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Psychology's Role in Family Mediation

Tuesday, March, 6, 2012

Having psychologists is nothing new to litigation and the general court system. They are often called in as expert witnesses. However, in family mediation, they serve a completely different purpose. If you enter such a mediation and see a psychologist among the financial professionals and lawyers, there is usually no need to worry about psychological profiling.


Pragmatic Purposes of Psychologists in Civil Mediations


Even the most “together” and agreeable mediations are likely to be somewhat messy. The fact that a disagreement became a dispute demanding mediation implies that it could be somewhat of an emotional powder keg. Accountants and stock brokers tend to be lost at sea in these situations—no amount of pie charts and graphs can fix hurt feelings. Lawyers can help some, but they do not always have the luxury to adequately focus on the emotional distress of their clients.


This is where mental health professionals fill the gap. Whether the issues involve feeling cut short in an inheritance or settlement, underlying interpersonal issues or even dealing with the suddenness of a massive award, psychologists and counselors have the specialized skills to tackle these issues. This can prevent a lot of adversity that often plagues family law.


Tying It All Together in Mediation Services

One of the distinct differences between mediation versus arbitration or litigation is that mediation seeks to resolve a dispute in a collectively agreeable way rather than pointing fingers and assigning blame. Without dealing with underlying issues and feelings of betrayal, reaching such terms is extremely difficult. Someone will all too often walk away with “the short end of the stick.”


Family mediation, whether probate, divorce or child custody, is probably one of the most emotionally volatile areas of law for clients. With the growing inclusion of the mental health profession in mediation, mediation itself will more easily reach its goal of collaborative decisions rather than “guilty/not guilty” verdicts that do nothing to patch up old wounds.