Tips for those worries about attending mediation from Emma Ingham

Even though I love being a family mediator and the work that I do, I can appreciate that most of my clients will not be looking forward to coming to see me.  In fact, 9 times out of 10, when I ask my clients how they are feeling about their first joint mediation meeting, they will say they feel nervous and anxious.  Their stomachs are in knots.  They’ve had sleepless nights, thinking about the session.  This is totally understandable. The mediation process is unfamiliar and there may be tough conversations ahead.

  Here are 5 tips for people who might be feeling this way

  • Have an open mind.  Attending a mediation meeting is a positive step, which means that there is hope for a resolution and moving forwards.  It’s also worth remembering, even though you may not see eye to eye on matters at the moment, your ex-partner will, in all likelihood, be feeling nervous as well.  It helps to create a space beforehand to calm yourself if you’re feeling nervous. Use an app like calm or headspace or have a short walk outside beforehand if you can.
  • Doing some preparation will help.  Write some notes about the topics or issues you would like to discuss with your ex-partner and what you hope to achieve out of the mediation process.  If you’re worried about anything then ask the mediator beforehand so you don’t worry about not knowing what will happen in the meeting. If your matter concerns finances, try and have a good understanding of your financial situation and have the documentation you need to hand.  You mediator can provide one, but a calculator is essential! If you need some information then have a look at Resolution’s handy guides.
  • If you feel nervous about coming face to face with your ex-partner, consider online or shuttle mediation.  Most mediators are experienced with conducting online mediations and it can make you feel more relaxed to be in familiar surroundings and not having the added pressure of coming face to face with your ex-partner.  If you do not wish to see your ex-partner at all, either on screen or in person, you can proceed by using shuttle mediation.  This is where the mediator will facilitate a discussion between both parties by moving between them and relaying their thoughts and perspectives. 
  • Remember that mediation is a voluntary process.  This means that, at any time, if you feel overwhelmed and do not wish to continue, all you need to do is to tell the mediator you wish to stop or pause mediation, and this is what will happen.  The mediator will not try and persuade you to continue.  You are in control. 
  • The mediator is there to support both clients.  Tell the mediator what support you feel you need, to have the most positive experience possible – whether this means the mediator using different language to explain options, or even if you need a tea break during a session. Your mediator will understand you may be feeling nervous and will want to know how best to support you. So tell them!