What is Integrative Mediation?
Integrative Mediation (IM) is a progressive approach to conflict resolution that addresses all aspects of a dispute—legal, financial, psychological, and emotional—maximizing the odds of a more efficient, cost-effective process and the achievement of a deeper, more comprehensive resolution. Our approach typically pairs a lawyer-mediator and a mental health professional (MHP)-mediator who jointly attend to all the needs of the parties in helping them to reach a mutually satisfactory and holistic resolution to their dispute. Other professionals, such as financial experts or child specialists, can be brought into the mediation on an as-needed basis.
How does IM differ from Traditional Mediation and Other Forms of Dispute Resolution?
Unlike the single mediator model, our approach pairs two mediators — one a lawyer, the other a mental health professional — both of whom attend to the emotional, psychological, legal, and financial aspects of a case. Integrative Mediation recognizes the synergistic value of the therapist-mediator and the lawyer-mediator working together co-equally through every phase of the case, addressing all levels of the dispute.
What distinguishes Integrative Mediation from other forms of conflict resolution is its recognition of the central role emotions play in human conflicts, and its holistic approach to disentangling emotional and psychological issues from the legal and financial aspects of a case. Most disputes are a tangled mess of hurt feelings, unconscious motivations, legal positions, and financial concerns. The failure to sort out and address these various components is the chief cause of difficulty and impasse in attempts at resolution. IM takes the position that all legal disputes are human problems as well as legal ones, and recognizes that the best way to resolve such disputes is to disentangle their psychological and emotional as well as their legal and financial facets, and to address each on its own terms.
Why Choose Integrative Mediation?
- You want your agreement to be comprehensive and enduring
- You want to resolve your dispute respectfully
- You recognize that emotional issues are inseparable from legal and financial issues
- Where the parties are interested in more than simply a termination of the dispute, or where more than just money is at stake.
- Where the parties recognize that strong feelings are involved, where mental illness is present, or where the parties want to use the conflict as an opportunity for deepening their understanding or maintaining and improving future relationships.
Advantages of Integrative Mediation
Integrative Mediation has the following advantages over other modalities:
- By disentangling the emotional from the legal issues, the parties are usually able to reach an overall resolution in a much more efficient, and therefore more cost-effective, manner than competing approaches.
- Integrative Mediation encourages a respectful, collaborative, transparent, and mutually-supportive approach to dispute resolution.
- With both legal and emotional arenas addressed, the parties can make more fully informed decisions.
- With both legal and emotional dimensions addressed, the parties tend to have more buy-in, resulting in more comprehensive and more durable agreements.
- Parties often report feeling more positive about each other, able to communicate better, better able to handle their conflicts going forward.
- In divorce, probate, elder, and other cases, Integrative Mediation can lay the seeds of emotional closure and forgiveness, and enhance the establishment of new, more respectful, more functional relationships going forward.
- Parties can participate in Integrative Mediation by themselves, or with their attorneys present.
The Integrative Team Approach
Integrative Mediation Bay Area uses an integrative team model, which means that even though each professional has his or her own area of expertise, each is familiar with the domain of the other, and all are trained to work together in a seamless, integrated way. By making sure the professionals are on the same page, this approach maximizes team efficiency and harmony, and facilitates a smooth, efficient, and cost-effective mediation. Each professional is a neutral, meaning they do not represent or work for one party exclusively, but rather the professionals support all the parties by creating a safe space for them to be heard, to negotiate, and find solutions.
The attorney-mediator provides legal information, ensures that all necessary legal issues are addressed, describes possible outcomes if the parties were in court, and keeps the process focused and on-track.
The mental health professional-mediator facilitates communication between the parties, provides emotional support, furnishes useful psychological information (e.g., research regarding child development or the effects of divorce on children), and helps the parties get to the heart of the dispute by engaging the emotional as well as the legal and financial issues and helping the parties to resolve them.
Financial professionals are available to participate in the mediation, organizing the parties’ financial information and preparing relevant reports, explaining different financial options, providing cash-flow analyses and projections, and simplifying complex financial scenarios.
Where difficult questions arise regarding children in divorce or custody disputes , a child specialist is available to assist the mediation, by providing relevant developmental information, and by interviewing the children, their teachers and/or their therapists and bringing their observations to the table.
“What a long journey our divorce has been. Without the the two of you steering our wayward lost ship, we would have sunk. Your noticing when we needed to clear out cobwebs and work through old patterns made all the difference in the success of our separation. I appreciate your endless patience and wisdom at every possible turn. I was able to learn a lot about life, myself, and all the ways I need to adapt how I live to make sure I have a more secure and thus a less stressful life moving forward. I will always hold my time at the table with you with reverence and fondness. And that is something most people could never say about getting a divorce.”
–former IM client Jennifer M.