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Commentary on Family Mediation Standards

NCJ Number
Mediation Quarterly Issue: 13 Dated: (Fall 1986) Pages: 97-102
J Edelman
Date Published
7 pages
Recent attempts by the American Bar Association to draft standards for family mediators are premature and could limit the achievement of qualities in mediation than can only be developed under the freedom to experiment without confining standards.
Assumptions underlying efforts to promulgate standards for family mediation are that mediation is sufficiently developed to be defined, mediators need professional status, and the public must be protected from incompetent mediators. The standards will not achieve these ends because the mediation field is not sufficiently developed to be defined in standards, drafters of the standards do not represent the broad field of family mediators, and the proposed standards focus on a narrow spectrum of mediation activities. A more appropriate and timely approach for structuring the mediation field would involve small groups or associations of mediators setting qualifications and guidelines for their own membership. Clients would then select mediators based on the policies and standards of the various mediator associations. The establishment of national mediation standards would thwart the grassroots experimental development of mediation, which development is essential at this stage of mediation's evolution.