To open the session, your mediator will outline the ground-rules and ensure he has signed consent to mediation forms. The ground-rules are key and loosely explained as follows.

1. No interrupting. Let each party have their say
2. No foul language, emotions can run high, but commit to keeping things civil
3. Remember that the process is "off the record" and what is said in mediation cannot be used in court at a later stage if the mediation is unsuccessful
4. Feel free to take a moment and call someone for advice if you need this is permissable during the process.

Your mediator will then choose a party at random to make their opening statement. This is effectively your perspective of the situation, where you are and where you need to be. The other party will then be invited to make their opening statement.

Once your mediator has heard opening statements, he may choose to ask some questions to clarrify points or could move directly to caucus. A caucus is where your mediator will separate the two parties and have confidential discussions with one party at a time. What is said in those caucus sessions is totally confidential and your mediator can not and will not disclose anything said in caucus without your express permission - and to help further discussions.

In any dispute, whether it's custody, divorce or contracts there's always an emotional angle for each party. It could be fear, anger, outrage, sadness or any one of a range of emotions. Your mediator is there to help address and acknowledge those emotions and assist with ensuring that your point of view is carried accross to the other party clearly.

Through a process of directed discussions and ultimately bargaining jointly and in caucus, your mediator will help the parties to reach an agreement. At times it may be neccessary to reflect on best case/ worst case scenarios in terms of the matter in order to bring perspective and your mediator will guide this.

Throughout the process, your mediator is there to listen, ask, clarrify points, highlight issues and add perspective to the discussion.

Your mediator is there to work for BOTH parties equally. He is there to help guide and keep discussions productive. In order to do so, he is armed with an array of training and experience that could include counselling, negotiating, basic psychology, transaction analysis and neurolinguistics.

Mediation is a process of guided discussion and interpretation of what is important to each party always bearing in mind that the process seeks to diffuse tensions, clarify positions and achieve a mutually acceptable outcome.