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How is mediation like...

What do mediation, dog training, football, sailing and a symphony orchestra have in common?

While this might seem like a very strange question at first glance, it is possible, that by learning more about mediation, particularly transformative mediation, we will be able to identify similarities and connections.


Ok there are no dogs in the mediation room, nor is there an actual sailboat or professional football team, nor is there a symphonic orchestra ready to serenade us, (although anything is possible) there are however similarities.....all five are dependent in some way on relationships.

Often, when I mention the word 'relationship' many people back away, mostly because this word has a lot of baggage attached to it. Bad or broken relationships between past partners, lovers and spouses bring back bad memories. Here in this blog, 'relationship' simply refers to an affiliation, network, alliance or exchange. This relationship may be dependent or independent. Relationships can easily occur between people, nature, objects, pets and the relationships can also be direct or indirect. (more on this concept of direct and indirect relationships later)

If you have a problem with your family dog, (he barks too much, won't sit or stay for you or always sleeps on your favorite chair), you have options. You could give up believing the dog will never learn or you could seek assistance from a professional dog trainer.

Those people who choose to use a dog trainer soon come to realize that the trainers focus is not solely to train the dog. The trainer focusses on teaching you and the dog to begin understanding each other and to develop a relationship so that your dog would want to listen to you and respond to your commands. Once this relationship is developed, the problems disappear.

Sailing a boat is also about a relationship. This relationship is different since the relationship is between the sailor, the boat and the sea. If you have a problem with your boat (you keep flipping it over again and again), it eventually becomes clear that you don't fully understand how the sails work with the wind and waves. You have the option of dropping your sails, turning on the engine and motor around the lake yet most sailors wouldn't consider this to be sailing. Alternatively you could find someone who would help you to gain a better understanding of how the sails react to the wind and waves. Once you figure this out, you gain a greater understanding cannot you can all work together, allowing you to keep your boat upright and sailing in the direction you want to go.

On a boat, once you realize how moving your sails in one direction will move your boat in a particular direction either into the wind or away from it, your 'relationship' with your boat and your respect for her, the wind and water will greatly improve making you a much better (and drier) sailor, which, after all, is what you wanted in the first place. Had you focused solely on the one problem (flipping the boat) you would not be looking at the bigger picture of how necessary it is for all elements to work together in order to attain success.

I think my football example is the easiest. One can read books about moving the ball downfield and practice for years and years perfecting your skill. The problems begin when there are conflicts between the players or there is a new player who isn't in-sinc with the rest of the team either on or off the field. The relationships between the trainer, captain and teammates is imperative. Working together, in-sinc, knowing at all times where your teammates are as well as their capabilities will win games. Being able to anticipate your teammate’s next move is what the game is all about. How many times have we seen a strong football player transfer to another team because of interpersonal conflicts? Too many. These events could have been resolved had the players worked on working together instead of focusing on the interpersonal problems. Had a mediator been involved, the team might not have lost a very valuable player.

In a symphonic orchestra, each musician has been practicing for many years and is expert with their instrument. When the musicians come together there are sometimes problems between the musicians and, it becomes the conductors job to get the music in-sinc and for the musicians to play in harmony. If just one musician is off beat or out of tune then the entire musical piece is 'off'. The conductor has options. He can replace the 'problem' musician as there are always many people waiting for the opportunity to play in an orchestra or The conductor can work with the musicians, not to teach them how to play, but to get them to play collaboratively with the other musicians. The conductor works with the entire musical piece striving for harmony while assisting the musicians build a musical relationship amongst the entire orchestra.

In mediation, people often bring a specific conflict to the table and ask the mediator to fix it for them. Most mediators will point out to the parties that it is up to them to find the resolution. If they wanted someone else to fix their problems, there are other very effective venues for that, namely courts and tribunals where a judge or adjudicator will decide who is right and who is wrong.

Inherent in the mediation process is; when there is an ongoing relationship between the parties, then the relationship needs working on as well, in order to solve the problem. In transformative mediation, the presented conflict is viewed as only part of the problem. The relationship is focused on so that the parties are able to better understand each other and find ways to work together in the future in a much more collaborative way.

It's true that not all conflicting parties have direct relationships as in workplace conflicts between two or more co-workers. Some conflicting parties (civil and commercial as examples) might never work together again...in these cases they might have indirect relationships, through colleagues, friends etc. Where reputations remain very important. If the conflict is dealt with in a courtroom and disparaging comments are made about the parties and each side is focused solely on winning then any remaining respect between the parties disintegrates and feelings of animosity take over. Too often, both parties end up losing by way of badmouthing the other post trial.

The morale here is the vast majority of conflicts or problems have deep rooted issues that stem from the interpersonal relationships between the parties in conflict. In order to have long lasting resolution, the parties need to work on these issues and not simply the presenting problem.

Transformational Mediation, as mentioned, focusses on the relationship. By 'fixing' the relationship, the presenting conflict can easily be resolved and the parties leave the mediation respecting the other party...a very different resolution when compared to courts and tribunals.



