Adult Family Mediation (multi party)
Typically, one family member contacts me to inquire about mediation. There is a tangible dispute that needs fixing. During that initial conversation, I explain the mediation process without getting into the weeds of a family's particular situation; it's an opportunity to ask questions about the process, about me, and to assess "fit." Based upon that conversation, people oftentimes want to pursue mediation and sometimes the challenge becomes how to bring other family members on board.
We can discuss my sending a letter or speaking 1-on-1 with additional family members. I will
"comp" the first hour of time involved in bringing everyone on board and thereafter charge my normal billing rate for the work done to bring everyone together for mediation. All services (e.g. pre-mediation meetings, write-ups, mediation sessions, etc.) are billed hourly.
Mediation is an investment of time, on both the part of the client and mediator. Depending upon the number of parties, practical considerations and the issues involved, the mediation process requires at least two joint sessions with all participants, with work and communication in between.
I provide an estimate of fees up-front, based upon what I know of the situation. Typically, I take a retainer in the amount of estimated fees and bill against that retainer at my hourly rate. Any unearned portion is promptly refunded. Or, if instead the retainer is fully depleted, I bill hourly thereafter.
1 on 1 Conflict Coaching
Typically, a family member calls when a situation has come to a head in a major way or they are feeling overwhelmed. There may be overt conflict or tension with another family member. The problem may be ill-defined. Sometimes many people are involved.
Against this backdrop, there may be an upcoming family meeting, big decision or something else big that is looming. And for whatever reason, mediation is neither realistic nor desired.
In this case, coaching may be what a client wants. Coaching is a short-term, 1-on-1, action-centered approach that is 100% tailored to fit a client's needs and situation. The coach's role is mainly to ask questions, make observations, and to offer insights based upon what the client has said, in order to help the client gain clarity about what is going on, how and what they want to do about the situation, and what is out of their control.
Unlike therapy, coaching is short-term and action-centered, with built-in accountability.
People may opt for a form of coaching that includes general education, guidance and perspective about aging-related matters, along with referrals to relevant professionals and service providers. They appreciate when I help clients apply information, resources and processes to create workable solutions.
These combined "conflict coaching" and "education & guidance" services are an example of what is sometimes referred to as "hybrid" or "blended" coaching. This type of coaching unites traditional coaching's emphasis on helping a client grow more self-aware and empowered with an educator/mentor's focus on sharing their own knowledge, information and perspective.
Each session typically lasts 1.5 hours, billed hourly.
DISCLAIMER: I never advise a family member what to do, as that is not my role; decision-making is the sole responsibility of family members and I am not responsible for outcomes, direct or indirect, resulting from information, referrals, education, guidance, or suggestions I may provide.
Having walked in similar shoes, I know the value of having someone you can trust and rely upon to walk alongside you during a journey full of important and difficult moments. I aim to be that professional with a personal touch for my clients.
This is a family meeting(s) guided by a neutral professional who knows how to facilitate conversation so that families can resolve challenges and disputes.
Pre-Mediation: mediator offers a complimentary consult with whomever wants to learn more about the mediation process; once engaged, the mediator meets with each family member 1:1 in order to learn about them and to "prime" them for success going forward.
If an elder's participation in mediation is an issue, there are ways to include their voice;
During Mediation: facilitate a multi-party mediation aka family meeting(s), by helping people avoid negativity traps in order to focus on getting their needs and interests met;
Mediation may be conducted in person under appropriate circumstances given Covid. Zoom also works though personal meetings are usually preferable (especially with an older person).
If everyone agrees, there may be an informal exchange of information or documents between the parties ahead of mediation so that everyone comes into mediation as informed as possible.
Mediation is a voluntary process (parties set goals for mediation and determine outcomes; some family members participate, while others may not).
It is confidential (though parties may agree to carve out limited exceptions).
The mediator is impartial (she doesn't prefer one party over the other).
Each person has a right to self-determination during the mediation process.
Capacity, transparency and information-gathering help ensure informed consent.
Trained mediators and conflict coaches ask neutral, curious, and probing questions designed to elicit and pinpoint people's true needs and values and to figure out what's possible. Questions are effective because they:
Moreover, good mediators and conflict coaches establish a strong bond of trust with a client. This trust makes clients less defensive, more energized, and more willing to challenge themselves to do the work that is necessary in order to move towards a brighter future.
The result? With mediation in particular, when family members learn to listen to each other in new ways, that improves relationships. Both mediation and coaching can serve as the catalyst for parties reaching a tangible agreement to resolve practical issues. And even in the absence of an immediate agreement, the foundation is laid for better quality decision-making in the future.
Disclaimer: Offered services are not a substitute for appropriate medical, legal, financial or other professional advice. Though Nicole is a licensed attorney, she does not currently practice law. Nothing herein should be construed as legal advice. Copyright Nicole Lance 2022. All rights reserved.