Mediation conference: let's help you get well

Our November 2017 mediation conference was organised around the theme of divorce mediation, to which we invited international mediators to share their experiences. Christian Bos, founder, head of IEDRS, mediator Christian Bos spoke about his mediation experience in Luxembourg, France and Belgium.

Our November 2017 mediation conference was organised around the theme of divorce mediation, to which we invited international mediators to share their experiences.

Presentation of the IEDRS mediation institute in Luxembourg - Christian Bos IEDRS leader, founder, mediator 

Christian Bos spoke about his mediation experience in Luxembourg, France and Belgium

He started his presentation with a poetic question: How can mediation be considered a profession if the mediation practitioners do not agree professionally?

After 15 years of experience as a judge, Christian sees that the judges' judgement can never be as good as people's own judgement, which is why he decided to work as a mediator instead. He has gained most of his experience in family cases, where he has seen that it is difficult for the parties to accept that the mediator is not advocating their rights. In divorce cases, the child is often used as a weapon by the parents. It is therefore important to talk about whether to include the child in mediation when facilitating communication between parents. The IEDRS takes the position that mediation is a professional profession in its own right, and therefore adults have a place.

If the mediator gives advice in the mediation process (for example, from another field, such as law or psychology), he or she is committing professional misconduct. The mediator's job is to help the adult find a way of communicating with the child outside of mediation. The mediator must be independent, impartial and create a suitable atmosphere of trust to allow the parties to say anything freely.

For the future of mediation, it is important to have a clear, well-defined process of professional dialogue.

Since mediation is an option in both civil and criminal cases, it would be obligatory for the various professionals to inform the parties that they should try to resolve their conflict using this method. IEDRS mediators are working on a process to sensitise governments to make mediation mandatory before any legal process. They know that mediation is a voluntary process, but it is important that clients are informed.

Their long-term goal is to make mediation as widespread as possible.

Mediator experiences in non-verbal communication and transaction analysis (TA) in terms of Christophe de Meeus - IEDRS partner, trainer, mediator

We all have conflicts that are a natural part of human relationships. However, if not handled properly, they can escalate, for example in a work environment, to the point of suicide attempts in extreme cases. They must be prevented. First, it is worth understanding how conflict works. The difficulty lies in the fact that emotions are difficult to manage. And this is what causes 80% of conflicts. And if negative emotions dominate for a long time, we cannot end the conflict. During mediation, clients need to express these feelings so that they can then be able to calm them down. For this we need communication tools. A separate discussion with the client at the start of mediation can be a good opportunity to do this. But first and foremost, it is important that the mediator is clear about his or her own feelings. Sufficient self-awareness is important to understand one's own reactions.

The IEDRS practice of working through clients' own emotions can be implemented in the separate handover. The mediator can use the questions to guide the parties towards change. What happened that brought about the change? What has changed? In the process, emotions should be captured. The story is a guide for the client, but it should not lead the mediator into excessive detail or interpretation. It is important for the mediator to help the parties to communicate forward, but not to give advice. Therefore, it is of particular importance from a TA perspective that the mediator adult self-statestay in and not communicate from the rescuing parent, so be able to control your own emotions.

According to the IEDRS, a mediator can work on all types of cases, without having to specialise in one type of case. Empathy is just as important in any interview, where the focus is on the other person and not on yourself.

As a mediator, we need to know different behaviours because they help us to understand our clients, which is why NLP, TA, non-verbal communication basics are taught at IEDRS. Our aim is not to become mediators specialists in these methods, just to understand how people work.

To see the non-verbal signs of others, we need to know our own feelings. We have to learn them on ourselves. We need to learn about ourselves at the beginning of the learning process in order to understand others well later on. We all have the capacity to recognise and understand. We pay attention not only to what the other person says, but also to the gestures they use. These signs can be learned.

Separate whether someone is an expert in non-verbal means or a mediator. The mediator should ask questions, not interpret things independently.

All signals provide us with information, but not all of them are meaningful. The use of the right hand, for example, is associated with the left hemisphere, which is the centre of logical analysis. And there are many signals that we can link to the right hemisphere, which is the centre of emotions, visualisation, creativity. If we listen with empathy, then the signs of non-verbal communication can help us. It is important for the mediator to pay attention to these signs so that he or she can guide the process well. Body language can give us clues about many emotions. Before people open their mouths, they are already communicating with their bodies. If we see a sign, for example, when someone is very quiet and puts their hand over their mouth, we can ask them if they want to say something?

