Tag-Team Mediation

Years ago when I first decided to become a mediator, I noticed that there were two types of professionals who attended mediation trainings: lawyers and mental health counselors. The ratio was a fairly consistent 3 to 1, respectively. While it seemed as though most of the lawyers in the room had backgrounds in social justice and family law, none of us was able to expertly hone in on the relational complexities that always come up in mediations.

Uninterested in getting an advanced degree in counseling in order to bring both sets of skills to my clients, I, instead found someone who already was a mental health professional to join me. I didn’t need to look far to find a willing and interested partner. In fact, I needed only to look across the dinner table at my spouse.

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(No that’s not our real dinner table.)

Rob Brownson, a licensed mental health counselor with two decades of experience working with individuals and couples in crisis, readily agreed to complete the same rigorous training as I had and for the two of us to begin co-mediating complex, family-related matters.

Rob and I both believe that the co-mediation model is special as it brings two distinct sets of professional skills into the room alongside two distinct sets of life experiences. Our clients have the added benefit of knowing that two critical thinkers are working for them to support them as they resolve their conflicts while ensuring a comprehensive and holistic approach to the collaborative process.

To book an initial, complementary consultation, call Jenna at 978.760.0482 or Rob at 978.479.2923

 

 

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Taking That First Step

Many people who find themselves facing a choice between staying in a failed marriage and moving toward divorce feel paralyzed by taking that first step. That “first step” often takes the form of admitting the failure to their spouse after having lived with the internal feeling for some amount of time. Having that first discussion–or debate–over the conclusions drawn about the decline of the marriage can take years. The pressure people feel to stay together “for better or for worse” can lead otherwise rational and thoughtful people to remain in a relationship that no longer serves either participant.

It has been said that “a journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.” The quote is attributed to Lao Tzu who actually said something about a “1,000 li journey.” A li is an ancient Chinese measurement equivalent to 360 miles. Through sloppy translation, we got “a journey of 1,000 miles,” even though a fair translation would be “a journey of 360,000 miles begins with a single step.” Not quite as catchy, and quite a bit longer a trip.

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While this quote was originally meant to convey the notion that great things start from humble beginnings, we at Holistic Mediation know that this axiom can also be applied to taking that first step toward a new chapter in one’s life. Although there is humility in the admission of failure, there is also the start of an unknown, albeit potentially great thing.

If you think that you’d like to move in a new direction, please call Jenna Brownson, Esq. at 978.760.0482 or Rob Brownson, LMHC at 978.479.2923.

New Year. New You?

If you’re like most people, January 1st brings with it an obligation to both reflect on the last year and to make plans for the next.

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Sometimes the reflecting feels like a reward after a year’s worth of hard work; sometimes the reflecting results in an assessment of failure from having taken no action or the wrong action.  In looking forward to the new year, some outline a series of small, but attainable goals, while others make grand and sweeping statements about how their lives will be fundamentally and forever transformed.

If your reflections and planning have brought you to the point of believing that you could benefit from the professional help of trained mediators (one who is by education and experience a lawyer and the other a mental health counselor), please consider reaching out to Holistic Mediation.

We will gladly meet you for an initial, complimentary consultation to explore potential avenues for collaboration and perhaps the most meaningful resolution you haven’t yet made for 2019.

 

Jenna Brownson, Esq. can be reached at 978.760.0482

Rob Brownson, LMHC can be reached at 978.479.2923

 

 

We Trust You Both Know What is Best

Rob and I have found that for many couples, they put off coming into mediation because they are reluctant to admit publicly that their marriage is not longer good. We have heard “good” to to be further detailed with these descriptors: viable, worthwhile, rewarding, healthy, etc.

Coming to a point of being able to delineate what “exactly” brings a couple to mediation is unnecessary. In the same way that no one puts demands on you to specify why you wanted to get married, your mediators have no expectation that you describe that which has led to your choice to divorce.

Of course, there are times when the couple wants to discuss those details. As each mediation is “of the couple,” those who want to open a discussion around the why behind their choice to separate are free to do so. But rest assured, your mediators do not need to be convinced of the merits of the choice you have made to enter into mediation. As self-actualized people making a significant life change, we trust that by the time you arrive to us, you have (by and large) come to terms with the choice and now are seeking out professional assistance on formalizing your decision . . . unless you change your minds and thereby your choice, because that can happen, too.

We trust you.

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The Nature of Truth

When people come to mediation, especially in the cases of divorce, I always keep in mind that both of them are telling “the truth.”

So why the quotation marks?

Well, my co-mediator and I approach working with our clients with the baseline belief that we are hearing “the truth,” insofar as attaining “the truth” is possible in the arena of personal and intimate relationships. So while we believe what we hear, we know that the “truths” of our clients come through the filters of their individual perceptions and biases. This is important in many ways.

First, everyone wants to be heard.

Second, everyone wants to be believed.

And third, everyone deserves respect.

Now this doesn’t mandate that the other person agree with those “truths,” nor does it require that we as mediators facilitate a conversation based on a particular “set of facts.” In fact, we regularly find ourselves validating both “truths” and reminding our clients that perceptions, being so individualized, will differ.

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In this famous drawing, two images are visible.

