The National Mediation Conference continues to offer us opportunities to share and learn. The pace has been remarkable and the overarching experience has been of inclusion and learning from each other.
The profoundly challenging moments of reflection have also been interspersed with lighter moments. Dinner at the winery was a relaxing event enlivened by the unexpected and, at times hilarious, poetry slam. I had not expected to be a participant but the audience was generous about my ‘Ode to Short People’.
Today was a particularly important day for me.
Attending the conference with my husband and two of my children who are mediators has been a gift. I never anticipated a family of mediators and it never occurred to me that one day we could all have a learning experience as colleagues.
This morning I had the joy of being in the audience as my daughter Emma-May Litchfield presented on her current research – ‘Should emotions be considered in the design and delivery of mediation training’ – under the watchful eye of her Masters’ supervisor Dr Kathy Douglas.
We are all tired by day three so we were enlivened when Emma-May engaged the room – polling our experiences as mediators, trainers of accrediting programs and as parties is mediation processes.
She challenged us to identify our own perception of whether emotion enters the room as part of the mediation process.
A starting point of her research was the requirement contained in the NMAS standards, requiring that those seeking accreditation under the standards demonstrate an ‘ability to manage high emotion’.
The Research Process
We were introduced to Emma-May’s qualitative process of interviews with 12 accredited mediators who were also trainers in accrediting programs.
Her semi-structured approach provided consistency whilst also allowing the opportunity to explore unexpected dimensions as they arose.
This led us to an overarching question she pursued as part of her work – Is the skill of dealing with emotions part of the design of accreditation training programs?
A particularly interesting outcome of the research was that the factor that determined whether training in emotions were included in the training depended on whether the trainers thought that it was important. I found this remarkable.
We were given an explanation of what might this mean via the hierarchy developed as part of Krathwohl’s Affective Domain of Objectives.
Exploring the values hierarchy Emma-May used the great analogy of the path to adoption of a plastic bag free life to demonstrate the development of values – from the most basic acknowledgement of a value to the top of the hierarchy where there is active living of values.
It’s a great sensation when your children become your teachers. I am really enjoying the learning emerging from this research.