JOIN OUR COMMUNITY!
- Providing a safe, respectful, and positive environment for members to exchange ideas and problem solve challenges they encounter in their practice.
- Building a network of peers and experts in the field that can serve as a resource.
- Exploring and sharing best practices, models, tools, and theories that enhance subject matter knowledge and practical approaches.
- Enhancing reflective practice and refining skills with challenge sessions on fundamental and advanced topics.
August 27 Event – Reflective Practice: A Key to Mediator Success
Time: 7-9pm (7-7:30pm networking)
Facilitators: Jeannette Twomey and Frank Blechman
CME: Pending 1.5
Take your practice to the next level through reflective practice, a key element in mediator success!
What is reflective practice and why is it important? Do we effectively analyze the critical moments in mediation to develop new insights and continually learn?
In this engaging CoP session, award-winning mediator, Jeanette Twomey, and former George Mason University Conflict Resolution Professor, Frank Blechman, will identify the tools and framework of reflective practice. Using examples from their practices, they will also demonstrate how disciplined and structured self-reflection can enhance our insights, sharpen our skills and propel every experience into a path of continual learning.
About the Facilitators
Jeannette Twomey is a mediator, facilitator and conflict resolution trainer in private practice, who has been recognized by her peers for her knowledge, skill, and contributions to the development of ADR in the Commonwealth of Virginia. She has been certified by the Supreme Court of Virginia since 1993 to mediate court-referred cases and to teach courses that are part of the statewide certification program. She is a designated Virginia Mentor Mediator, who regularly trains mediators in Mentoring New Mediators, Mediator Ethics, Economic Issues of Divorce, Elder Mediation, and Cognitive Barriers to Conflict Resolution.
Jeannette has sustained a strong professional interest in mediator reflective practice since 2004 when she pioneered mediator peer consultation groups through community mediation centers in Virginia. This was a joint project of the Virginia Mediation Network and the Virginia Association for Community Conflict Resolution. It was based on the concepts of Michael Lang and Alison Taylor in their book, The Making of a Mediator (Jossey-Bass, 2000).
Frank Blechman is a consultant helping businesses, community organizations, and public agencies increase their effectiveness through internal and external consensus building. He has assisted with process design, system design, facilitation, training, and motivation. Since 2002, he has been an organizational consultant, working on local and state-level projects.
From 1991-2002, he was a member of the graduate faculty at the Institute for Conflict Analysis and Resolution of George Mason University. In that capacity, he taught clinical courses, and directed fieldwork done by faculty and students. From 1998-2002, he served as the coordinator of the Institute’s Masters Degree program and as chair of the Curriculum Committee. Since 2013, he has served as a Board member of the Northern Virginia Mediation Service (NVMS). He has extensive experience in research and analysis, conflict intervention, mediation and conciliation of public issues, designing conflict-resolving processes and systems, and providing training in conflict resolution to policymakers, public and private officials and citizen leaders. He has led interventions in disputes involving land-use, transportation, historic preservation, church procedures, educational structures, ethnic rivalry, and governance.
To register, complete the form below:
Get Involved! Successful COPs depend on the active involvement of their members at all levels.
We are looking for individuals interested in becoming engaged with this process in the following roles:
- COP leaders: 1-2 individuals, 5-10 hrs/month
- Responsibilities: Manage the technical and administrative aspects of the community: contact and coordinate speakers, facilitators, and members; create a quarterly calendar of events; spread the word about the event; prepare materials; communicate with interested participants about event details; submit events for CME and CLE approval; send reminder and follow-up emails; collaborate with the Program Manager to ensure the smooth operation of the CoP.
- Position location: 25% in the office (planning meetings), 75% remote
- Event facilitators, 2-5 hrs/month
- Responsibilities: Facilitate events; sign in participants; introduce speakers; run icebreakers; managing Q&A; assist speakers during events; prepare speakers for online events by familiarizing them with the software.
