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40-Hour Family Mediation Skills Training

 February 14-18, 2011 (4-day, Rule 114 Certified course for inclusion on the Minnesota Supreme Court Neutral Roster)
Cost: $995 Gov't/nonprofit rate and before Feb 1; $1,195.00 after Feb 1
Location: Hamline University, Minneapolis Campus

Course Description:  

Mediation is a flexible and creative process that offers families an opportunity to work out issues and concerns in a way that most accurately reflects the needs, intentions and abilities of the participants. The mediator is a neutral facilitator, who uses the process of mediation to create an environment for parties to communicate effectively, explore their needs and find constructive outcomes.

This course provides trainees with a mediation structure, emphasizes mediator tools and strategies for effective communication and resolution and teaches a positive approach to solving family legal issues that not only reduces tension in the family but also leads to innovative solutions to family conflicts. The five-day session includes a mixture of multi-media presentations, demonstration of a family mediation session, skills practice, hands-on exercises, role plays and real life examples. It also includes psycho-dynamics of divorce, family law, domestic abuse issues, and ethical concerns.

Trainees experience a supportive learning environment that includes group discussion and individualized feedback from experienced coaches. The simulations include both divorce and post-decree cases. Our trainers are experienced mediators who create an engaging atmosphere that encourages experimentation and participation. Trainees find this course invaluable in their professional lives, in formal mediation settings and for informal conflict management. The course is highly rated by psychologists, marriage and family therapists, guardians ad litem, and other professionals.

Who Should Attend:  

Individuals who want to mediate court-referred family cases, professionals who work with children, parents and families in conflict: attorneys, psychologists, therapists, counselors, social workers. This course can be adapted for your group or organization. Contact us at or by phone at 651-523-2880.


Setting the Context:

  • Psychodynamics of Conflict, Separation and Divorce
  • The Legal Process
  • Rule 114 - Spectrum of Conflict Resolution Processes
  • Difference between Mediation and Arbitration

Mediation: Philosophy and Values

  • Basic Assumptions about Family Mediation
  • Interest-Based Negotiation - The Core of the Mediation Process

Structure of Mediation and the Mediator's Role

  • Skills of the Family Mediator
  • Preparation and Intake

Domestic Abuse Issues

  • Screening for Domestic Abuse
  • Screening Exercise

The Mediation Process: Step One - Orientation

  • Orientation Demonstration
  • Orientation Preparation

The Mediation Process: Step Two - Information Gathering

  • Information Gathering Demonstration
  • Identifying Interests, Issues and Positions
  • Interpersonal Communication and Conflict Psychodynamics

The Mediation Process: Step Three - Framing Issues

  • Framing Issues Exercise
  • Simulation: Reasonables, Part I - Identifying and Framing Issues

The Mediation Process: Step Four - Identifying Interests

  • Identifying Interests Demonstration
  • Simulation: Reasonables, Part II - Child Custody
  • Focus on Interests - Fishbowl Exercise
  • Listening Skills
  • Impact of Divorce on Children
  • Parenting Issues

The Mediation Process: Step Five - Generating and Evaluating Options - Focus on Parenting

  • Generating Parenting Options Exercise
  • Evaluating Parenting Options
  • Simulation: Reasonables, Part III - Parenting Options

The Mediation Process: Step Five - Generating and Evaluating Options - Focus on Property Issues

  • Generating Options Regarding Property
  • Evaluating Options Regarding Property
  • Simulation: Reasonables, Part IV - Property Issues

Child Support and Maintenance Issues

  • Simulation: Money Matters - Child Support
  • Paternity
  • Ethics I

Intervening to Break Impasse

  • Intervening to Break Impasse Exercise
  • Caucusing with Parties

The Mediation Process: Step Six - Closing the Mediation

  • Simulation: The Washingtons
  • Writing Agreements
  • Simulation: The Goldsteins

Post-Decree Issues and Statutes

  • Simulation: Andersons - Post-Decree Issues

Power Imbalance and Domestic Abuse Issues

The Business of Mediation

  • Requirements of MN Rule 114
  • Co-Mediation

Simulation: Johnsons

Ethics II: Samoan Circle

The Trainers  

AIMEE GOURLAY Director at Mediation Center at Hamline University, joined the Center in 1993. Ms. Gourlay mediates and co-mediates family issues and consults with parties on selection of mediators for family cases. Ms. Gourlay was on the Minnesota Supreme Court Task Force on Family Alternative Dispute Resolution and was a coauthor of proposed amendments to the Rule 114 of the Minnesota General Rules of Civil Practice which require consideration of Alternative Dispute Resolution (“ADR”), including mediation, in family law cases.

KATHERINE NEVINS, Ph.D. Dr. Nevins has been mediating family and organizational issues since 1987. As a trainer and facilitator she has taught hundreds of individuals communication, mediation, and negotiation skills. She has special expertise in large group conflict resolution and in disputes involving complex psychological issues. As a professor of psychology at Bethel University, she has done research on the impact of divorce on children. Dr. Nevins is a charter member of the State of Minnesota Special Education Mediation Service Panel, the Panel of mediators for the United States Postal Service, and the State of Minnesota Cooperation for the Children program. She is a qualified neutral under Rule 114 of the Minnesota General Rules of Civil Practice. Dr. Nevins holds a PhD. in Educational Psychology from the University of Minnesota.

SUSAN D. MAINZER Susan D. Mainzer was named a Leading American Attorney in the alternative dispute resolution (ADR) areas of employment, commercial law and family matters. She is an experienced ADR practitioner, a trainer, retreat facilitator, workplace coach and organizational development consultant.

Susan is recognized for her expertise in helping people in highly conflicted relationships and from diverse backgrounds reach agreements. She frequently mediates family and other interpersonal cases, or serves as a parenting plan expeditor. She is often asked to serve as a Moderator for divorce settlement conferences in Ramsey County. She regularly mediates workplace disputes, insurance and business matters.

Ms. Mainzer has provided trainings in negotiation, family and civil mediation for Mediation Center and the American Arbitration Association. She was among ten American mediators chosen to participate in an international cross cultural conflict resolution study held in Germany. As an organizational development consultant, she helps design innovative conflict management processes, coaches individuals in conflict resolution strategies; she creates customized trainings in communication and appreciative inquiry to improve the workplace climate.

Susan Mainzer is a Practitioner Member of the Association for Conflict Resolution. She is a qualified neutral for family, contracts, personal injury and employment cases under Rule 114 of the Minnesota General Rules of Practice. Ms. Mainzer earned her law degree from the University of Wisconsin’s School of Law. She previously staffed the Minnesota Senate’s Public Utilities Committee and the Minnesota House’s State Departments Appropriations Committee. From 1999-2001 she worked at the Metropolitan Council as an internal facilitator, trainer and organizational development consultant.

Since 1986, Susan has served as an arbitrator and mediator on the American Arbitration Association’s commercial panel. She mediates family cases for Catholic Charities, Ramsey County Family Court, and Mediation Center. In 1998, she was trained to mediate postal service employment discrimination claims in Minnesota. Susan Mainzer was selected to join the Wisconsin and Minnesota State Special Education Mediation Panels. She has been mediating special education cases since 1997.