We know that mediation is not therapy, although the two have aspects in common. In the following lines we will see exactly what they are the similarities and differences between group psychotherapy and mediation, And how these two disciplines help us deal with everyday problems.
The similarities between mediation and psychotherapy
To better understand the aspects that differentiate the two disciplines, it becomes necessary to consider their common aspects. Thus, taking as a reference the treatment of family conflicts, there would be two intervention plans: family therapy and family mediation. In each of them, the role of the professional (psychotherapist and mediator) is to facilitate communication. Each of these contexts develops its particular intervention process.
At first glance, both when we intervene in family therapy and when we intervene in family mediation, we work with all or some of the members of the family group, with whom a priori it seems to share the same objective: promote the well-being of its members. Each of these interventions is carried out within a framework of confidentiality and uses a set of techniques and tools to achieve its objectives.
By adjusting the gaze a little more, the therapeutic approach (family therapy or psychotherapy) addresses two fundamental issues: treatment of emotional disorders. It works with a primary natural group, the family, and in this area of intervention, the family is seen as an “all-system”. According to this, their goal would be to restore health and create a new way of conceptualizing the relationship with the environment.
For its part, the mediation approach addresses the voluntary conflict management procedure, In which the parties request the intervention of a mediator, who must be professional, impartial, objective and neutral. Works with groups of people who do not have the capacity to make free decisions about how to relate to the rest of the group and intervenes with all or some family members, depending on the type of conflict.
What aspects make the difference between therapy and mediation? Let’s see.
1. Different objectives
The specific goal of therapy is to improve health, promote psychological well-being and help improve relationships. Mediation seeks to improve communication, Promote the resolution of disputes generating solutions to the same, and reach an agreement between the parties in conflict. And in turn, without being considered among its objectives, mediation has a “therapeutic effect”, as long as emotional expression and management are facilitated.
In the mediation process, the mediator intervenes by managing emotions, so that they do not interfere with communication, thus encouraging the search for alternatives and solutions that can lead to an agreement agreed by the parties to the conflict. From the moment of the mediation process we encourage emotional relief, We provide a “therapeutic effect” on people. But that is not the ultimate goal of this type of intervention.
On the other hand, mediation is a structured process, a priori focused on a task: find the solution to a number of issues in dispute, reach an agreement in the form of a written document. This document can reach a “legal” or “quasi-legal” level, by resolving and agreeing legal and emotional agreements.
In mediation, we work with people, with their relationship, with their problem. This leads to consider an open and fluid intervention structure, in which flexibility is the main axis of the process, thus facilitating the work of emotions and feelings, their breakdown, and identification, will allow the definition of the problem and a better understanding. appropriate psychological conflict.
2. The information you work with
Another aspect that differentiates the two interventions is the amount of information to be collected. In therapy, it is essential to collect information from past and current data on the subject and / or the relationship (clinical or family history). In mediation, only information relating to the conflict is collected. Excessive information is considered likely to affect impartiality and objectivity of the mediation professional.
3. The importance of impartiality
The role of the psychologist-mediator is based on the implementation of his know-how, achieve a balance between the conflicting parties, And for this, it is decisive that they perceive him as objective, neutral and impartial, leading the mediation process, facilitating communication between them and favoring communication channels.
The role of the psychologist-therapist is based on behavioral analysis, proposing guidelines and alternatives, seeking to restore psychological health and well-being. You usually don’t have to take so much care not to appear biased in favor of one of the “sides”.
Family mediation is an opportunity to deal with conflicts in and in the family, in which the parties voluntarily exercise the search for solutions to their conflict, resolving it through dialogue and communication; and take responsibility for resolving their differences by agreeing to an agreement they agree to abide by.
The task of mediation facilitates a helping relationship that encourages the expression of emotions and feelings. In addition, it helps clarify the needs of conflicting parties, helping them distance themselves from the problem and focusing them on the solution. Mediation gives them the opportunity to experience and foster the healthy elements of the relationship.
The figure of the psychologist-mediator, is configured with a training that allows him to act in both areas, Marking in each case the need to intervene in one context or another depending on the necessity of the case.
Thus, he will manage the orientation towards therapy taking into account the interests of the parties or the goals they are trying to achieve in the process. It will focus on the “rules of the game” to be followed in the intervention by refraining from inducing any result not envisaged in the feeling or the will of the parties.