Which do you see?

A young woman wearing a choker and looking over her right shoulder or an older woman, with a large nose, in profile with her hair covered with a scarf?

We have shown this drawing to our clients as a reminder that our perceptions are our own, and it’s possible to see the same thing in two totally different ways.

That sort of broad permission to be oneself is just one of the aspects that Holistic Mediation brings to the mediation setting. We always endeavor to approach each client as a whole person. If you are considering mediation as a vehicle to resolve a controversy or to reframe your status in life, call us to schedule a free half hour consultation.

 

 

 

 

The Most Awful/Wonderful Time of the Year

There is something truly bittersweet about coming into the holiday season knowing that there are people contemplating divorce as they struggle to hold it together for their children.

While we understand there is no “good” time to divorce, we have been told by scores of clients that they waited until “after the holidays” to begin mediating their divorce.

The process of redefining one’s self, i.e., going from “spouse” to “ex,” can be bitter. Conversely, there is the balancing force of “sweet” illustrated in the respect that parents exercise in making this memorable time of year not hooked into a memory of “that’s when I heard my parents were getting divorced.”

Every year at this time, Holistic Mediation goes into a period of hibernation. We know why and we understand the motivations behind the lull.

Please know that when the new year is well underway, we will be here to help you find peace and resolution through the facilitation of meaningful and productive conversations.

So, until then . . . Happy (Bittersweet) Holidays.

 

 

 

 

A Multi-Linguistic Process

Over the years and through our work with many, many clients, we have come to understand that each couple (or family, or group) has its own language.

By the time Holistic Mediation has been hired to provide a structured environment for the resolutions of conflicts and the development of future goals, our clients have already shared a long history together. With that history, there comes patterns of language and behavior that are unique to those people.

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Just the other day, we met with some new clients who are considering moving forward with their divorce. Their history is long. In recognition of their decades together, we asked them to tell us about their “relationship’s language.”

Most of us never analyze the ways we speak to our intimate partners. Our language and techniques we employ have simply evolved over the course of entwined years. Like the nose on your face, you don’t think much about it, so much so that if asked to describe it–whether “it” is your nose or the ways in which you communicate with your long-term domestic partner–people sometimes need to put critical thought to the task.

Transformational mediation challenges the people look critically at their self-created conflict to devise a self-created solution. This is hard work as it requires a level of objectivity to something so very intimate and vulnerable and, by rights, personally subjective.

At Holistic Mediation, we have been included in the languages of scores of couples (and families and groups) and have an appreciation for this unique aspect of finding the “right” words for our clients who seek our services. This is just one way we endeavor to provide thoughtful and client-specific attention to those with whom we work.

If you are in need of personal and meaningful professional services to resolve your conflicts, please call us. We speak all sorts of languages, not the least of which is yours.

Jenna Brownson, Esq. at 978.760.0482 or Rob Brownson, LMHC at 978.479.2923

 

Taking a Break

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One of the great perks of working through a conflict through mediation is the ability to take a break.

When the subject matter gets tough and the emotions run high, mediation allows for an intermission. Quite literally, we will in the middle (“inter”) of the process (“mission” = resolving the conflict) take a step away. Sometimes it is a five minute break during a session; other times it’s a few weeks away from the mediation room.

Unlike litigating a conflict, where there are court calendars to which the parties are beholden, mediation works on the schedule of the clients.

It is just one more way that mediation fits the client, not the mediators’ calendar.

If you have the goal of resolving your conflict, but don’t want to rush to a remedy, call us. We’re in no rush either.

Jenna 978.760.0482 or Rob 978.479.2923

Making Sausage

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That saying is used to depict an arduous process that is hard to watch. Oftentimes, we hear it said with respect to legislators trying to draft new laws.

It can also apply to mediation.

We have discovered that by the time most people are sitting with us in a mediation session, they are already very, very tired and supremely disheartened at what they have to accomplish to get from “Unhappy/Conflict-ridden Point A” to “Peaceful/Conflict-mitigated Point B.” You’ll notice that I did not refer to Point B as “conflict-free.” Whenever there is a disruption that results in the seeking out mediation services, we think it’s fair to conclude that the conflict will remain a “quiet reminder” for why the parties are with us.

This continued presence of “quiet conflict” has great power, as we encourage parties to allow space for it and to put it into its proper place in their lives. Once the conflict is so positioned, the parties have a chance to reframe their perspective of the other person.

This is when mediation becomes a transformative force. This is when people can see the other person as a “different sort of partner” in their likely-to-be-entangled futures.

Here’s an example:

Pat was a lousy spouse for a myriad of reasons. Chris was a lousy spouse for a whole host of reasons. Pat and Chris share children. Pat and Chris agree that continuing the marriage is a poor choice. Pat and Chris agree that their children’s needs and stability are paramount. Pat and Chris can unite under the mantle of the love of their children to work toward “seeing” each other–not as fomerly lousy spouses–but rather as the only other parent to the children.

“Seeing” is the first step to transforming not only Pat’s and Chris’s lives but also the key to doing well by their children.

If you are interested in trying to “see” your life and your future differently, contact us.

Our initial 1/2 hour consultation is complementary. And we promise not to make sausage during it.