Mediation guides people to see another point-of-view
Tuesday, July 9, 2013
One of family mediator Trish Thomas’ clients told her he had started out feeling like he was getting a “raw deal” where his son was concerned and ended up working out a parenting agreement with his former spouse that was fair and allowed him to have extra time with their son.
Feedback like this is one of the many rewarding aspects of Trish’s job.
“I know it sounds corny,” Trish begins with a laugh, “but working for LAO as a family mediator is my dream job.”
A self-described extrovert who’s always been captivated by other people’s stories, Trish was accustomed to having strangers confide in her. When she decided to make a career change four years ago, her decision to become a family mediator was a natural fit into a field that better suited her personality.
Joining LAO two years ago as a mediator working out of the family court at 47 Sheppard Ave. East also made sense: Trish always intended to work with low-income clients.
According to Trish, mediation sessions offer an effective way for parents who are separating to figure out custody, access, child support, parenting arrangements, vacation plans and other such matters.
“Even though parents love their children, sometimes they don’t realize how distracted they’ve become with their negative feelings for each other or how detrimental their fighting is to their child’s well-being.”
It’s a voluntary process, requiring both parents to agree to the use of a neutral accredited family mediator to help them discuss and resolve family relationship issues.
What’s the most common problem she sees? Too often, she observes that parents get caught up in unfinished business from their former relationship, which heightens the conflict between them.
“Even though parents love their children, sometimes they don’t realize how distracted they’ve become with their negative feelings for each other or how detrimental their fighting is to their child’s well-being,” she says.
She’s quick to stress that mediators don’t decide for people. Instead, they help parents focus on the best interests of their children and renegotiate their past relationship as a couple into a current relationship as co-parents.
She also points out that mediation offers people an opportunity to have a meaningful, focused conversation about their children in a safe, confidential environment. An impartial mediator, she says, can help guide clients towards a better understanding of the other person’s point-of-view, thereby reducing conflict.
Sometimes her conflict resolution skills even help eliminate the need for a separation altogether. Trish recalls one set of clients who chose to stay together after attending mediation sessions with her. They used the tools that Trish had taught them to resolve their issues.
“The true benefit is improved communication. People like to be heard,” she says simply. “Mediation helps to skim off some of the emotion as people calm down.”
If you’re interested in family mediation and live in the north Toronto region, please contact Trish at 416-979-2352 ext. 5193 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
For questions or further information, please contact: