguard the integrity of the process and of all participants. In response to this kind of safeguarding, trust grows as individuals say what they need to say; parties find common ground and difficult issues receive proper attention. Disputing parties determine the outcome and agree, in writing, to a resolution. This is often accomplished within one to three 2-hour sessions.

Mediation may not be the quickest or easiest way to resolve conflicts. But at its best, mediation is often the most satisfying path into healing.

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