I receive certain questions regularly via email, so thought I’d post answers here to save some of you the time inquiring. If you have questions I haven’t addressed here, please do leave a comment at the foot of this post and I’ll do what I can to answer them there!
What was your career path?
How can I get into the mediation field?
Can someone with my background become a mediator?
How do I know if I’d be a good mediator?
What mediation certificate and grad programs do you recommend?
What mediation trainers do you recommend?
How do I get certified?
How much should I charge / how much do you charge?
I bought and read your book. Can you give me some feedback and advice?
I began mediating when I was a dean of students and faculty member at a private women’s college, as a necessary part of my work. I’d earned an undergrad degree in world literature (Middlebury College) and master’s and doctoral degrees in higher ed leadership (The University of Vermont). My dissertation work focused on human behavior change.
As I started to get more requests for help from other sectors of the campus and the president, then from other institutions, I realized I had a knack for conflict resolution and decided to take a course in mediation. That basic mediation course ultimately led to me resigning what was by then a vice presidency, enrolling full-time in a year-long, 500-hour post-bac certificate in mediation and conflict management, and using that year also to begin building my private practice.
I launched my full-time private practice in 1997 and later became a core faculty member and curriculum designer in Woodbury College’s nationally recognized graduate program in Mediation & Applied Conflict Studies. I have guest-lectured on mediation, negotiation, conflict resolution and mediation marketing at other institutions, including UMass Boston’s doctoral program in higher education, a non-credit course for UConn, and, in spring 2010, Lipscomb University.
Yes. How do I know this globally, without knowing your particular background? Because I’ve trained thousands of mediators at the basic, advanced and master’s level and I’ve seen terrific mediators who started professional life as horse trainers, realtors, anesthesiologists, builders, teachers and moms. I’ve seen terrific mediators whose profession of origin was counselor and attorney; I’ve seen some truly awful mediators who hail from those two professions, too.
While the flooding of attorneys into the mediation field is signaling to the public that the most common or acceptable background for a mediator is a legal degree, neither of those is true. It’s not about what you did before and in some cases, what you did before will blind you to what you don’t know or don’t do well yet.
Sometimes co-workers, family and friends will help wake you to your potential skill as conflict resolutionary. I think the best way is to take a basic mediation course, particularly the kind I describe below, and then ask your instructor for honest feedback. If you’re taking a course from a credible instructor, and not one whose primary drive is to get you to enroll in more trainings, then this will be helpful, objective feedback. If you’ve got good potential, happy day! If you stink at it, yes, that’ll be painful to hear, but less painful than investing thousands of dollars and three years of your life to find out others aren’t captivated by your skill.
I can comment on two programs with which I am familiar. I am sure there are other fine programs out there but I’ll restrict my opinions to those with which I have direct experience as a professor or guest. Both offer both certificates and master’s programs.
You mean other than the trainings I offer periodically? If you’d like to know each time I announce a training, I recommend you subscribe to my blog. If you want a basic mediation training and don’t want to wait ’til I offer one, either tell me you want one now, dammit or head to Woodbury’s Basic Mediation Workshop — they do a top-notch one and I occasionally still co-teach it.
Here’s a post I wrote on mediator certification. I was feeling particularly New York blunt that day.
Here’s a post I wrote about setting your mediation fee, with a link to help you calculate your overhead costs if you’re new to private practice or haven’t yet had the chance to tally those.
What I charge isn’t going to help you determine what you charge because I’ve been in the field successfully for quite a while and probably don’t have the same market you do. Sorry, telling you would just be feeding your voyeurism.
It’s always a treat to hear from folks who’ve read my book and are working to bring their passion for ADR to fruition as a business. And therein lies my dilemma, as I wish I had the time to reply in detail to each of you who so kindly takes the time to write because I want good mediators to get more work. But I have to decline because I can’t offer free consulting help or I’d be doing this 40 hours a week. Thanks for understanding.
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