Training With Us
Training and Induction with Focus Mediation
If you have completed your training with ADRg or CEDR or other organisation whose training is recognised by the CMC you may want to join our panel. There is not currently enough work to keep our existing panel busy, but we do run in house training and role plays to maintain skills and run marketing initiatives.
Family Mediators – Induction with Focus
If you are a trained family mediator and already have your FMCA accreditation, you can still expect a very thorough induction into the Focus systems and way of working to ensure consistent standards in our service. Requirements are:
1. You will be a member of The College of Mediators, as all our mediators are.
2. You’ll need to commit several days to observing and possibly co-mediating with an established Focus mediator
3. Your work will be overseen and your files reviewed to check standards against the AA Quality Mark as well as Focus internal standards.
4. Property and Financial mediations will be done by lawyer mediators up to date in Family Law, so you will be and remain up to date in Family Law. This is to ensure top quality legal information is given to clients.
5. Non Family Lawyer mediators will have to be willing to work on children only cases (see paragraphs 5 and 6 below)
6. The LAA is beginning to measure the performance of mediators at a range of Key Performance Indicators (“KPIs”). Focus also measures mediators’ success at these KPIs, including, Conversion to Mediation at Assessment as well as success at mediation itself once it starts. Missing out or skimming through induction and or training can be a big mistake, as we allocate work to our most effective mediators.
Family Mediators – Training with Focus
If you have completed your foundation training with a professional body recognised by the Family Mediation Council as an approved training body, you may well be searching for an organisation who can offer you training. At Focus we can offer a very limited number of training places and supervise your preparation of your portfolio for FMCA accreditation.
Focus is usually on the look-out for good prospective mediators, as our lead mediators have been mediating for over fifteen years and we need them to pass on their skills to the next generation. We only train our own mediators who want to remain part of our team in the longer term. We regret we are unable to offer the time and commitment training involves anyone not wanting to work with us in the long term. As we receive many inquiries about training to become a family mediator, we here set out what this involves.
Steps to become a Family Mediator with Focus
1. Complete the 8 day Foundation Training with a training organisation and professional body recognised by the UK Council of Family Mediation, such as the Family Mediators Association, (“FMA”), Resolution, National Family Mediation (“NFM”) or ADRg. You should have been educated to degree level and will often be from a Family Law or therapeutic back-ground.
2. You will need to commit a minimum of one day a week to training as a mediator, probably in Milton Keynes or Watford, where our lead Professional Practise Consultants (“PPCs”) work.
3. When our PPCs judge you are ready to practise, you will co-work with them. Once you are certified as “Ready to Practise” alone by your PPC, you will be given portfolio cases, which you will mediate under the supervision and observation of one of our experienced mediators, who will often be a PPC. In this way you will be able to learn how to mediate in practise as well as theoretically. It will take a significant number of cases before you’ll have learned enough to prepare your portfolio of cases for accreditation through Family Mediation. You will need to be self-supporting, as we will have to pay the mediator training you. We run on a shoe-string and cannot afford to pay people while we train them. You cannot train as a mediator on your own, practical experience is everything.
4. We can only train a small number of mediators at one time. We have people at different stages of training. It is unlikely to take less than a year to become ready to practise and put your portfolio together.
5. There is a route into mediation for family lawyers as well as non-family lawyers, usually from a therapeutic/psychological back-ground. However, please note that non family lawyers working with us will major in children only mediation. Non family lawyers would need to study Family Law in considerable depth and be able to give satisfactory legal information, before they can make the transition to property and financial mediation with Focus. This is an extremely tough mountain to climb and please do not skim over this warning thinking “It’ll be fine” because property and financial mediation involves giving considerable amounts of legal information and it is not a task for people who are tired of the law or who do not want to be bothered keeping up to date with the Law.
6. Please remember it is unlikely to take less than a year to become ready to practise and put your LSC portfolio together and become able to work on your own cases.
7. Our statistics show mediators go on improving for many years after qualifying, only reaching an acceptable standard at least two years after qualifying and then continuing to improve for years afterwards and then only if working nearly full time at mediation. One day a week will not cut the mustard.
