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Professional international collaboration should be here to stay

Date:15 JUL 2021
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Chief Executive, NFM

Scores of family mediators from the UK, USA and Ukraine joined an innovative online free training event in mid-June, which National Family Mediation was proud to co-host along with international partners.

‘Financial issues in family mediation’ involved mediators based in each of the three countries carrying out live role-play scenarios, working with separating couples to mediate and resolve financial issues, watched via Zoom by fellow professionals.

It is always fascinating to watch other professionals work, because we can learn so much about techniques that might be adopted in our own practice. And this event also gave a interesting glimpse of the ways different legal processes operate in the various countries, and how these impact on local mediation practices.

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After such a long period of isolation for us all, it was good to feel somehow ‘connected’ again, albeit courtesy of Zoom, enabling the sharing of best practice by professionals from:

  • The Mediation Association of Colorado, USA
  • National Family Mediation, UK
  • Association for Family Mediators of Ukraine, and
  • National Association of Mediators of Ukraine.

I know that attendees found it thought-provoking, as it successfully generated discussions and networking between practitioners about a range of issues, including children’s involvement in family mediation. Being ‘on the outside looking in’ also gave attendees a useful objective insight into how participants in mediation feel about the process. So the event provided an unusual and most welcome CPD opportunity.

One of the most fascinating insights for me was being reminded – simply by observing – about the brilliance of professional mediators. How they are able to control and direct discussions between two people who are not generally well-disposed towards each other. They weigh up a whole range of considerations that emerge during the session, taking them in their stride – apparently effortlessly - before bringing a time-limited meeting to a conclusion.

The idea for this joint session originally came from Ukraine practitioners, and I know they were driven not only by a wish to learn from other countries’ practice, but also to help put them into a position to influence their domestic family law policy.

I’m keen to remain involved in this successful initiative, and will be discussing the possibility of involving other nations if and when something similar is arranged for 2022.

By then, of course, we may well have eased into more in-person practice. However, I firmly believe the use of video conferencing, forced on us by the pandemic, is here to stay in one form or another.

‘Financial issues in family mediation’ was a prime example of the type of event that simply would not have happened without the common use of Zoom. International collaboration and sharing of best practice has become simpler to achieve. Let’s hold on to that precious gain.

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