The principle of voluntary participation in mediation demonstrates the willingness of the party to communicate with each other in order to resolve the conflict. The party benefits from remaining in control all the way, participation is freely agreed and is a matter of choice. However, mediation is based on more than one perspective, requiring both parties to agree for mediation in order for negotiation to take place. It is important for each party to recognise that they are in the mediation process out of their own free will to work through the dispute. Mediation is difficult if either party is unwilling to co-operate or compromise to come to a solution. Voluntary participation is equally important in mediation and counselling services.
A significant difference in mediation is that mediators need to remain impartial, not taking anyone’s side or give advice. This ensures the parties involved that they are not being judged or blamed. It can become particularly difficult to agree on a solution when both parties believe in the strengths of their own case and not being able to verify the argument.
One of the core principles relevant to counselling is beneficence. Beneficence is the act of charity, mercy and kindness. A counsellor promotes what is good for the client and strives to provide the best care with the expectation that the client will benefit from counselling. However, counselling is not always the best answer to a problem. The client is weak and vulnerable, the counsellor holds the position of trust, power and authority which comes with high levels of responsibility to ensure these standards are upheld.
Respecting the client’s autonomy empowers the client to make their own decisions, enabling the client to deal with the difficulties in a more productive and independent manner. Autonomy helps with independence, to identify personal goals and bring out desired changes for self-realisation in order to find ways to progress. However, one of the common ethical difficulties in counselling may arise when the client’s decision conflicts with the counselor’s duty of beneficent of looking out for their best interest. For example, if a young person wants to continue to binge drink even when the drinking is causing problems with their relationships, the counsellor will have to respect the young person’s decision even while trying to convince the young person otherwise. Autonomy is promoted in counselling, mediation and advocacy services.
Advocacy aims to provide clarity of purpose, their role and responsibilities for acting for the client is made clear which is key for the client to know what to expect. Advocates seeks to ensure the clients voice is heard; they do not make the choices for them even if their ideas differ. Having good knowledge on the laws and rights for the individual can help to protect clients and voice their concerns.
Communication is important, the advocate need to fully understand the issue in order to interpret for complexity of the case and produce an effective response (Moss, 2015). A similarity between counselling and advocacy is that they are bias towards their client’s needs whereas mediation is an impartial service.
The Role of Mediation in Work with Young People
Family relationships often break down in stressful situations to the extent that families feel that living apart is the best option. The involvement of a neutral third party can help support the family to continue to live together through mediation. For a young person life chances are usually better the longer they are living at home. Mediation can provide practical help in dealing with conflicts in family relationships. Learning how to resolve their difficulties and helping the young person to remain in the family home until it is appropriate for them to leave. The National Homelessness Advice Service (NHAS) suggest that mediation can help to avoid family breakdowns through resolving disagreements and conflicts, preventing problems escalating to the point of crisis, improving communication and relationship skills, learning how to compromise through improving and strengthening parent-teenager relationships. Mediation may not be appropriate in all situations such as the young person is suffering from violence or abuse in the family home or if they feel coerced into mediation then it is set up to fail.
Peer mediation is a process in which students act as mediators to resolve disputes amongst themselves. This is a form of conflict resolution in a constructive and non-violent manner based on integrative negotiation and mediation by their peers. With the help of peer mediators’ disagreements are openly faced, working towards shared understanding and agreements through careful exploration of the conflict. Mediators work with their peers to help resolve conflicts, address bullying and prevent fights. addressing student disagreements and low-level disciplinary problems such as issues surrounding bullying, fighting, racism/ sexism, spreading rumors etc. A good mediator would display a range of personal qualities such as communication skills, respect for their peers, self-confidence, empathy, leadership, willingness to receive feedback, ability to speak in front of groups. (Scottish mediation)
Peer mediation for young people can be set up in their schools, youth organisations or any other relevant settings. Peer mediation promotes leadership skills, communication, cooperation skills, confidence and tolerance, enhancing strengths and building resilience amongst those involved. As such it is helpful and beneficial to all children and young people. Paterson identified how peer mediation consistently helps with friendships, they are honest and willing to help, training is key to successfully lead.
According to Stopbullying.com peer mediation is not the appropriate intervention for Sam as bullying is not a conflict but a form of victimization. Mediation can send the out wrong message to students as the process assumes no one is right or wrong. The message for bullies should be that this type of behavior will not be tolerated. The message to Sam would then be received as she does not deserve this and she is being fully supported to stand up against bullies. Mediation may upset Sam as facing the bully may make her feel worse.