21st May, 2020

What is shuttle mediation?

Two doors indicating adjacent but separate rooms with a green spiky grass plant in a white pot on a polished floor outside the doors and text displaying 'What is shuttle mediation?'

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.

Amongst mediators and family dispute resolution practitioners there are often debates about whether ‘same room’ or shuttle mediation is better. Personally I think it depends – on the issues to be discussed, and on the circumstances of the people. I’ll bring that perspective to your mediation, if you choose me as your mediator, so that you can have a safe and productive conversation, whether that is through me, or directly with each other. If you’d like to arrange a mediation, just get in touch.