Friday, February 23, 2007

Just who are these mediators, anyway?

Definition: A Mediator is a trained neutral party who assists parties in disputes to engage in a conversation about issues of dispute in a cooperative manner. The mediator guides the communication process ensuring that each person has a chance to be heard and express their understanding of the situation. Mediators help to clarify issues, facilitate negotiations, and serve as the scribe if an agreement is reached.

Note: In mediation, the parties not the mediator determine the final outcome of a mediation.

The NY Center's mediation program both staff and community volunteers mediate cases. To become a mediator a person must complete extensive training.

First, a mediator attends a Basic Mediation Training Course that meets NYS Unified Court System Office of Alternative Dispute Resolution Programs and Court Improvement Guidelines. That course serves as the foundation for a practicum and apprenticeship program. No one can become a certified mediator until they have completed the practicum and apprenticeship to the satisfaction of the supervisor.

In addition to the basic training, mediators learn to mediate more complex cases, such as civil court, parent/teen, child custody and visitation, by taking additional coursework. In addition, every mediator has an ethical obligation to keep their skills current by attending continuing education workshops and seminars.

The mediators who serve our community are educators, lawyers, mental health professionals, civil servants and concerned citizens with many different cultural and ethnic backgrounds.

Over the last decade, New York Center mediators provided more than 15,000 hours of pro/bono service to Staten Island residents.

If you would like to learn more about becoming a mediator, contact Kathy Vaughan, Director of Mediation Services.

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