Mediation is coming of age, that is the theme of the 2017 College of Mediators National Conference. But what does this mean exactly? In this four-part series I will describe how mediators themselves are striving to make mediation a professional service that not only serves our clients well, but all of our professional colleagues as well. In part 1 of this blog, I will discuss the manner in which the UK Government has worked to ensure mediation is coming of age by standardising the level of training and service provision across the profession. Namely, the FMCA Accreditation process.
There is an ever increasing trend across most service industries these days to protect the buying public and stop unlicensed, unregulated companies/workers from providing second rate, shoddy services. This is something that properly trained, conscientious professionals applaud. It is disheartening when well trained professionals hear stories of some cowboy operator out there ripping people off and giving a bad name to an entire professional body.
Mediation is no different in this. Since mediation began here in the UK in the late 1970s, there have been a number of self-regulating bodies working to ensure that mediators offer a high standard of service from well trained professionals. In 2015 things took a major (and very much welcome) step forward in this however, for family mediators in particular. In a move designed to unify all of the various codes of practice and accreditation schemes from the various professional bodies and clearly demonstrate that mediation is coming of age, the Family Mediation Council (FMC) set up a separate body called the Family Mediation Standards Board (FMSB). The FMSB overhauled the entire accreditation process for all of the different accreditation schemes and created a very comprehensive, and extremely stringent Accreditation process that all family mediators MUST adhere to.
In taking these steps (which are still ongoing), the FMSB will ultimately be able to ensure the buying public that should they engage any professional who calling themselves a Family Mediator and displaying the Family Mediation Council Accreditation mark is offering a service from a position of very high training standards. This author sees these moves as a very welcome step in the evolution of this profession, and truly as a sign of mediation coming of age. I want a possible user of mediation to be able to call any phone number on the list of FMC accredited mediators (and not just New Landscape Mediation) and know that apart from certain intangibles such as the individual personality of the mediator they may speak with, that they know they are going to receive the same high level of service, from the same level of well trained professional that they would if they dialled a different number on the list (ours for instance).
Mediation is coming of age – there is no question about it. Properly regulated, well trained professionals delivering a consistently high standard of service across the country is but one of the factors that points to this. In the next blog in this series, I will discuss the manner in which mediation services can improve the perception of the public to assist this coming of age even further.