Mediation Session

During the session, the mediator leads the disputants through a series of phases. The phases are sequential in the sense that most of the functions of one phase must be a~com­ plished to make success in the next phase more likely. However, it is incorrect to thmk of the phases as a linear, one-way, lock-step procedure. Mediators often move back and forth across phases, as each unique case requires. This chapter highlights the functions that occur in each phase, with later chapters delving more deeply into the details.

The opening of a session is the time when the mediator presents information and estab­ lishes a desired tone. The opening statement, sometimes called the mediator monologue, fulfills several functions. It is important to note that every mediation does not require all items. The opening statement functions to:

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• Welcome the parties to the mediation

• Introduce the mediator to the parties and the parties to each other

• Provide information about the mediator’s credibility

• Confirm that the right people are at the mediation table

• Explain the nature and scope of mediation

• Detail the mediator’s role

• Disclose that there might be private meetings with each party

• Define neutrality and impartiality

• Convey the confidentiality pledge and its limitations

• Reveal the purpose of the mediator’s notes

• Establish rules for communication

• State the session length and other logistics

• Establish the role of outside resources or experts

• Secure a commitment to begin

• Transition to the storytelling and issue identification phase