There are several benefits to meeting with other mediators to discuss issues that arise in practice. First, it gives the mediator a chance to process challenges. CCR volunteers debrief every case they mediate with a case manager, which is an excellent opportunity to learn from the experience. However, sometimes there is even more unpacking that could be done of a particular case, or a question arises after the debrief. While case managers are always happy to revisit a case with a volunteer, RPG provides an additional resource. Additionally, for mediators who are in private practice and don’t have an opportunity to debrief their cases, RPG provides that opportunity. Mediators sign a confidentiality agreement prior to each RPG session, meaning that what happens at RPG stays at RPG. Finally, RPG encourages what might be called a reflective mindset. It helps us to remain curious about our own practice of mediation through conversation with other mediators who may raise questions or possibilities that might not have occurred to us individually.
Topics for discussion at RPG range from what steps might have been taken in a specific mediation to the theoretical assumptions of the facilitative model and everything in between. There usually is not a set agenda, though sometimes organizers come with questions around a particular theme or issues that seem to be arising in mediations. For the most part, it is an open, freeform discussion inspired by what participants bring to the table.
Mediators at every level can benefit from attending a RPG. Experienced mediators can discover ways in which, having mediated for a long time, they may be trapped in their own rigidity about how mediation “works” and how it doesn’t. At the same time, less-experienced mediators can learn from the valuable experience of others and can test out some of their own theories about what works and what doesn’t in a supportive and non-judgmental environment.
Reflective practice groups are a valuable tool in the mediator’s kit. They help to keep us agile and curious. Join us for a lively discussion of practice and theory every second Wednesday of the month at CCR, 11 E Adams St, Suite 500, Chicago, IL 60603.