Tuesday 25th June 2024
Durbar Marg, Kathmandu

The magic of mediation is the chance for parties to come together in a neutral space to discuss their issues and how those issues impact each other, and explore options towards agreement. However, this doesn’t always work out – there are a number of reasons why it might be unhelpful for the parties to sit in the same room. For example, there may be a pronounced power imbalance or a history of emotional abuse or violence in the relationship and being face to face could be unsafe for one or more of the participants.

In these cases, shuttle mediation is a valuable tool for moving the mediation forwards. In shuttle mediation, the mediator meets with each party separately to hear their views and then ‘shuttles’ back and forth between the two rooms (or virtual meetings in the case of online or telephone mediations) to help the parties find common ground.

At Family Circle Mediation, we are able to offer virtual shuttle mediation and this is often the best option for high conflict or abuse situations. This means that the couple will never meet face to face, but are able to speak freely and openly with their mediators without fear of being triggered by each other’s comments or presence.

During shuttle mediation, the mediator will listen to each side’s point of view and then will make proposals and counter-proposals to narrow the differences between the parties and find compromises that satisfy both sides core interests. The mediator will also ask the parties for ideas of settlement options and may volunteer their own suggestions if they wish.

There are a number of pros and cons to shuttle mediation. One of the key disadvantages is that it can be difficult to communicate the full impact of a situation if all information is conveyed through the mediator – this can result in some things being lost in translation. Additionally, it can take longer than a face to face mediation session as the mediator must go back and forth between each room.

The final issue with shuttle mediation is that it can be challenging to build trust and a sense of rapport if the parties never actually meet face to face. This is especially a concern in high-risk cases, where there is a potential for emotional trauma for some participants. A recent study found that although FDR mediation in the same room was an effective approach for some high-complexity cases involving a history of domestic violence, it was not suitable for all clients as this environment can be manipulated by perpetrators.

In addition, a joint session provides an opportunity for the parties to hear directly from each other about their experience of the conflict, how it impacts them and what they hope for the future. This can be powerful and can change the dynamic of a mediation dramatically. While this can still be done in shuttle mediation sessions, it isn’t as straightforward to achieve and may require more time devoted to exploring this aspect of the mediation. shuttle mediation pros and cons

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