goals of the reflective process is married with the mediator's genuine
curiosity, it leads to new ways of appreciating and responding
to situations. The process may remind the mediator of a lesson
already learned, giving it a fresh perspective and new applications.
Sometimes the reflective process produces a blinding insight
about a choice the mediator made in the mediation or a moment
where he or she was stuck, confused or unsettled. The epiphanies
produced by the Reflective Debrief are remarkable to observe and
experience. The nature of the learning can reverberate for years.
It is a step in an unfolding learning process. Reflective Debrief
both helps us learn from the particular moment presented by the
mediator and helps us learn how to learn from our experiences.
While every mediator can benefit from the Reflective Debrief,
family mediators may be particularly well served by this type
of debrief. We are all family members in some form or another;
we have family relationships. Our lives are rich with our own
experience of family – expectations, values, disappointments and
losses. It is all too easy to conflate our situations with those of
our clients. When this happens, we may react as Anne did by
pushing away and blaming a party for their response to a difficult
situation. With the assistance of wise and thoughtful colleagues
we can learn to understand, experientially and not just in terms of
mediation principles, to separate ourselves from our clients. With
that insight, we can then identify strategies and techniques for
responding more capably with our clients. When we know why we
do the things we do, we are better able to do our work and more
effectively serve our clients.
For 35 years, as a practitioner, educator and author,
Michael Lang has been a passionate advocate for
mediation. He served as board member and president
of the Academy of Family Mediators and as Editor of
Susanne Terry is a mediator, facilitator, and consultant in
private practice in Vermont. She mediates for the Family
Court and is on mediator panels of several state agencies.
Susan teaches at Woodbury Institute of Champlain
College and Vermont Law School. In addition to her
work as a Divorce and Family Mediator, she is also
a Parent Coordinator working with High Conflict
families and is the statewide case supervisor for Parent
Coordination in Vermont.
Borko, H., Michalec, P., Timmons, S., Siddle., J., "Student Teaching Portfolios:
A Tool for Promoting Reflective Practice." Journal of Teacher Education, Vol. 48,
Houston, W.R., & Clift, R. T. (1990). "The potential for research contributions
to reflective practice." In R. T. Clift, W.R. Houston, & M.C. Pugach (Eds.),
Encouraging reflective practice in education: An analysis of issues and programs (pp.
208-222). New York: Teachers College Press.
Lang, M. and Taylor, A. The Making of a Mediator: Developing Artistry in
Practice. San Francisco, CA: Jossey Bass Publishers, 2000.
Schön, D. A. The Reflective Practitioner: How Professionals Think in Action. San
Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass Publishers, 1987.
ACRESOLUTION Spring 2013