Why mediators should get accredited. Ok, I’ll admit it, this is a shameless personal opinion piece. Regular readers will ask “What’s so new about that?” But this piece is entirely about my personal opinion, right or wrong, as to my thoughts on Family Mediation Council Accreditation.
The Family Mediation Standards Board (FMSB) state that there are roughly 1200 professionals in the UK call themselves family mediators, of which approximately 800 are Family Mediation Council Accredited (FMCA). The other 400 are actively working towards this very difficult to achieve standard. Whilst I can accept that 1200 mediators have registered with the FMSB, I don’t for a moment believe this is the actual number of professionals claiming the title.
The FMSB is relatively new (having only been established within the last 18 months) and the old guard of family professionals are rebelling somewhat against it. These professionals see the FMSB as just another level of bureaucracy with associated fees to be paid and not as a permanent part of the future of family law.
There is no question however that the shape of family law is changing, and changing rapidly. I would even go so far as to say that it’s not a future anymore, it is already here, right now. Lack of funding has led to the closure of over 80 courthouses in the last 2 years and Legal Aid for divorcing couples has disappeared but for those in very specific circumstances. Finally, and most importantly, to an ever increasing degree the divorcing public seems no longer willing to pop into their local solicitor and accept the same old process they have always followed.
Today’s consumers are used to buying services that are largely tailored to their needs and they want to buy them from qualified professionals. The FMSB’s accreditation policy is being set up now, so that over the next 18 months as the giant shift in Government and public thinking continues to change the way people get divorced, there is a panel of highly qualified professional mediators waiting there to help them. Getting accredited now will mean not playing catch-up and chasing the trend.
Getting accredited now shows that we as mediators take our role in this new world seriously. It shows that we want our clients to know that we are not just doing this as a side-line or “another string to our bow”, but that we are dedicated professionals who can be trusted to provide a personalised service for their family’s needs. And that, in my opinion, is why mediators should get accredited now, and not “wait and see what happens”.