I serve people in different ways. Because of my own experience with the family court system, I felt compelled to help others navigate their way though it and also, to help them stay out of it whenever possible.
I started out thinking that the best way to do that was t return to school for a Master’s or PhD and become a licensed therapist, but in the last year of my bachelors degree, some divine intervention introduced me to mediation. I fell in love with mediation. It offered a way for people to stay out of court and it allows people to determine their own course with any conflict they are experiencing. Nothing is imposed upon them. If mediation is successful, they can avoid having a judge make a decision as to what is best for them and go forward with an agreement that they enter into with the other party. Mediation is not about divorce. You can attend mediation for any conflict in your life. Mediators do not make decisions for you or tell you what to do. They are only there to help you have a respectful conversation that helps you resolve a dispute.
Many people act as mediators. Attorneys, psychologists, retired judges, teachers, and people with no experience in law work as mediators. They all go through the same training and have to meet the same requirements to be listed on the ADR roster, but mediation is not about the law. It is about a dispute. Some people think they need an attorney mediator, to tell them the law or a psychologist mediator, to provide therapy, but the truth is, mediators are just that, mediators. When acting as a mediator, they cannot act in any other role at the same time. They are not to give you their advice, legal or otherwise, or their opinions. They are simply there to help two or more parties sort through areas of conflict and try to come to a resolution.
As much as I love mediation, I quickly realized that I wanted to have an avenue to help those who cannot get the other party to the table or are struggling with an area of life and cannot seem to get to where they want to be. For those people, I offer life coaching. I enjoy working one on one with people to gain confidence and self awareness. It is wonderful to see people who feel lost, blossom, and find happiness again.
I am also now an instructor for the High Conflict Diversion Program. I have worked, as a coach, with many high conflict parents, and this offers a structured program that one cannot find anywhere else in Minnesota. This work is important to me because of my experience with the family court system and because I know how stressful it is to go through that.
How do I manage these different roles?
Each role I perform has a different mindset, different rules, and different obligations to my clients. I can function as a coach to someone who has been through the high conflict diversion program, but I cannot and would not ever mediate a case where I have been a coach, or for someone who has been in the high conflict diversion program. That would be unethical. As a mediator, I do not need to know anything about the parties nor do I want to know anything about them. The issue is not my issue and I have no stake in the outcome. The agreement is that of the parties. I am not there to solve the problem or make any judgments about the agreement. As long as they are satisfied with it, that is the only thing that matters.
As a coach and an instructor, I am there to help my clients. I sometimes get to know very intimate details about a person and their life. It is a different role where I am working directly for that person. I make it very clear to people that if I am going to coach them, I cannot later be their mediator, parenting time expediter or parenting consultant. When they have a need for any of those roles, or if they need the services of a lawyer or therapist, they are directed to find those professionals to meet those needs. As a coach or instructor, my mediator hat is not only off, but it is in a box in the closet. I also know what my role is and what it is not. As a coach, I am not a therapist or an attorney. I know the difference and I make sure my clients know the difference.
Many mediators perform different roles in their business life. A coach is no different from an attorney who represents an individual in court. The attorney would not represent that client in court and act as a mediator for that person and neither will a coach. The good news is that there are many great mediators out there to choose from so if you are a coaching client, you do not have to worry that you cannot mediate down the road. You can, but not with me in that role.
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