When you think of mental health therapists, you probably don’t equate them with a lawyer. But you’d be surprised how much these two professions have in common! Both therapists and lawyers offer counsel to others in an effort to help them resolve conflicts. While a therapist often helps clients solve their own internal conflicts, sometimes the conflicts that need resolving are those they have with others: friends, children, and spouses. This is called Therapeutic Mediation.
What is Therapeutic Mediation?
Therapeutic mediation is a process with two intended outcomes:
- Relief from emotional stress
- An agreement or plan of action that is acceptable by two individual parties.
You could say that therapeutic mediation is a tool used by mental health professionals to bring about emotional healing and an agreed-upon plan of action.
What does it look like in action?
Let’s say you have a husband and wife who find themselves in an entirely toxic relationship. The husband is currently unemployed and the wife works but has little savings. Neither has the funds for a traditional drawn-out divorce. But the wife’s health plan does allow for weekly therapy sessions for her and her spouse or partner.
A therapist would step in and in each session focus on those two goals: therapeutic healing of emotions and conflict resolution. To revisit the emotional distress of both individuals, time would be spent telling their truths and being heard and apologies would be made. Upon a true reconciliation, both parties would feel an emotional weight lifted.
Once this emotional healing has occurred for both individuals, the focus of each session can shift to the conflict resolution process where a plan for forwarding action is developed and accepted by both parties. In this instance, a therapist may work with the husband and wife and facilitate open discussion on important things such as visitation rights and financial obligations.
The Bottom Line
Therapeutic mediation can be very beneficial in a variety of legal and emotional circumstances. For the process to be a success, though, both parties need to be emotionally mature and responsible. They must be willing to acknowledge their own errors and not rely on blaming others. And finally, they must be willing to partake in a process that relies heavily on cooperative problem-solving. If both parties can follow these guidelines, they have an excellent chance of resolving issues in therapy instead of court.