Conflicts are a normal part of any family and are often inevitable. Family mediators help warring family members resolve issues such as divorce, separation, finance or child support peacefully outside stressful court processes. Good problem-solving and communication skills are key in this career.
What do Family Mediators do?
The main role of family mediators is to help families find fair and lasting solutions to problems. This involves;
- Explaining the mediation process to the parties involved
- Collecting all information surrounding a conflict
- Helping clients identify the real issues to be resolved
- Tailoring mediation sessions to fit client needs
- Listening impartially to matters raised by all parties
- Narrowing down to mutually accepted proposals
- Helping clients find amicable and legally binding solutions.
Family mediators don’t tell the wrangling parties what to do. They just provide useful information upon which sound decisions are made.
Family mediators are mostly based in office environments where they see clients on appointment. They work from 9am to 5pm, Monday through Friday. This schedule may, however, change to accommodate clients who prefer evening or weekend sessions.
Some mediators can work part-time.
The annual income for full-time family mediators is estimated at;
£20,000 to £30,000
Source: National Careers Service
You can join the family mediation profession by;
- Pursuing a foundation degree in areas such as law, social work, education, therapy or counseling.
- Applying for a trainee position in a company that provides family mediation services.
After gaining the relevant knowledge through a degree program, secure paid or voluntary work in child contact or family support centers to gain the experience required to move into family mediation.
Visit the National Association of Child Contact Centers website for more information on volunteering opportunities work.
Finally, you will need to pursue a family mediation training program offered or accredited by any of the following Family Mediation Council approved organizations;
- National Family Mediation
- Family Mediators Association
- College of Mediators
- Law Society
- ADR Group.
Upon completion of foundation training offered by any of the above FMC approved members, you will need to work alongside a qualified family mediator for at least 10 hours. This will help you gain the competence you need to work independently.
To mediate in cases that are funded by the public, you will need to undertake an Assessment of Professional Competence that is recognized by the Legal Aid Agency. It usually takes about two years to reach this level.
To maintain your membership with an FMC recognized body, you must participate in 10 hours of continued professional development annually. This involves undergoing regular supervision of a Professional Practice Consultant.
Skills, Abilities and Qualities
The skills and qualities needed for competence in family mediation include;
- Active listening skills
- Integrity and impartiality
- Tolerance to help you withstand high emotions, arguments and interruptions
- Empathy and a non-judgmental attitude
- Patience, creativity and effective problem solving
- Good knowledge of family law and its real life applications
Family mediators commonly work in:
- Mediation service firms
- Charity organizations
- Non-governmental organizations
- Private mediation companies
- Firms of solicitors
With vast work experience, you can become a service or start your own mediation firm. It is also possible to move into related careers such as counseling and social work.
The National Careers Service predicts that there will be about 160,000 jobs in this sector between 2014 and 2020. Besides pursuing a profession with several employment opportunities, you will also have the opportunity to help families manage conflicts.