After completing her 40-hour mediation training, Jean Church was introduced to the practice by a divorce litigator who mentored her in divorce mediation. She is now a certified collaborative mediator with a somatic counseling and coaching background. Jean’s practice involves a trauma-based approach, and, a major part of this is helping couples heal through separation. She believes that relationships do not have to end in a malicious manner.
Empowering Parties and Eliminating Bias
Jean has found that “doing nothing prompts people to step up.” Neutrality, which is a key component of the mediation process, serves as an effective tool for letting parties take ownership of the process.
However, it is important to have a healthy balance between stepping back and letting the parties own the process, and guiding them when needed. “I had to learn how not to be so empathetic or sympathetic to one party or the other.” According to her, this was one of the biggest hurdles she faced in the initial stages of her practice, as well as not allowing her personal experiences to influence the mediation process. “So, I needed to work with what my own biases were.”
What helps her stay neutral, especially when there is an imbalance of power between the parties is using the facilitative, collaborative model. She tries not to work with victim-states, but works energetically with people, working with and allowing whatever is coming up at the moment to preside. “I really have embraced empowering both parties.” Asking open questions and creating a safe space really helps maintain this balance and create harmony between the parties. In all, “People do appreciate having what they are saying be heard.” This is what differentiates mediation from other dispute resolution processes as it gives room for parties to be heard and puts them in the driver’s seat.
MBBI and A Global Outreach
Jean has been a member of Mediators Beyond Borders International (MBBI), for two years now. She was introduced to the organization by a colleague who is very involved with the United Nations on a local level. “I want to physically manifest doing more work globally.” So, she feels that MBBI is a great avenue and resource that can help her create a bridge between the local community and the rest of the world.
Remaining Spontaneous and Present
Jean urges people, especially new mediators to “remain spontaneous and present.” This allows them to focus on the issues at hand rather than obsessing over potential, unguaranteed, future outcomes or scenarios. It also helps parties to remain grounded, and spontaneity allows them to adjust accordingly. This also helps eliminate the ego and bring in more clarity.
Article by Jainaba Gaye, MBBI Writer