How to Become a Mediator

To become a mediator, begin with a 40-hour basic mediation training class. For hands-on experience in conducting the mediation process, look for a mediation class that includes several role plays. But one or even several classes will not prepare you sufficiently for professional mediation. You’ll need to accumulate real case experience.

Fortunately, community mediation agencies are now widespread, and these agencies recruit and depend upon an army of volunteer mediators to service their caseload. Completion of a basic 40-hour mediation training and perhaps an in-person interview are usually the only requirements to join a community mediation agency’s panel of mediators.

Your local courthouse might provide another source from which to accumulate mediation experience. Many states and municipalities have mediation programs — often staffed by volunteer mediators — for small claims, fair housing, victim-offender, and family cases. Whereas a few programs are restricted to attorneys or licensed mental health professionals, others have lesser requirements.

When seeking case experience, take as many cases as you can. Of course, it’s best to gain experience in a variety of case types (child custody, neighbor-to-neighbor, tenant-landlord, homeowner association, etc.), but don’t worry if that proves impracticable. If you keep your eyes and ears open, you should find opportunities to fortify your mediation skills.

For additional help in gaining mediation experience, ask for suggestions when you join a regional mediation association or attend association events. Ask mediation trainers too. And search Google, Yahoo!, and Bing using keywords like community mediation [your city], volunteer mediators [your city], and alternative dispute resolution [your city].

If you’re still hungry for more case experience, form your own mediation study group. You only need a few like-minded individuals — perhaps a cadre of students from a class you recently attended. Volunteer to host weekly or monthly meetings or rendezvous at a local coffee shop. Spend some time talking about the theory and practice of mediation, but devote the majority of the meeting to mediation role plays. Of course, you’ll need to create mediation case scenarios and take turns to play parties and mediators. To get started, you’ll find one such mediation role-play here. I wrote it for a study group I attended several years ago.

Finally, some shameless self-promotion: For specific advice on setting up and operating a mediation practice, visit my personal mediator mentoring and mediator career coaching site. Here you’ll find not only career resources for purchase but also many free tips and pointers and a link to my mediation blog.

[Recommendations provided by , Administrator, National Mediation Training Registry]

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