CCR’s recently established Reflective Practice Group (RPG) grew out of a desire to provide a space for deep reflection on the practice and theory of mediation. The group is open to any mediator whether they are a volunteer with CCR or in private practice. RPG consists of mediator peers non-judgmentally exploring the assumptions and motivations that underlie the interventions mediators make during mediations. Rather than Monday morning quarterbacking the choices a mediator made during a particular mediation, we discuss in depth what led the mediator to take a particular course of action and whether there were conscious or unconscious assumptions and motivations at play for the mediator that may have impeded or curtailed progress in the mediation. Participants also discuss best practices, mediator ethics, and mediator tools.
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 first Wednesday of the month at CCR at 12 noon, 11 E Adams St, Suite 500, Chicago, IL 60603. If you can't join us in person, you can also video conference into the RPG. Contact Maia Buess for more information.