8. Focus holds quarterly group supervisions for our team and we train and supervise our mediators and trainees constantly. Mediation can be a lonely profession unless you are part of an experienced and supportive team.
9. We are keen to train new mediators, but training represents a huge commitment for us. We do not have the capacity to train mediators other than to meet our own organisational needs.
Testimony of a Focus Mediator on her Training
I completed the FMA core training in London in January 09. There then followed a bewildering search for a mediation service that would take me on as a trainee. Ideally, I should already have been attached to a service, so that the core training was backed up by observation, but that had not been possible. Being restricted to one day a week and one hour’s drive from where I live made things difficult. Focus at Milton Keynes were the answer to my prayer: Mary Banham Hall was enthusiastically welcoming, because I wanted to qualify as a mediator for legally-aided clients, and those are few and far between.
The path is certainly long and arduous. I wanted to be able to mediate legal aid cases, so I had to get ready to practise and then complete five cases from start to finish, and write them up for my portfolio. Mary and her colleague Christine Bragg have gone out of their way to make this possible for me. They organised their diaries so that as many new cases as possible were scheduled for Wednesdays (my day), and then worked as co-mediators with me every week, discussing each case before and after the sessions. They checked my written work by email and provided support and evaluation at every turn. This is generous: they each have a very busy case load of their own.
I have learnt an enormous amount by watching how they mediate, by joining in, by making mistakes and being corrected. Mary and Chris have very different styles, and that, too, has been instructive.
I have now completed my portfolio, after one year of one day a week. Cases typically take 2 – 3 months, and are be-devilled with cancellations and no-shows, so I have had to practise patience as well as persistence. I wish I were able to give more than one day, and in an ideal world, one would train full-time; but then who would pay the bills?! Juggling two professional diaries has been extremely difficult, as has landing in Milton Keynes with my mediator’s hat on right in the middle of the week when I am extremely busy being a legal-aid lawyer. The skills required are very different, and I would advise anyone contemplating this to give as much time as possible to the mediation training. I could certainly do with more sinking-in time.
Focus is an extremely well-run service. The procedures and practices are tightly adhered to; support staff are excellent; the offices bright and friendly. A group seminar is held quarterly, at which we concentrate on a particular topic, swap horror stories and enjoy each other’s company. My PPC, Deborah Turner, is also attached to Focus, and I have regular meetings with her in the Milton Keynes office.
Mary arranged for an LSC grant to come my way, which will help with my expenses and pay a small hourly fee for my work, which has hitherto been voluntary. So even that side of things has been thought of, for which I am grateful.
Now I have been practising two years since qualifying as an LSC mediator – since Christmas 2011, full time as a mediator. I have given up legal practice and trained to be a Focus Collaborative Family Lawyer. I love the work and I love working with Focus. The more mediation I do, the better I get. Training, supervision and professional growth are constant. I’m thrilled to have this work, which is fascinating and rewarding with an organisation like Focus, at a stage in my career when many people have become fed up and jaundiced with most professions. - Caroline Friend
My training experience with Focus
I have been a Family Barrister for nearly 20 years having been previously a CAB adviser and then a solicitor. I completed my Core training as a mediator in 2009. I initially and rather optimistically commenced a traineeship and practising at the Bar in parallel. This proved somewhat of an uphill struggle combining the two so I put my mediator training on hold.
This all changed this year when I decided to concentrate 100% on completing my mediator training. I was very luck to meet Mary at Focus and joined up with them this September. I am lucky in that I have been able to totally immerse myself in the mediation process. I have been able to observe a whole series of mediations involving both Property and Finance and Children's Issues with different mediators observing their different styles and techniques and have found it fascinating. Although of course I am familiar and comfortable with the law the “science” of mediation is very challenging and I am learning to take off my problem solving hat and learn alternative ways of resolving disputes.
I hope very soon to be able to move on to assessments and to co-mediate.
Everyone at Focus has been extremely warm and welcoming – mediators and the ever patient staff alike.
I only wish I had “crossed over” years ago! - Annie Ives