Making Conversations Easier

One of the great benefits of engaging in mediation is the “ignorance” of the mediators. When a couple comes in to begin the process of divorcing, neither myself nor my co-mediator know anything at all about the couple–apart from their names. This means that the two of them get to tell the two of us exactly what we need to know. That need is driven by the present time and place of the couple. Unlike a family member or a friend, we don’t have biases or loyalties. We know nothing before you walk in. We only learn what you’re willing to share based on your need.


It’s a clean slate ready for you to begin writing your new story, starting with a new chapter.

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If you’re thinking of beginning, call or email us:

Jenna: 978.760.0482


Rob: 978.479.2923





Why Hiring Professionals is Wise

When a couple comes to the end of their domestic partnership and are looking for ways to part amicably, it is sensible for them to do so with some guidance from professionals who know “how the system works” and “what hoops need to be jumped through.” The courts require that particular matters be resolved before a judge can come to a finding and grant a divorce or sign off on a parenting plan.

While there are intricacies and tedium in the process, doing it right the first time is advisable. One of the best ways to ensure that what you bring to court is adequate is to hire professionals who know what you need to have so that the judge can make the finding that the details outlined in you agreement are “fair and reasonable under the circumstances.”

At Holistic Mediation, we understand what you need to get through those hoops.

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Call 978.760.0482 (Jenna) or 978.479.2923 (Rob) to schedule a complementary initial consultation to see if working with Holistic Mediation works for you.

A Journey of 360,000 Miles begins with a Single 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.

Ways to Prepare to Mediate Your Divorce

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Oftentimes, my co-mediator and I are asked, “What do we need to do for the first meeting?” While there is nothing you must do in order to fully participate in that first meeting, you may want to do a few things to prepare.

While the following questions presume that you have children, you can consider them even if you are divorcing without minor children.

Here are some questions to ask yourself:

  1. In a perfect world, how will the children’s time be allotted between myself and my soon-to-be ex-spouse? Are these notions reasonable when taking into consideration work schedules, school schedules, activities, etc.?
  2. Do I want to stay in the marital house? If so, why? What are the benefits? What are the potential challenges? Is this “best” for the children?
  3. If I don’t stay in the house, where will I go? What are the advantages and disadvantages to a new residence? Are the children relocating with me?

Bear in mind that your initial answers to these will like change and/or take a more defined shape as the mediation progresses. Nevertheless, the themes and realities will be consistent throughout the process. The sooner you begin to grapple with these questions, the more streamlined, i.e., the less costly and less time consuming, your mediation can be.

New Year’s Resolutions

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 2017.


Jenna Brownson, Esq. can be reached at 978.760.0482

Rob Brownson, LMHC can be reached at 978.479.2923



We Presume Nothing

When people first come into our mediation room, it is for a free initial consultation. This is an opportunity for Rob and me to share our professional skills and ethical responsibilities within the mediation process and for the people seeking mediation services to have their questions answered.

At the time the initial consultation is scheduled–usually over the phone with Rob or me and with one of the parties to the matter–we do not ask any questions. All we need to have to set up at day and time is an affirmative statement that there is an interest in learning about and (possibly) pursuing mediation.

Why not get details?

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Because we’re better off with a blank page to begin on. TOGETHER.

Let’s say I get a call from a husband who tells me that he and his wife are looking to get divorced and they are considering mediation. That’s where I ask, “When can the two of you come in for a free initial consultation?”

Here’s where the husband provides me with a date and time or where the husband wants to “share a few important things.”

In order for the fair and unbiased process of mediation to be successful, I have to politely decline hearing about those “few important things.”

You might be thinking: “But why? Why not get a jump on the gathering of information?”

Well, if you were the wife, how would you feel knowing/suspecting that your soon-to-be ex-spouse had gone into detail with one of the mediators? Also, as Holistic Mediation employs the co-mediation model, Rob and I are equal participants. If I take information from the husband absent Rob, then Rob is at a “disadvantage” in being able to fully apply his skill set to the matter at hand.

When people come to us, we have no preconceived notions because we didn’t allow ourselves to know any “important things” before the initial consultation. As such, we presume nothing.



Putting Words to the Often Indescribable

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.


They Look Nice Enough . . .

When parties opt to litigate their divorce, that is, when parties use the adversarial court system, they will invariably be asking a judge to make certain decisions for them. Generally, those judicial decisions are borne of a failure of the parties to make their own decisions themselves. Litigation exhaustion and the incentive a party might have to get his/her “way” factor into why some would rather leave the choice up to a stranger in a long, black robe rather than trying to collaborate and compromise.

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But no matter how nice a judge may look, that person is a total stranger to the parties. That judge does not have the luxury of time–and I would argue, the interest–in getting to know a case so intimately that he/she come to the “best” decision. This is not to say that the result isn’t “fair;” it likely is. However, when parties hand over their autonomy in the process, they expose themselves to the greatest inherent flaw in the judicial system: not having all the information.

The people who do have all the information are the parties. And when those two people enter into mediation, they are the ones to decide, they are the ones with the autonomy, they are the ones with the ultimate authority to govern the result.

Mediation is the place where empowerment is not only found but encouraged and at Holistic Mediation we honor this attribute.


Why Eat Cookies?

Some people have concluded that the cookies available during the mediation sessions at Holistic Mediation are put out as incentive for the parties to keep coming back. While I know that I bake very good cookies–my personal favorite is molasses/clove–the offering of them is not a marketing ploy.

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We provide our clients cookies (something sweet) to offset the work being done in the room (sometimes bitter, sometimes sour). Most people can readily find comfort in something as simple as a homemade baked good. The way we see it, why not make our client as comfortable as possible as they undertake the difficult, though always rewarding, task of seeing their situation from many angles, compromising, collaborating, and finding a client-created solution.

So in addition to the two sets of skills our clients get to draw on (Jenna’s legal training and Rob’s relational expertise), when people come to Holistic Mediation, they also get cookies.