Volunteers do the vast majority of mediations at Citizens Mediation Service. You do not need to have any special educational background (except for domestic mediation, where a law degree or master’s in counseling or social work is required). You must be at least 21 years of age and you do need to be:
- Available to mediate during the daytime on weekdays.
- Willing to mediate cases at least two cases a month.
- Willing to complete at least 40 hours of training.
- *Able to pay some amount for training*.
- Willing to engage in eight hours of Advanced Training every two years.
- Punctual, respectful, and thorough on every case, regardless of your own feelings.
- Able to capture the parties’ intentions accurately in writing for Agreements.
- Willing to undergo a criminal background check.
- Able to allow people to solve their own problems, even if you think you know the “right” answer.
Being a volunteer mediator can be one of the most rewarding experiences you can have. Every case brings a new set of problems that need solving, feelings that need calming, relationships that need repairing. Not every mediation ends in agreement. But those that do often leave us with a feeling of satisfaction that is uniquely rewarding and different from any other volunteer experience you may have had in the past.
Here is a list of qualities that good mediators tend to have:
1. A strong sense of empathy with the problems, situations, and feelings of others.
2. The ability to stay neutral even when your heart clearly wants to side with one party or the other.
3. A non-judgmental attitude, as free of stereotypes and generalities as possible.
4. The ability to take yourself out of the equation. You may have had a similar problem as your clients in the past but your focus must always be on helping your clients reach their own conclusions and their own solutions.
5. Punctuality. If you have a habit of being late or missing appointments, this is NOT the volunteer experience for you!
6. Disciplined and able to summarize issues and solutions clearly and succinctly. There are specific forms used by the courts that must be filed for each case. Since a signed agreement is the same as a legal contract, learning to write good agreements is an essential skill for a mediator.
7. A natural curiosity that makes you eager to continue learning how to get better as a mediator.