This thought crossed my mind recently during a particularly difficult and frustrating mediation. Observing was a new trainee mediator and in the post-session discussion, that very sentiment was raised by her, leading me to the conclusion that many mediators must ask that question of themselves when the going gets tough.

So, who are the mediators and why do they subject themselves to this role which, despite best efforts, can on occasion bear some resemblance to that of an “old firm” referee?

Most of us have a background in the caring professions or the public sector, though certainly not exclusively so. There are mediators who work, or who have worked, in the NHS, education, as counsellors, community and charity workers, in social work, law and so on.

What we have in common is a particular interest in supporting children and families and, in the case of Relationships Scotland, a fundamental belief that, for many separating or separated parents, the most appropriate way to arrange the ongoing care and parenting of the children concerned is through mediation and that parents are the people best placed to make decisions that are fair and workable for their children. If they cannot do this alone, we can provide that service and an environment where the conflict that some parents experience can be managed and, hopefully, a positive way forward found. Mediators have to have an awareness and insight into the needs of parents with relationship difficulties.

When we begin our training, we are all volunteers who have gone through quite a rigorous interview process. We are committed to the aims and values of Relationships Scotland and to helping our client group. That’s what we have to remember at those times when we might feel a referee’s whistle would be a useful addition to our toolkit …

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