This article addresses the training of mediators participating in a randomized controlled trial (“RCT”) that examined the outcomes of family law cases with children in which parents reported high or concerning levels of intimate partner violence (“cases reporting high IPV”).
The RCT studied two specialized forms of mediation designed to protect the safety of IPV survivors (shuttle or videoconferencing) compared to each other and to traditional litigation. In implementing the RCT, the researchers used a three-part program to train the participating mediators with (1) a manual, (2) in-person training and (3) ongoing peer consultation. Although this three-part training regimen is used in RCT research scientifically testing interventions, to the researchers’ knowledge, this was the first such training program in the mediation context. Results supported a finding that the combined use of a manual, training, and peer consultation is helpful for mediators who lack prior training in mediating cases reporting high IPV by providing protocols to conduct mediation in these cases and helping ensure participant safety and satisfaction. The researchers were fortunate to collaborate with a mediation program that understood and appreciated the need for, and the importance of, this three-part training program to test the two models of mediation. The researchers hope other mediation programs will consider the use of these tools to better train mediators, thus benefitting the parties involved in mediation, particularly those in cases reporting high IPV. (publisher abstract modified)