- Position location: 100% Remote, in the office during events
- Contributors, 2-5 hrs/month
- Responsibilities: Add content in the form of presenting on various topics; writing blog posts; leading social media (LinkedIn, Facebook) discussions.
- Position location: 100% Remote
To apply for any of the roles listed above, please visit https://nvms.us/opportunities/
Archive of Past Events
January 2018 - Sustainable Resolutions
January 29 Event - Sustainable Resolutions: Agreement Writing for The New Year and Beyond
Facilitator: Izabela Solosi, NVMS Training Program Manager
CME/CLE credits: pending
Agreement writing is an essential skill every successful mediator must master. How do your skills measure up? In this workshop participants will have the opportunity to review agreement writing best practices, receive feedback on their agreement writing skills from their peers, and work in small groups to analyze real agreements and identify ways to improve them.
Optional: Bring along samples of agreements you have written and ask your peers for feedback!
- Review considerations for agreement writing
- Identify best practice techniques
- Analyze agreements and identify opportunities for improvement
February 26 - Co-Mediating Effectively: The Pre-Mediation Conversation
February 26 Event - Co-Mediating Effectively: The Pre-Mediation Conversation
Facilitators: Julia Morelli and James Meditz
Approved for 2 CMEs
Co-mediating offers benefits and challenges. In this workshop, participants will learn to better identify their own and their co-mediator's preferences, techniques, and approaches to the mediation process and managing the parties dynamics.
This session is for all mediators will draw on group's experience. It emphasizes the importance and value of the co-mediators having a purposeful pre-mediation conversation in advance of convening the session. In recognizing and discussing their individual preferences and expectations, co-mediators can best assist the parties in achieving a successful outcome. While drawing on existing lists of topics and processes used in advanced mediation training and the mentoring process, this interactive session will expand on those topics as well as look deeper into the nuances of them that may be significant for co-mediators.
This session is intended to benefit mediators with all levels of experience.
- Develop an appreciation of the value of and complexity of preparing to co-mediate.
- Develop an approach to co-mediator conversations that align expectations around professional and individual preferences between co-mediators.
- Develop a comprehensive approach to preparing for future co-mediations.
April 2018 - "Selling" Mediation: From the First Phone Call to the First Mediation Session
April 30 Event – “Selling” Mediation: From the first phone call to the first mediation session
Time: 7-9pm (7-7:30pm networking)
Facilitators: Dr. Virginia Colin and Philip Mulford
1.5 CMEs – Pending Approval
The first phone conversation with a client is a crucial part in whether an inquiry turns into a mediation. The facilitators will guide participants in considering how to create party buy-in and address challenging questions that may deter parties from moving forward. Some questions that will guide the conversation:
- If one party is eager to mediate and the other is reluctant, how do you handle that?
- What aspects of mediation may parties be hesitant about?
- To what extent are you still “selling” mediation in your first face-to-face meeting with clients?
- If one party decides to drop out of mediation and the other calls you asking how to pull them back in, what do you say?
- Explore techniques to build trust and rapport with parties and encourage them to try the process.
- Develop ideas on how to address challenging questions.
- Share experiences and approaches.
Dr. Virginia Colin and Philip Mulford, led the April0 COP session on “Selling Mediation: How Do You Get from the First Phone Call to the First Mediation Meeting?” The facilitators first established the following three basic precepts to which all participants agreed.
- Mediation sells itself as a more efficient, less expensive, and less distressing alternative to litigation, with party control over the outcome;
- To “sell” mediation is basically to describe the process; and
- A mediator must preserve neutrality and confidentiality from the start.
The facilitators then raised, and the group explored, the following ideas to sell mediation from the initial call while preserving neutrality and confidentiality:
- Limiting a party’s discussion of facts in the initial conversation and focusing on providing general information about mediation verses permitting the caller to tell his/her story as an opportunity to show compassion and build trust and provide general information about mediation.
- Declining requests to call the non-calling partner to discuss mediation versus encouraging the caller to suggest the other party contact the mediator and provide the mediator’s contact information and website.
- Initiating follow up calls and/or emails versus awaiting the client’s contact.
