ISDR adopts a child-centred approach in every mediation.
In all Family Mediation processes, parents are the decision makers. Child-Centred Mediation provides an opportunity for children to speak about their experience of the change to the family circumstances that comes with separation. In Child-Centred Mediation, two meetings of the children occur using play based strategies that allow the child voice to come forward.
In Australia, North America, Asia and the UK, Lorri Yasenik PhD and Jon Graham are leading advocates of child centred mediation. Lorri and Jon have teamed together to create a model of family mediation practice known as "The Child-Centred Continuum Model".
Yasenik and Graham describe the process "as raising the involvement of the children so they can speak to their own thinking, wishes and concerns...when parents hear the voice of their child they can make very different decisions because the voice of their child is suddenly becoming more prominent."
Lorri and Jon are the Founders of the International Centre for Children and Family Law Inc.
HOW TO BROACH THE TOPIC WITH YOUR CHILDREN
We will provide you with a tip sheet on how to explain the Meeting with your child.
Some tips include:
Explain that mum and dad have been seeing a mediator to help make some decisions about the future now that we all live in two houses.
You can then explain that Mum and Dad and the mediators want to make sure that everyone understands what their life is like at the moment.
Explain that the children are invited to speak to a helper who will just check in with each child to see how they are going at the moment. The helper has games and activities to make the time as fun as possible,
You can explain that when they talk with the helper it is a private but not secret time. They can say if there are things that they would like to be kept private. They are free to say as much or as little as they want.
HOW CHILD -CENTRED FDR WORKS
Child-Centred FDR/Mediation involves the FDR practitioner/mediator meeting twice with the children in their own session.
The meetings are Private But Not Secret, meaning that only the information that the child agrees can be brought back to parents will be brought back. However the child is of course free to tell their parents what ever they like about what happened in the session.
Each meeting uses play based activities that allow the children to speak through the activity.
The process is designed to be fun and engaging for the child.
Generally each parent brings the child to a meeting with the practitioner.
Where there are more than one child in a family, the time begins with everyone in the room, and then moves to individual meetings with each child.
Meetings go for no longer than one hour per child (and in the case of multiple children most often 45 minutes per child)
Parent feedback occurs in a separate session and is compiled around nine areas identified as interests and concerns for children living in two houses.
The child meeting:
Does Not interpret the meaning of what a child said, drew or created
Does Not ask the child to become a decision maker between their parents
Does Not seek answers to adult questions
Is Not an evidence gathering process. It simply captures what a child said at a particular time on a particular day.
The information is provided for parents and no written report is provided. All information provided is inadmissible as it is a part of the FDR process.