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Causes of the Mediation Crisis

Causes of the Mediation Crisis

What other factors are contributing to the crisis in the mediation field?



Full Transcript

We haven’t done enough research into what really works and we haven’t taken new development of deeper level of conceptual clarity and frameworks. We haven’t pushed ourselves as reflective practitioners. I do think we’ve made some progress on that. Contrary to our prior beliefs, I think that now we’re saying, ‘A master’s degree increasingly is a pretty essential credential in this area, a deeper level of training.’


A sign of the crisis and perhaps more than the crisis itself is that we’re not really used in a major way on major conflicts. One of the things that generated my interest in this book was the response to 9/11. What happened after 9/11 is the media was full of consulting and bringing every single kind of person that you can think of. But not conflict specialists, not mediators. Now, I’m not saying we had the answer. In fact, I don’t think we did. But I think we should have been part of the conversation and it showed that we weren’t taken seriously that way.


Another part of the crisis is the way in which the field has been increasingly dominated by the legal profession. I have no problem with the legal profession playing a very important role in what we do. They have a big contribution to make. But a multi-disciplinary foundation is one of our strengths. Increasingly, family mediation, certainly commercial mediation, work-place mediation, more and more is being dominated by the legal profession. This unfortunately has meant more and more of a rights based approach instead of a settlement-conference-oriented approach to how we deal with conflict, and I don’t think that’s helpful.

About the mediator

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Bernie Mayer, Ph.D. is Professor of Dispute Resolution at The Werner Institute, Creighton University. He is without doubt a leader in the field of conflict resolution. Considered by many in the field of conflict resolution as an icon, Bernie has over a quarter century of experience in the field and was a founding partner at CDR Associates, the internationally recognized mediation and conflict resolution organization. Bernie originally trained as ... View Mediator