Apex, NC, October 12, 2011 --(PR.com
)-- Some people just seem to enjoy a good fight, and can tolerate, if not maintain, conflict in their lives for a ridiculously long time. Mediation is not for those people - It is for the rest of us...the people who would rather have peace in their lives. Professional mediation services are now available in Apex at Lifescapes Counseling Associates.
So, what is mediation? Most of us think of divorce when we hear the word “mediation”, but mediators resolve other conflicts as well. Almost any type of conflict can be mediated rather than litigated, as long as both parties in the dispute wish to have the dispute resolved. This process can be used effectively to settle property distribution, custody, co-parenting concerns, business and contract matters, neighbor or family conflict, and many other civil issues.
Mediation is a process that facilitates conflict resolution and agreement among disputing parties. Mediators may be either attorneys or counselors. They have specialized training, and are skilled in de-escalating emotional reactions, encouraging compromise and negotiation, clarifying the contextual issues surrounding a dispute, and simplifying problems. They are, in short, professional solution finders. Mediators provide a more efficient, respectful, and less costly alternative to courtroom litigation.
Taking an opponent to court is an expensive and often painful process during which each party works hard to discredit the other side. They leverage evidence and present testimony to create a compelling case to the judge, who will ultimately decide how the conflict will be resolved. Attorneys are necessary in litigation, delays are a given, and the pricetag can be very high. The litigants also may not feel that they have much control over what is happening once their dispute enters the courtroom, which is the playing field for their lawyers.
The process of mediation tends to be much quicker than litigation in that it takes hours rather than weeks or months, although those hours may need to be split up over several sessions. It is also more respectful to the disputing parties, in that they are speaking for themselves as they explain their perspective of the issue. The presence of the mediator allows for improved communication among the factions, who are provided with guidance and a structure that facilitates rational discussion rather than emotional explosion.
What should one consider when choosing a mediator? Choosing a professional service provider is an important decision. In any such situation, one must look at licensure, certification, experience, and cost. There are however, some aspects of this choice that are specific to mediation:
1) Do we need a counselor-mediator or an attorney-mediator?
Counselor-Mediators are independently licensed mental health professionals with specialized training and experience in mediation and conflict resolution. They are particularly well suited to handle conflicts involving complicated or intense emotions, substance abuse, difficult family situations, or psychological disorders. Their strengths lie in the quality of interpersonal communication, their ability to de-escalate intense situations, and in their ability to develop trust and rapport in the professional relationship.
Attorney-Mediators are licensed legal professionals who have particular interest and training in mediation. These mediators are the right choice for settling disputes that involve complicated legal matters, where perhaps precedent or statutory law is unclear.
While they do not have particular training in interpersonal communication or psychological issues, they bring to the table their status as an expert in legal matters.
2) Personality and the comfort of both parties is an important consideration.
Since conflict resolution involves vulnerability, the process is more effective when you are comfortable with your mediator as a human being. When you first meet with a mediator, pay attention to how you feel in their presence, and how you feel about their capacity to moderate an intense situation.
3) Location and appointment availability should be considered.
As mediation generally requires multiple appointments, it makes sense to choose a professional that is conveniently located to you, and who offers appointments at times that work for you. While some time between appointments is necessary for reflection, preparation, and becoming comfortable with potential compromises, you also don’t want to wait weeks or months between appointments – such delays make each appointment less efficient as there will need to be more “catch up.”
4) Cost varies
Although anyone considering this understands that mediation is significantly cheaper than litigation, charges vary among mediators. Attorneys that offer mediation tend to charge between $200 and $300 per session/hour of mediation. On the other hand, counselor-mediators charge between $150 and $200 per session/hour.
Although mediation can be helpful in a wide range of conflict situations, there are situations in which litigation is more appropriate. If however, both parties are appropriately motivated to resolve their dispute quickly and respectfully, are able to communicate well on their own behalf, and they are willing to consider compromises, then mediation might be a great choice.
Kelly J. G. McKendree, LPC of Lifescapes Counseling Associates in Apex is now offering professional counselor-mediation services for the Apex, Cary, Holly Springs area. In addition to offering private mediation services, Kelly has also provided court-ordered mediation within the judicial system. She has extensive experience in individual, couples and family counseling, co-parenting therapy, custody evaluation, and conflict resolution. More information is available at www.lifescapescounseling.com
, or by calling Lifescapes Counseling at 919.303.0273.
Amy Benton Moulds, MEd, NCC, LPC, DCC is the Practice Director of Lifescapes Counseling Associates, PLLC, located in Apex, NC.