Family Mediation Handbook

Article excerpt

BARBARA LANDAU, LORNE WOLFSON, NIKI LANDAU, BARTOLETTI, and RUTH MESBUR Family Mediation Handbook

Toronto, ON: Butterworths, 2000, 424 pages (ISBN 0-433-42374-9, C$85, Hardcover) Reviewed by BLAKE WOODSIDE

Family mediation has become increasingly important in recent years as the court system has tried to move away from a litigation-based system of resolving disputes arising from divorce and separation. This change had led to the development of a cadre of individuals who are providing mediation services. As is the case for any emerging specialty, there is a gradual process by which standards of practice are established and accepted. This volume represents a very important advance in the process of setting standards for this relatively new and complex area of endeavour.

This book tries to address the needs of a diverse group of practitioners, ranging from professionals who have their roots mainly in legal practice to those whose experience stems mainly from practice with families and family therapy. The book seems slightly biased towards assisting those with a fairly extensive legal background, but does make an excellent effort to review the legal issues surrounding family mediation in a clear, jargon-free fashion. By the same token, the sections that are more focused on the family interactional aspects of mediation are also written in the same clear and concise fashion.

The book is divided into several components. The first two chapters review the historical context of the rise in interest in family mediation and describe family mediation in the context of other approaches to dispute resolution. The second portion of the book, comprising Chapters 3 to 5, provides an excellent and comprehensive description of the skills required by a family mediator. This middle section of the book is extremely well written and will be an invaluable resource for any practitioner considering becoming involved in this area of activity. Descriptions of the initial contract with the family, the assessment process, and typical impasses are comprehensive, clear, and easy to understand. The addition of a large selection of appended material, including assessment forms and checklists, provides an very complete package for the novice mediator who is developing skills or for the more experienced mediator who is looking for some additional polish. …