What is mediation?
Mediation is a voluntary and confidential process in which a neutral third party, called a mediator, helps disputing parties to arrive at a mutually acceptable solution to their conflict. Mediation is a step-by-step process in which agreement and disagreement are explored, relevant information is collected and shared, options and proposals are discussed, and negotiations between the parties are conducted to resolve the conflict. Unlike a judge, the mediator does not make any decisions, but rather helps the parties to discuss their viewpoints, generate new options, and create effective outcomes. Again, mediation is a voluntary process. Parties are free to leave at any time with or without having reached an agreement. Furthermore, parties do not lose any rights by participating in mediation. If parties do not reach an agreement, they are free to pursue their conflict in another venue, such as court or therapy, if applicable. It is not uncommon for a dispute to require multiple mediation sessions in order to reach an agreement. However, most mediations result in some form of agreement between disputing parties.

What are the goals of mediation?
• To serve as a community resource in resolving conflicts
• To teach people how to resolve their differences through cooperation and negotiation
• To prevent the escalation of disputes into more serious conflict or criminal activity
• To relieve the courts of matters that do not require a formal court structure

What is the role of a mediator?
A mediator is not a judge or therapist. S/he does not evaluate evidence, decide who is right or wrong, impose a decision, or diagnose or treat mental illness. A mediator has absolutely no vested interest in the outcome of a case one way or another, except to ensure that both parties try as hard as they possibly can to reach a mutually satisfactory agreement. S/he is completely neutral. In fact, it is important that the mediator not personally know any of the disputing parties personally, in order to assure neutrality.


What is the difference between mediators and therapists in addressing conflict between family members and couples?
Family and couples therapists are trained to treat a wide range of serious clinical problems, including depression, anxiety, adult schizophrenia, affective (mood) disorders, adult alcoholism and drug abuse, children's conduct disorders, adolescent drug abuse, eating disorders, childhood autism, and chronic physical illness in adults and children. Family and couples therapists regularly practice what is considered short-term therapy. The average length of family and couples therapy is 12 sessions, though it is not uncommon for up to 50 sessions to be required.

Mediators are trained to identify and work toward a specific and balanced resolution to the presenting conflict(s). Mediators are not trained to treat any related mental health or medical disorders. They do, however, employ a number of specific skills to ensure that all disputing parties have equal opportunity to present their understanding of the conflict. Mediators are also trained to help frame all issues in neutral language and to identify and specify exactly what aspects of the conflict can be addressed through mediation. Finally, mediators are trained to move disputing parties toward a balanced agreement or resolution of conflict, without being directive or controlling. Moreover, most mediation cases are completed within 2 to 6 sessions.

What is the difference between a mediation agreement and a court decision?
When a decision is imposed by a court, such as small claims court, typically there is a winner and a loser, often leading to ongoing litigation and conflict. However, through mediation, in approximately 80% of all cases, both parties leave with a mutually satisfactory agreement, thus fostering ongoing peace and harmony.

Why should I consider mediation?
• It will occur at a time and place convenient to all parties
• All matters are confidential
• All parties will be able to present their positions and interests
• Agreements focus on the needs of all parties
• Restitution or monetary settlements may be paid by one party to another
• You will feel responsible for resolving your own dispute
• Minor disputes or conflicts will not grow into serious ones
• The process has shown high satisfaction and compliance rates
• Mediation is often a very viable alternative to longer-term, more emotionally and financially costly forms of conflict resolution such as traditional couples therapy or litigation.

When can mediation be used?
There is a wide range of conflicts that mediation will help resolve amicably. I am particularly interested in working with families, small businesses, and independent contractors in conflict, including, but certainly not limited to the following:
• Couples in conflict
• Parents and offspring in conflict
• Child custody and visitation disputes between estranged parents
• Inter- and intra-generational disagreements among family members
• Disputes between small business co-owners
• Disagreements between small business owners or independent contractors and clients, sub-contractors, suppliers, or agents


What happens during a typical mediation session?
The mediator will provide all parties with an opportunity to share their respective understanding of the conflict. If one party wishes to share documentation, it must also be shared with the other party. Although it is important for the mediator to understand the nature of the dispute from both parties' perspectives, the majority of energy should be focused on what the parties will and will not do moving forward. In order to move the process forward, the mediator may choose to meet with each party individually. This is called a caucus. If a caucus is necessary, the mediator will meet with one party, followed by the other. All information shared in caucus is kept strictly confidential, unless otherwise authorized by the caucusing party.

