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Mediating in Green

By Abbey Krause, Senior Personal Advisor/Mediator

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We tried something new this year in Amber. Instead of holding mediation sessions in a standard room – table, chairs, couch, water, note pads ….. We decided to move outside. There is a growing volume of research to suggest that spending time in green spaces; being outside, being in nature can have a positive therapeutic effect on an individual’s well-being. We wanted to offer something new and different. And isn’t that what mediation is all about? Having a conversation in a different way? A different space? Shifting perspectives?

Our innovative Amber Model combines mediation and support because we recognise that family arguments and conflict can be complicated. As a mediator working with families I know how challenging it can be for families to agree to come together to discuss what has been difficult but also to talk about how they would like things to be. Mediation provides this space and with the help of a skilled mediator, families often leave the conversation with a different perspective, a deeper understanding of each other and hopefully an agreed way forward for the future.

So off I trotted one summer’s afternoon for my first mediation in The Cyrenians Community Gardens set amongst bright flowers, vegetables and tall green trees.  It was wet, it was cold and not quite the peaceful, therapeutic environment I had been imagining. The young person and his parents arrived in the rain with faces like thunder. Everyone shuffled into the summerhouse.  There was definite anxiety in the air and the Scottish summer temperature was not helping.  Fortunately with the help of a large packet of KitKats and hot cups of tea the family settled into their new environment and we got started ….

The weather and mood cheered up substantially and things were feeling much calmer by the end.  We took a walk through the garden which felt like it helped to connect the family again to each other and to normal life after what had been a reasonably difficult conversation they had shared.

What did I learn? We talk about mediation being a ‘flexible process’, with young people and families this is so important. From our experience families do not want clinical environments, they want to feel like normal people and to spend time feeling safe and nurtured. The spaces we create as mediators physically and metaphorically should allow families to do this. Staying present to the needs of the people we are working with and trying new and innovative ways of engaging families is something I think we do well.

Abbey Krause, Senior Personal Advisor/Mediator

Abbey is a mediator, conflict resolution practitioner and trainer. She has worked for various mediation providers and organisations working to help people to better manage conflict. Abbey has an MSc in mediation and conflict resolution which has helped her expand her knowledge and to reflect on the relationship between theory and practice.

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