Conflict is an unavoidable part of life. Some people thrive on it, others try to avoid it at all cost. Why not learn more about developing skills to find a resolution through mediation?
On 9-11 & 13-14 October a group of 23 people met in Dublin to learn more about conflict, alternative dispute resolution and mediation. At the end of the programme they knew more about their own response to conflict and had developed the skills to help others find a resolution through mediation.
Arranged by the Irish Mission of Seventh-day Adventists and provided by the Center for Conflict Resolution at La Sierra Centre University, the Basic Professional Mediation Course taught participants to facilitate a restorative mediation process in which both sides of a conflict are given the opportunity to share and listen to each other before hopefully coming to a settlement.
Seminars, exercises, and trial mediation
Before attending the five day practical training in Dublin, the participants completed a rigorous six-module online course that included theory, online group discussion and the development of a portfolio. The course covered the basics of the professional mediation process, conflict resolution, active listening, and other skills needed before the intensive face-to-face sessions held at the CityNorth Hotel.
Over four days of seminars, exercises and trial mediations, course instructors Tony BelakHealth (Care Program and Associate Center Director for the Center for Conflict Resolution, USA) and John Robert Curtin (The 4Civility Institute, USA) brought their years of expertise and wide ranging life experience together as they helped the participants discover more about themselves and gain valuable listening and negotiating tools to equip them to manage the complexity of mediation.
They were joined by Gerry Rooney, a former President of the Mediators Institute of Ireland, who provided an Irish context to the training and facilitated the assessments that were held on the fifth day. Rochelle Webster (trainer for the Center for Conflict Resolution and Senior Pastor of the Paradise Valley Seventh-day Adventist Church in National City, California, USA) presented on the levels of conflict and some of the strategies we use to diffuse and resolve them.
The long days were filled with self-assessments, group exercises, trial mediations, feedback and discussion, and the evenings with portfolio work and preparing for the Mediators' Institute of Ireland certification. After the concentrated training, on the final day the majority of the participants took part in an hour-long, video-recorded assessment. Those that reached the required standard were able to complete the process of certification and will go on to register as a mediators in Ireland.
Testimonies from participants
As the course finished, Dan Serb, Irish Mission President, shared with the new mediators his vision for the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Ireland and Northern Ireland to be known as mediators, peacemakers and a place where people can find help dealing with conflict. A network of Adventist mediators is being planned and it is hoped that a Centre for Conflict Resolution will be developed locally.
Attendees came from across the Irish Mission and beyond and included both ministers and lay members. Some saw mediation as a future career or part-time role, others were looking to gain new skills to use in their churches, families, communities and workplaces.
Samuel Ngui, a minister from the SEC, felt that the training had “enhanced my ministry, especially in dealing with conflict in healthy manner.” Betty O’Rourke from the West of Ireland also commented how the skills learnt “may be used in the church but also for life and are applicable in lots of situations.” Heather Keough, from the Church’s Cuisle Centre, felt that the tools she gained would “totally revolutionize how I deal with contact in the future, but also how to help others resolve their conflicts.”
Like many of the participants, Anna Boisko wasn’t sure at first how useful the course would be, but once it started, “I grew to absolutely love it. I enjoyed every minute of helping people to resolve their conflicts, come to conclusions and win-win situations. The information and practical exercises, alongside real-life experience stories, sucked me into the whole process.” Her final comment, “Now I know that this is something I definitely want to do,” is something shared by all those who took part.