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Looking for a mediation membership body and don't know who to join?

Mediation 8th October 2013

Want to be a ‘professional mediator’ and don’t know who’s the best option?

There’s a flurry of activity in the mediation world as different bodies race to be the first to set real national standards for what makes for good mediation training, and what being a ‘professional mediator’ means.

Currently running in the UK field are:

  • The Civil Mediation Council
  • The College of Mediators
  • The Professional Mediators Association
  • The Society of Mediators

If you’re a mediator wanting to have your investment in mediation training and practice returned in the form of a ‘badge of competence’, which horse do you back?

Well, first it’s important to remember that these ‘standard setting’ bodies are in part designed to generate income at a time when mediation is struggling to survive. There are “mediators” everywhere you look these days, and an organisation that can tap into their enthusiasm for mediation will certainly make some money. Membership at around £100 a head will keep the bailiffs from the door a while longer. Companies which set up their own ‘national body’ are doing so as a marketing strategy and you may simply be joining their pipeline for future business opportunities, particularly those which require that you buy CPD from their own training arm.

So having said that, which one is the best option?

Society of Mediators is the newest. Its website is up and running and guess what? The only thing on it is membership details. Get punters paying up, and the rest will follow? I’m not sure this one has legs. It’s made up of the usual Civil mediators promoting Civil mediation.  I don’t think it will have anything to offer workplace mediators and its standards are all geared to the Civil mediation model.

The PMA is badged as independent, and does offer CPD and even an Award scheme. But look closer and it’s clearly owned and managed by one company. While anyone can join – and may get some benefit from doing so – it certainly isn’t a national, independent or objective organisation.

The College of Mediators was the College of Family Mediators not so long ago – but widened its net to catch more of the mediating fishes in the sea.  The strength of this body lies in its family mediation roots: Family mediation historically demanded longer training, on-going supervision of mediators, and evidence of CPD. Its standards are rock solid and have been around far longer than any other.  It’s vulnerable though, because by moving its focus to ‘mediation’ not ‘family mediation’ it is promoting its wares in the same street as the Civil Mediation Council which in my view is the strongest offering.

The Civil Mediation Council does have genuine representation of workplace mediators.  It has Government departments on side and communicates with them, and with Unions, and with ACAS and the Academics researching mediation, openly and frequently. It is overhauling its standards for minimum training – upwards. And it’s setting realistic membership criteria that will make sense to workplace mediators.  In return for membership, you will get access to a range of CPD and knowledge from a truly representative group of organisations. This is why we signed up to join the Civil Mediation Council, and why I sit on the Workplace Committee and the Government Committee.

If you want to get a badge of competence beyond your initial training, and you want to grow as a ‘professional’ mediator, the Civil Mediation Council is the best option.