In light of Coronavirus, it has not been safe for mediators to work face to face with their mediation clients. Sadly this has turned a business with a unique selling point of face to face on its head. I, like many others have had to adapt life as we know it as a result of this global pandemic. I am now juggling working running my business remotely whilst caring full time for my son. What is not new to me is the use of technology. Online video mediation has been around and working way before Coronavirus.
I am confident in the use of technology to be able to help you in mediation. You may be feeling anxious about whether online video mediation or remote mediation as it is also referred to, could work for you so this guide will hopefully answer any questions you have.
Family mediation is generally most likely to be effective when people speak face to face and in person. However, I recognise that there are occasions when people cannot and decide not to come together in the same place to mediate, particularly so in light of Coronavirus. In some carefully considered circumstances, it may be necessary or appropriate to conduct your mediation through an online video method. Mediation remains at all times voluntary, including the option of online video mediation. If face to face mediation is not possible and I consider that it may be appropriate to your circumstances, after assessment/ consultation with you, I will offer online video mediation as an option. It will only be possible if all parties to the mediation process consent.
No, the hourly rate of £120 per person per hour applies for online mediation, as well as face to face mediation.
It is simply not possible for me to work at the capacity I was working prior to Coronavirus. Working from home whilst looking after my young son is a tricky balancing act. Like many families I am seeing in mediation, we are all having to adapt to so many changes working from home, home schooling etc whilst finding time to take good care of ourselves. Appointments are more limited at the moment as a result. Generally, I usually have appointments available within 14 days (with the exception of any holiday periods which I will give you as much notice of as possible) and I will try to be as flexible as I possibly can to fit in with the demands you have.
I will not audio or video record any mediation session, and nor will you. I will check with you that neither you, nor anyone on your behalf, will do so. I may terminate online video mediation if there is inadequate quality of connection or a breach of this agreement may have occurred. I may suspend the mediation if there is any remote interruption and will restart the online session once satisfied that any interruption has been resolved and that it remains appropriate to continue following such interruption.
I ask that you:-
Ensure that only the people who have signed this agreement to mediate online may be present in the same rooms used by you during any online video mediation session. You will confirm that you are not able to be overheard from your location.
Agree to do all you can to ensure that you are not interrupted during online video mediation by anyone else such as children, relatives, pets, deliveries.
Agree to turn off or put to silent any phones, tablets or computers, and disable any alerts announcements or notifications of texts, emails, tweets or other social media activity, and close all or any other open application.
Agree to there being no live or deferred video or audio replay of the online mediation.
Agree not to video or audio record any online session.
Assign all intellectual property rights in the online video mediation sessions to the mediator.
Agree that if you create any video or audio recording of the online mediation, inadvertently or otherwise, you undertake to destroy any such recording as soon as you become aware of its existence.
Are clear that online video family mediation is a without prejudice process to seek a negotiated settlement.
My preferred use of technology for mediation, based on experience, is zoom. In terms of the practical steps, you will need to download on the device you plan to use Zoom on-line video facility. It is free to use, unless you chose to sign up to a monthly subscription package for your own personal/business use but this is not necessary for our meeting.
You will need an email address to open your Zoom account. Click on the link below and follow instructions to set up your Zoom account:-
When you are on the Zoom website sign up page, type in your email address which will be used to verify your Zoom account. Depending on your device, you may be asked to upload the Zoom app which is required in order to run the facility.
In advance of your individual meeting I will send you an email which will include a link to the meeting, as well as a password which you may be asked to enter if it doesn’t connect automatically. This is for your security.
Once connected to the meeting you may need to select ‘Start Video’ and take your device off ‘Mute’. This will allow a live stream of both video and audio.
I recommend you set up your account a day in advance of our meeting and if possible, try and have a trial run if you know someone else with Zoom, so that you can familiarise yourself with the technology. Please do not worry though. I will help you on the day with any difficulties and also offer a trial zoom call if you would like.
Practical preparation/ your mindset and choice of space
The emotional mindset for mediation is key, whether you are attending face to face or through an online video method. You will need to be willing to work together as a team to find a resolution.
I will also want you to please think about where you will be if you are in your home and check that you will be able to speak uninterrupted (as far as reasonably possible).
It is sensible to make sure you have any information/ documentation you need to hand as well as any refreshments to make yourself as comfortable as possible during your meeting.
Protecting children from adult discussions remains an absolute priority, particularly where children are unable to get relief from stresses at home from school, extended family members and their friends. I will help you work through the practicalities to ensure that if children are at home with you, the timing of your mediation works and that they will not be able to hear your discussions. Consider where your children or any other family members or those you are caring for will be if they are in the home with you. Could children safely be upstairs or in another space in the home, without being able to listen, while you are downstairs or vice versa. I will factor in some breaks for you to check on them.
I will want you to consider how you might feel if your mediation was difficult and you are upset and any space you might need to recover from any emotionally intense discussions. This is particularly important if you will be returning to home schooling the children for example or if you are both living in the same home. How can you ensure you are ready to return to your home life? What preparation will that take at the closure of a meeting to ensure that your mediation concludes when I finish your meeting and you can return to focusing on your home life and leaving your discussions for mediation only, remembering that there is no journey home to decompress.
Please be mindful of the space you are sitting in for online mediation, in particular what might be visible to the other person. Do you feel more comfortable sitting further away from the screen? Will you need a desk in front of you? Will you need to be beside a charger if you are using a device which might run out of power? Are there any distractions around you in the room, or outside?
Check that your space is comfortable, considering the height of your chair, desk or table in relation to the camera, lighting and distance from the camera. It can be daunting looking directly at faces on a screen. Consider how you will feel about seeing the other person on a computer screen.
Although we are mediating online, please ensure you feel well enough to participate. Online mediation is more tiring than face to face meetings so I will factor in plenty of breaks (for you and for me!). If you feeling at all unwell, please let me know and we can reschedule. It is important you are in the best possible place, emotionally, practically and physically to make the best use of the online meeting.
Communication remains key
If, at any time, use of the online method is not working for you, for whatever reason let me know and I will help you consider the alternatives.
Will it be suitable for me?
I will make a careful assessment as to whether mediation is suitable and if so, whether online video mediation is suitable after meeting with you initially individually for a detailed mediation information and assessment meeting. This will give you the opportunity to speak to me and trial the use of zoom before any formal mediation process begins.
My commitment to you
I will ensure you have a place of calm, albeit virtually, during the window of time when we meet, for your mediation to have the best possible change of success. I will continue to be responsible for upholding throughout the principles of voluntary participation, fairness and safety when assessing suitability for any online mediation and throughout your process.
If there is anything that I can do to make online mediation more comfortable for you, please do not hesitate to contact me.