TrainingMEDIATION INTERNATIONAL offers a wide range of training courses (both in-house and online) tailored to meet the needs of our clients.

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Qué es la mediacíonMediation is a method of dispute resolution in which parties to an action attempt to reach an agreement with the assistance of a mediator.

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ADR & MEDIATIONMEDIATION INTERNATIONAL offers a wide range of conflict related services locally, in-house and internationally.

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International Mediation Institute

MEDIATION INTERNATIONAL is one of the few international mediation training organizations approved as a Qualifying Assessment Program (QAP) for IMI Certification. As such, graduates from our rigorous program have the opportunity to receive international certification and be listed on IMI´s roster of mediators.
Requirements to participate in the IMI approved course are listed on our website.


Our courses are run every 2 months starting on the second Monday
Please contact us at kevinbarrybrown@gmail with any questions or registration.




MEDIATION INTERNATIONAL is a leading mediation and ADR training service provider operating throughout Spain, across Europe and internationally. We provide mediation services, basic-advanced training, mentorship and coaching, qualifications and mediation competency assessments for experienced mediators.


MEDIATION INTERNATIONAL offers Competency Assessments to successful and select graduates of MEDIATION INTERNATIONAL and other mediation programs. These Competency assessments are offered to individuals based on assessed competency and are designed to assess the levels of competency and performance of practicing mediators.


Competency assessments are offered twice annually in select regions internationally and are organised collaboratively among MEDIATION INTERNATIONAL and local mediation associations. Further information may be obtained by contacting the organiser at kevinbarrybrown (at) gmail.com


The advanced training programmes of MEDIATION INTERNATIONAL are detailed under each of the IMI criteria. As the IMI criteria evolves further, MEDIATION INTERNATIONAL will evolve its own program to remain consistent with the IMI criteria and the MEDIATION INTERNATIONAL website will be updated to reflect these changes.


 QAP Approved 2012


1 Mediator Experience.

The Qualifying Assessment Program (QAP) must include a methodology for ensuring that Applicants have demonstrated to the satisfaction of the Program's Assessors a substantial level of experience as a mediator. The QAP must include clearly identified criteria on this requirement.

To pursue an advanced ADR training course with MEDIATION INTERNATIONAL and achieve IMI certification, a candidate must have completed a minimum of 5 mediations (either as a sole or a lead co- mediator). Of those mediations, at least 2 must have been remunerated either on an individual case basis or salaried.

Additionally, MEDIATION INTERNATIONAL requires candidates to have completed at least 20 hours of continuing professional development in mediation through attendance of courses, workshops or seminars on ADR, mediation or related subject matters.

For a MEDIATION INTERNATIONAL accredited mediator to be qualified for IMI Certification, MEDIATION INTERNATIONAL will require that each candidates experience exceeds 200 hours (the equilavent of 20 mediations) as recommended by IMI in the 2 years preceding the application. To track the requisite experience, an applicant must produce a time log that addresses the following for each mediation conducted:

  • the type of mediation (e.g., civil and commercial, employment, family, etc.);
  • the length of the mediation in total (expressed in hours); and,
  • the month(s) and year during which the mediations occurred.


2 Mediation Knowledge.

The QAP must include a methodology for determining that Applicants have demonstrated a strong understanding of general mediation theory and practice which may be based on written tests, essays, reports, theses interviews and/or other testing platforms.

All MEDIATION INTERNATIONAL Accredited Mediators have undertaken 60 hours of mediation training and 60 hours of theoretical study before accreditation. In addition, to be eligible to be qualified for IMI Certification, a candidate must complete a series of written and oral exercises that evaluates the candidate’s knowledge of mediation theory and practice as well as a self assessment. These exercises are completed prior to as well as post training.

For the initial written exercise, the candidate is assessed on mediation theory including;

  • Dispute settlement paradigms and techniques
  • Negotiation theory
  • Court processes
  • Conflict resolution concepts
  • Mediation processes and techniques
  • Standards of conduct
  • Ethical issues for mediators

For the post training exercise, the candidate is assessed on advanced mediation theory practice and negotiation including;

  • Advanced dispute settlement paradigms and techniques
  • Advanced negotiation skills
  • Advanced mediation processes and techniques
  • Advanced communication skills
  • Theories for identifying areas of agreement between the parties
  • Diversity issues

MEDIATION INTERNATIONAL requires its candidates to pass both written exercises prior to proceeding to the oral/practice component of the assessment process.

The oral assessment is categorized into 4 components:

1)    Overall knowledge of mediation, negotiation and conflict management

2)    Self assessment of the candidates strengths and challenges

3)   Understanding of theories for identification of areas of potential agreement between the  parties

4)    Visual assessment of the candidate conducting a mediation


3 Mediator Skills.

The QAP must include a methodology for the evaluation of candidates' performance in terms of the occurrence and effectiveness of mediation process and mediation techniques, against high competency benchmarks. The Evaluations/Assessments may be based on roleplay or live action assessments, and may include videotaped and online assessments such as web dramas, self-assessments, interviews, peer reviews, user feedback and other in-practice skill evaluations.

