Pre-Mediation or No Pre-Mediation

some models depend on the mediator (or someone working on the mediator’s behalf) to screen the case in advance of the mediation session. The disputants are interviewed during intake to discover their issues and the appropriateness of the case for mediation. In other models, pre-mediation or screening never occurs and the mediator starts the ses­ sion cold-with no knowledge of the issues or the disputants. Pre-mediation is a standard procedure in victim-offender mediation where the comfort and safety of the victim is paramount. Some divorce and family mediators use pre-mediation meetings to ascertain family dynamics and safety issues in high-conflict situations. In the case of Reymundo and Noah, in-depth pre-mediation probably would not be used, as the parties can be educated about the process during the opening statement phase. In Case 2.2, the mediator would pre-mediate separately with the parents and the school district to determine issues so the agenda for a meeting with limited time includes the concerns of all parties.

Allow Uninterrupted Disputant First Statements or Control When and How Long Each Person Speaks

Some models provide time for disputants to speak without interruption from the other party or the mediator-occasionally with no limits to the length of time a person may speak! Other models assume the mediator will actively, but constructively, interrupt the disputants to validate emotions, clarify ambiguities, reduce negativity, summarize, focus on the immediate task, or divert attacks on the other party. In the case of Reymundo and Noah, allowing uninterrupted comments at the outset probably would lead to an extensive diatribe against the other person-behavior not helpful to the goals of mediation. When accusatory comments persist, the mediator may choose to inter­ rupt the negative trend with emotional paraphrases, reframes, or other skills to moderate emotionality. In the more formal setting with Eli’s school in Case 2.2, however, allowing Jodi an uninterrupted chance to share her fears might be appropriate and cathartic.

Allow, Require, or Forbid Private Meetings between the Mediator and the Parties

A caucus is required by some models-a private meeting during the session between the mediator and each disputant. When time is short, the caucus can be used to speed up negotiation about distributive issues (like money). A few models forbid use of a caucus. Most models present the caucus as an option that the mediator may employ strategically. Even then, how a caucus is conducted varies. Some models require that if a meeting is held with one party, then the mediator must meet with the second party. Other approaches allow mediators to meet with only one person and then to return to the session. What is discussed in caucus in most models is considered confidential communication, although some models may allow the mediator to provide a range of offers to both parties derived from information garnered in caucus. Parties must be apprised of the confidentiality parameters of the caucus prior to any disclosure of information.

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