As divorce rates rise, family mediation represents an alternative way of making settlements without involving an already overburdened judicial system. This book presents a discussion of the current North American trends in the burgeoning field of family mediation by featuring both a review of the literature and a model for family mediation practice. The practice model presented here, Therapeutic Family Mediation, stresses an ecological perspective, and considers the feminist critique of the mediation process. The authors also address mediation's role in the important issues of joint custody, ethnicity, and child protection. Future directions in family mediation are examined in the final part.
The history of family mediation in North America is characterized by opposing tendencies of exclusion and inclusion. Exclusion means that family mediation is less likely to accommodate the needs of some groups than others. Like all “talking therapies,” family mediation is implicitly modeled on middle-class, white, Anglo-Saxon client couples. In our experience, for example (we know of no national data on this matter), most mediators fit this description. Whether public or private, services are centralized (clients must travel to the agency's office), offered during business hours only, and with some exceptions (e.g., the state of Louisiana and the province of Quebec), usually delivered in English. Moreover, clients are referred to mediation through legal (their lawyer or the court) or service (their counselor) ...