Many of us have an established community or network of peers in our professions of origin, whether that be law, social work, education, counseling, or any of a myriad of other fields. But as mediators in private practice, we often find ourselves isolated. The Dispute Resolution Centers with whom many of us volunteer offer debriefing and support for the mediations we conduct with them. But what about the mediations that we conduct on our own?
When we want to celebrate a successful mediation, or when we need to talk about that nagging concern that we could have done something differently, tried a different strategy, or a used a different tool, whom do we turn to? If we have friends who also happen to be mediators, or if there happens to be an ADR networking event coming up, the answer is relatively easy. But there is no structured forum in which to debrief, talk about what worked and what did not, be creative, or brainstorm ideas.
Enter the "peer consultation group". This is not an established group, but rather the germ of an idea that has formed in conversations with a number of fellow mediators over the last year or so. As one of them pointed out, therapists have peer consult groups - why shouldn't mediators create something similar? Imagine my surprise when I brought up the idea at a recent networking event and received an immediate and enthusiastic response, both at the event itself and afterwards.
I have to admit that I cannot claim this idea solely as my own. However, I have reached out to organize a small group that is going to give this a try, and will have its first meeting soon. If it works, and if we are able to generate ideas that may be scalable to a larger group or an online forum, I hope that this is something that can be of benefit to many more mediators in the near future.
In the meantime, please feel free to contact me if you have any questions or ideas, or - if you are an ADR professional in the greater Seattle area - this is something that may be of interest to you.