MEDIATION INTERNATIONAL candidates are required to complete and pass a five-day programme in advanced mediator training. This programme includes an assessment by two qualified assessors, one being external to MEDIATION INTERNATIONAL. The practitioner must clearly demonstrate a high level of competence and knowledge in mediation theory, process and skills.

The applicant will undertake a minimum of 6 role-plays during the advanced training programme, one of which will be evaluated by two qualified assessors, one being external to MEDIATION INTERNATIONAL. A written analysis will be provided to each candidate as well as to MEDIATION INTERNATIONAL critically assessing the candidate against the anticipated outcomes.

All MEDIATION INTERNATIONAL advanced candidates are encouraged to attend monthly held peer review and organized role-play opportunities to hone their own skills while assessing and peer coaching other candidates in a supervised environment.

Role Play Assessment Benchmarks

Two assessors evaluate a candidate’s performance in a role play across six areas of competency:

  • Overall skills and abilities: Keeping parties focused, assisting parties identify Interests. Use of pre-mediation and caucus. Consideration of the needs of others. Inclusion. Demonstrated understanding of the positions, issues and interests of the parties and ability to assist parties move through the stages of mediation.
  • Communication: Use of empathy, reframing, reflection, questioning skills, active listening, use of learned ADR skills.
  • Transparency: Identification of and disclosure of any real or potential conflicts of interests or bias. Consistently remaining impartial.
  • Pursuing collaboration: Pursuit of collaborative options and solutions, assisting in the generation of ideas. Identification of hidden interests.
  • Generating Agreements: Effectiveness in moving the parties toward finality and ‘closing’ an agreement at the appropriate interval.
  • Managing the Interaction: Effective strategy development, managing the process, coping with conflicts at the mediation table. Comfort level with difficult questions.

In situations where the evaluators significantly differ in their assessments, a third assessor will be assigned to consider the assessments.


4 Program Transparency.

The benchmarks and criteria applied by the QAP must be published and be openly accessible on the organization's website. Details of all approved programs will be listed on the IMI web portal www.IMImediation.org and will include a direct link to the credentialing organizations' websites.

Upon successful acceptance of this application, MEDIATION INTERNATIONAL will publish on our website the benchmarks and criteria to qualify for IMI Certification. They will be available for public scrutiny, query, and feedback at:http://www.mediationinternational.eu


5 Program Integrity.

Each Assessor must have substantial experience of assessing the performance of mediators. At least one of the Assessors on each Program must be independent of the QAP.

All Assessors of the MEDIATION INTERNATIONAL Qualifying Assessment Programme for IMI Certification are approved by the MEDIATION INTERNATIONAL Accreditation Committee. Approval is granted only when a potential assessor has clearly established to us that he/she has substantial experience both in mediation and the assessment of mediator skills.

At least one of the appointed assessors will be independent of MEDIATION INTERNATIONAL. Our assessors have varied backgrounds including academia, mediators, lawyers and social workers thus affording MEDIATION INTERNATIONAL the ability to provide well rounded assessments from both theoretical and practical perspectives.

The criteria to qualify as an assessor with MEDIATION INTERNATIONAL are, as follows;

  • Mediation experience: All assessors associated with MEDIATION INTERNATIONAL must have a minimum of five years experience in a mediation field or a minimum of 25 mediations equating to over 250 hours of practice as well as over 200 hours of training. 
  • Mentoring Experience: Our assessors are required to have extensive experience in the field of adult learning techniques, coaching, mentoring and assessment of mediator skills. 

An independent assessor is neither an employee nor a paid consultant of MEDIATION INTERNATIONAL in the training programme in which the assessment takes place.


6 Ongoing monitoring of Programs.

The QAP must include a process for the ongoing monitoring of the performance and practice of the Assessors. IMI will liaise closely with all recognised program organizers to maintain a sustainable quality control system.

The ongoing performance and quality of assessments is consistently monitored and reviewed by MEDIATION INTERNATIONAL’s principal’s and observers in order to ensure application of the high standards we adhere to.

Observers participate in oral exercises and our assessors meet regularly to ensure consistency of application of standards and expectations. MEDIATION INTERNATIONAL observers often attend these meetings.

Upon completion of each MEDIATION INTERNATIONAL training programme, a member of the accreditation committee meets with the lead assessor for a debriefing.

MEDIATION INTERNATIONAL is subject to and welcomes independent monitoring from IMI with regards to adherence to the IMI certification process.


7 Commitment to Diversity. 

The QAP must be accessible on an equal basis to experienced mediators regardless of their professional affiliations, gender, race, ethnicity, age, religion, sexual orientation or other personal characterization.

MEDIATION INTERNATIONAL offers our programmes to experienced mediators regardless of their professional affiliations, gender, race, ethnicity, age, religion, sexual orientation or other personal characterization.




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World Mediation Summit

MI is the Executive of the annual 'World Mediation Summit - Madrid' - www.worldmediationsummit.com