For some people the prospect of attending family dispute resolution (or mediation) is very daunting because they are worried about being in the same room as the other person. There can be many reasons for this.
It might be that there is a history of violence, which means they feel scared in the other person’s presence (even if they think the person is very unlikely to physically hurt them again). It may be that they are really struggling with the grief of the separation and don’t want the other person to see their sadness. Sometimes they are angry and worry that they won’t be able to control their anger in the other person’s presence. Or it might be that they didn’t have much voice in decision-making during the relationship and fear that they will be unable to speak freely around the other person.
Fortunately mediation can be conducted as a ‘shuttle mediation’ in which people stay in separate rooms (or locations) and don’t come into direct contact with each other.
Before holding a mediation I will meet with each person individually for a ‘pre-mediation’ appointment. In that meeting I will be learning (amongst other things) about how you treated each other during the relationship, how you communicate and interact with each other now and how you feel about the possibility of being in the same room for the mediation. You can let me know if you want a shuttle mediation – and I’ll also talk to you about that option if what I’m hearing makes me think it would be a good option. I might also make a call that shuttle mediation would be best because of things I have heard in the other person’s pre-mediation appointment.