- Initiating screening questions - to screen for physical abuse, substance and alcohol abuse, intimidation, restraining orders, the need for separate rooms, etc., - in the initial call verses screening by various other means from the initial contact throughout the mediation process.
- Inviting third party support persons and attorneys to attend mediation and setting parameters, as required.
- The group also explored some frequently asked questions posed by the facilitators and considered the following potential responses:
“How long will the mediation take?”
Response: Ask what the parties plan to mediate and estimate the time based on the issues.
“What can I do to prepare for mediation?”
- Review the mediator’s website.
- Bring as many documents listed on the site as reasonably possible.
- Avoid trying to resolve the issues before mediation, (as it tends to cause parties to lock into their positions.)
“May I bring my attorney?”
Response: Attorneys are welcome. However, the parties are the primary participants in mediation. If only one party is represented, all parties must consent to allow the attorney to attend the mediation sessions. Third party support persons may attend the mediation only with the consent of all parties. All non-parties who attend the mediation sessions must agree in writing to confidentiality.
June 25 - Ace Your Orientation
June 25 Event - Ace Your Orientation
Time: 7-9pm (7-7:30pm networking)
Facilitators: Cindy O'Connor and Kevin Dillon
1.5 CMEs - Pending Approval
The Orientation, and the Agreement to Mediate that informs it is the mediator's opportunity to build trust, rapport, and set the framework for a successful mediation. As each case is different, Orientations and Agreements to Mediate can vary with the type of client and type of mediation (e.g., family v. civil, mediations with attorneys present, parties who are voluntarily in mediation v. court-referred, etc.). Panelists Cindy O'Connor and Kevin Dillon will discuss the issues to be considered in drafting an agreement to mediate and tailoring the orientation to the parties. Participants will have the opportunity to examine examples of Agreements to Mediate that have been designed for particular situations. The discussion will provide food for thought for mediators at all levels -- students, new mediators, as well as those who have many years' of experience.
- Review considerations for tailoring the Agreement to Mediate.
- Review considerations for tailoring your orientation.
- Analyze examples of Agreements to Mediate that have been designed for particular situations.
Orientation is a key and essential phase of a successful mediation. At the COP Session on Monday, June 25, 2018, guest panelists Kevin Dillon and Cynthia O'Connor spurred a lively discussion on best practices, problem-solving and practical tips for crafting an orientation that dissolves roadblocks and builds a strong basis upon which a mediation can succeed.
Some of the best practices offered included the following.
- Use the orientation to draw the parties into the process: Most people don’t understand what mediation is, what it is not or how it works. Some people are preoccupied and/or too agitated to listen. Don’t rush. Read body language and use people skills to settle the parties down. Ensure that they understand the core elements of mediation, e.g., voluntariness, self-determination, reliance on good faith, respect and courtesy, listening, preservation of rights to a court determination, etc. Give examples, where appropriate, to clarify, e.g.,
- Confidentiality: If the parties get angry and say “reportable” things, the mediator is a mandatory court reporter of certain statements which can affect the party’s job, security clearance, etc.,
- Voluntariness: The parties can stop the mediation at any time, and should understand that they can return to court for adjudication. However, they should objectively weigh the alternatives, i.e., what a court can decide, that a judgment may require collection, and how judgment could affect a party’s credit, etc.
- Good faith: All relevant information should be on the table, e.g., pending promotion, intent to file an action in another court, forum shopping, etc.
- Tailor the orientation and the agreement to participate in mediation of a private case. However, in doing so, always ensure that:
- All mandatory elements are met; and
- If the case is part of a court program or organization’s roster, all court/organization’s requirements are met.
- Ensure that the people in the room are authorized to be there. Know who the parties are and ensure that each of them is authorized to make final decisions.
- “A waste of time?” Use reality testing to win the debate. When a party says that mediation is a waste of time, remind him/her that s/he has already taken the day off from work, driven to the courthouse, attended the court session, etc. If mediation works, the case is over and the matter is, hopefully, resolved.