How long is a typical mediation session?
Mediation session are typically two hours in length.

What is expected of the disputing parties during a mediation session?
There are two important ground rules that all parties must follow in order to ensure the most productive mediation hearing possible. The first ground rule is that when one party speaks, the other(s) listen. Listening is as important as talking, as one party may share information that the others are not aware of, and that may be instrumental to reaching an agreement.

The second ground rule is for all parties to work together and try as hard as possible to find a solution that is at least minimally acceptable to all parties, as it is unlikely that disputants will reach a perfect solution for all concerned.

What kind of forms and questionnaires do you use as part of the mediation process?
There are a number of forms that I use to guide the mediation process. The two that I would like to bring to your attention are the Pre-Mediation Couples Questionnaire and the Mediator-Client Agreement. The Pre-Mediation Couples Questionnaire is only administered to couples and it is typically completed by both parties prior to the first mediation session. The Mediator-Client Agreement is generally filled out and signed at the beginning of the first mediation session.

How will I know that what I am sharing will remain between us only?
Mediation is a strictly confidential process. Nothing about the content of any session, verbal agreement or written agreement will be shared without the permission of all parties involved in the dispute. The only exception to the confidentially rule is if one or more of the parties poses an intention to endanger self or others, or if one or more of the parties makes any allegations of domestic violence.


What happens if one of the parties violates the agreement?
After an agreement is reached and signed, any alleged violations of the agreement should be immediately brought to the mediator's attention. In some cases, the mediator may determine that it is necessary to meet with both parties in order to resolve any alleged agreement violations. In other cases, the mediator may refer the parties to court, a therapist, a coach, or elsewhere, depending on the nature of the dispute.

What are your credentials for being a mediator?
For seventeen years I held a number of progressively responsible direct service, supervisory and senior management positions with New York City agencies including the Departments of Probation and Correction, the Mayor's Office of the Criminal Justice Coordinator, the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, and the Police Department. These positions afforded me ample opportunity to practice behavioral modification counseling, including intake assessments, individual and group work, and discharge planning; conduct strategic planning and program needs assessments; and design, implement and manage a broad range of social service programs.

I am a certified co-active coach with the Coaches Training Institute. I am also pre-certified in organization and relationship coaching with the Center for Right Relationship (CTI). Furthermore, I am a certified community mediator in New York State, having trained and apprenticed with the Columbia University School of Law and the Safe Horizon Center for Mediation. I have significant coaching and mediation experience with individuals in employment transition and personal crisis, aspiring and established entrepreneurs, and couples, families, business partners and corporate and non-profit teams in conflict.

Currently, I serve as Director of Mediation Services for New York City Civil Court, in addition to my private coaching and mediation practice. I am an active member of the New York State Dispute Resolution Association and the New York City Chapter of the International Coach Federation. When I am not coaching and mediating, I am busy managing my own small business incubator, called Hatch Business Ventures LLC.

I earned a Master's of Arts Degree in Public Policy and Administration, with a concentration in education and social work, from Columbia University. I earned a Bachelor's of Arts Degree in Cultural Anthropology, with a minor in urban studies, from The Colorado College.

What is your fee structure for mediation?
$100 per one hour session
Included: regular telephone and email communication between sessions
Fee structure subject to change.

What is your fee if all parties do not show up for mediation or if one or more of the parties leaves before the conclusion of the session?
Except under certain extenuating circumstances, you will still be charged $150 per session. This provides additional incentive for all parties to show up and stay for the entire session, which, in turn, increases the likelihood of reaching a verbal or written agreement.

What forms of payment do you accept for mediation?
I invoice clients by email following each session. Session fees are payable by cash, check, money order, debit card or credit card. If you choose to pay by debit or credit card, click the Pay Now button on your electronic invoice, or go to Fees & Payments and click the Buy Now button. Please wait to be invoiced prior to making payments.

How do I know you would be a good mediator for me?
If one or more parties is not comfortable with me after my in-person orientation to mediation at the beginning of the first session, you are free to terminate the session at no charge.