We can distinguish between 1500 and 2000 non-verbal signals. As this is too many, let's progress gradually in learning. Eye and hand movements are of paramount importance. We must rely on both sight and hearing as senses to get a complete picture of the speaker.

Transactional analysis in mediation 

As in the process of learning non-verbal signals, we can only apply the principles of transactional analysis (TA) to ourselves at first. According to the IEDRS school of thought, within the parent and child self-states, there are 4 parts, with negative and positive content. The parent may be caring, within which he is either giving (positive) or saving (negative), or critical, within which he is either normative (positive) or persecuting (negative). The child may be adaptive, within which he is either conforming (positive aspect; the subcategory is called the same by design) or subordinate (negative), or rebellious, within which he is either free (positive) or rebellious (negative aspect; the subcategory is called the same by design).

What we consider positive and achievable in mediation, for the sake of communication, is the adult self-state.

  • According to the questionnaire sent out in advance, if your adult ego level is high (above 10 points), you have the ability to inform, summarise, question, listen. The adult allows us to choose the other self-states according to the situation.
  • By reaching out to clients and informing them, it is possible to give from the caring parent self. For example, if the client is aggressive, we can help the client from the normative parent self, say by repeating the rules.
  • In the case of divorce, we cannot go back into the parents' past, because there is a line between mediation and therapy. If a couple sees that a relationship is over, a mediator can help them to understand this. If the mediator keeps his/her distance and does not judge, he/she can also help by.
  • We can't refer them to a psychologist, but we can make them aware that they can seek outside help.

No games - Adults at the negotiating table SolomonDorottya trainer, coach, mediator, Gordon & TA Ltd.

How can the mediator stay in the adult self-bed?

The difference between mediation vs court proceedings is also relevant for TA. Mediation invites adult-adult communication by the very placement of the equipment; the focus is on accompaniment rather than truth-telling, and the rules are more flexible. The judge, on the other hand, is present more from the critical parental self-state.

Game situations, a series of transactions with hidden motives, move towards a well-defined, predictable outcome, with the aim of achieving some kind of profit. An important tool can be the understanding attention and the confrontational self-message sent from the adult self-state.

It is a typical game situation in mediation when the process is going nowhere. One goal of this may be a gain for the game starter, in which it is acknowledged that it is not possible to move the parties towards a solution.

Typical games

  • "Court" - now tell us who is right!
  • "And in addition"
  • "Yes, but"
  • "You can see that I have tried everything" (psychological need: I should not be ordered around)

The following methods can help to stop the games:

  • empathic understanding
  • recognition
  • Reflection
  • special negotiation
  • "let's take this hot topic off the table now"


Our children's games in divorce - Ágnes Kőszegi - consultant, Gordon & TA Kft

During divorce, it is often symptomatic if children experience a change in academic average or behaviour. The pre-divorce and post-divorce periods are the most difficult emotionally. Play tends to come into children's lives before the divorce because they often want to keep the family together. If there is a sibling or a grandparent, the child has someone to talk things through with. Experience shows that children are reluctant to talk to parents about divorce.

Emotions determine the game people play.

Children are in a vulnerable position, with only waiting. Bringing the child's best interests into mediation issues can be important, because if parents are angry, they won't listen to each other.

In families, there may be taboos that make children afraid or unable to express what is inside them in words. Or they may rebel - or, as adaptable children, they may say what their parents want to hear. Because of this, parents can point fingers at each other when they use the child as a tool. A free child's sense of self can help the child to work out his or her emotions, for example by letting out tensions in sports or artistic activities. If the parents can communicate without anger, the child's communication can come in sooner, in his or her best interests. It is important to listen to what they are afraid of, what they feel. When parents come to mediation during divorce, the interests of parents and children should be harmonized.

While talking to parents, the effects of divorce should also be considered - from the children's point of view, but it would be good to spare children from adult mediation.

We hope that by the end of the conference, new contacts and inspirations will have been made that will bring the profession together in the future to start more dialogue.

Thanks to Dr. Zsuzsa Várkonyi Karsai, Dr. Peter Várkonyi and Dr. For Flora Bacsó.

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