Finding Our Way Through Our Conflict

            How do I become a mediator?

            I am close to burnout.  How can I find a more satisfying way to work?

            I don’t want to become a mediator but I am responsible for helping people in conflict at work and I need help.

            I have tried to mediate, but I realize there is a lot more to learn.  What other training should I take?

            A friend told me about your model and/or your training, so I think I should come to a class but I don’t know why or what.

People call us with questions like this. Conflict is filled with difficult—even volatile—emotion, which often goes unacknowledged in the legal process or other systems in which being “businesslike” is considered the norm.  People who call about our programs want something different. We teach lawyers, mediators, psychotherapists and other professionals who work with conflict to see, acknowledge and tap the emotions in themselves and their clients to achieve a deeper understanding of the issues, and to find solutions that will genuinely satisfy the parties.

We believe that there is no such thing as “neutrality” in the conflict professional. We like and dislike clients, we are annoyed by them, and we feel the effects of being targets of their discomfort, hostility and grief. We teach those who work with conflict to turn the emotions they’ve always avoided into a source of empathy, connection and understanding that allows them to guide the parties through the same process, and help them identify and resolve the deepest issues that separate them. These are rarely the issues they initially bring into the discussion.

The Understanding based model we teach not only allows the parties to successfully find their own best solutions, it also relieves some of the greatest stresses conflict professionals face. We show them how to bring their full humanity into a conflict, and to emerge whole, having best served their clients.

As the Center for Understanding in Conflict has grown, we have examined how people can most effectively learn our model and use what makes sense to them in their work.  Initially we offered a basic 40-hour mediation training and then invited participants to advanced trainings.  Over time, we have realized that people come to our Center in different ways that work for where they are in their lives, how they learn, and what they need.  We have expanded what we are offering to create different gates to come through and different paths of learning.

You might be asking yourself which classes make sense for you?  If you want to start swimming in our waters, what is the best way to start?

Jumping Into the Deep End: Basic 5 day, 40-hour program – Working Creatively with Conflict

If you have the time, this intensive program is the best way to get a sense of our model of working with conflict.  Although focused primarily on mediation, the program offers an introduction to all aspects of our model, and is appropriate for anyone who works with conflict as part of their work.  Lawyers, therapists, mediators, human resource people, financial professions, collaborative professionals are the usual mix of people who come to this program and live together in a residential setting where they are immersed in our model of mediation.  There is also a mix of people with respect to experience in mediation ranging from very experienced to newcomers.  While we don’t believe that a five day program is sufficient for anyone to be fully trained as a mediator, many who complete this program feel ready to begin mediation practice and all who come find ways of integrating what they have learned into their professional and personal life.  People from all over the world come to these programs.

Getting Your Feet Wet:  Half day classes and webinars

Sometimes people want to get a taste of what we do before jumping into the deep end.  We offer half day in person classes and one hour webinars in which we teach an overview of our model (our upcoming afternoon class “I’m right, You’re Wrong: From Blame to Understanding” is an example) or attend a webinar on a particular aspect of our model or how it applies to a specific situation (e.g. our webinar “3 Mistakes Lawyers Make That Keep Them (and Their Clients) Stuck in Conflict”).  These programs are offered for anyone who is interested and double as introductions to the understanding model to give participants a sense of whether they want to participate in other courses that we offer or as refreshers for people who have taken other courses but want to touch base with others and are finding the theme particularly relevant to their lives.

Learning the Strokes: Conflict Challenges

We offer one to two day classes on specialized topics, ranging from exploring each stage of the process such as contracting or interests, specific tools such as looping, or aspects of conflict resolution such as the role of the law or working with attorneys in mediation.  We are also planning to offer trainings focused on the use of the model in particular professions, such as one planned for later this year for mental health professionals. In these courses, participants have opportunities to raise problems they are experiencing in their work that touch on the theme and see how others are working with similar problems.  Center teachers demonstrate how to use the understanding model to deal with those problems.

Understanding the Depth:  SCPI program – Self-Reflection for Conflict Professionals  Intensive

This ongoing program starts with a months-long series which includes two all day meetings and regular monthly meetings, in person for locals and virtual meetings for people who live too far to attend the monthly meetings.  The purpose of this program is to develop and enhance the ability of participants to access their inner lives as a resource when they are working with people in conflict.  The core of the program are a series of self-reflective practices to develop this skill using a variety of techniques including meditation, journaling, regular meetings with other participants and  is taught by a team of lawyers and meditation teachers.  After finishing the initial series, participants can attend our Advanced SCPI all day meetings which occur approximately quarterly, and are often following a particular theme (this year “Power and Love.”) The program applies to all conflict professionals, much like the basic mediation training, and is open to anyone interested in learning how to use their inner resources more effectively in their work.  It is probably better to take this course after taking the basic mediation training, but several people who are not interested in learning to mediate and have not taken our basic program but have found this course valuable.

Laps:  Support and Development

This course consists of regular monthly meetings of supervision with others in both mediation and collaborative practice, and is best suited for people who have active practices in mediation and/or collaborative and who have participated in our basic mediation training.

Around the World:  International Programs and Advanced Retreats

We offer a number of programs in Europe based on the understanding model ranging from one to five days in various locations in France, Italy, Germany, Austria, Spain and other European countries with similar programs that we offer in California and New York. For example, this September we are offering a SCPI program in Talloires, France for English speaking Europeans for four days focused on the theme of working within ourselves with fear and trust.  Our teachers are often engaged by other organizations to teach on topics relevant to the group.

Biennually we offer 5-7 day retreats in Mar de Jade, Mexico with a major focus on self-reflection and its application to our work.  This is an opportunity for participants from all over the world to come together and work intensively in a relaxed setting to explore intra personal issues.  The course is taught by Norman Fischer and Gary Friedman and will be next offered in February of 2018.  Participants need to have completed at least one Center program. It is recommended that they complete either a SCPI intensive or the basic mediation training to participate.