Been to the doctor’s recently? Practice Standards and Quality Assurance

Dr Mike Talbot Articles

Knowing what you’re getting

Have you been to the doctor’s recently? Or your chiropodist, or maybe your dentist? If you have, I’ll bet that you didn’t feel the need to ask them what training they had undertaken, or whether they have some particular standards that they work to?

The reason you didn’t feel that need is that we share an understanding about the credentials of these particular professionals. There is a consistent, and generally understood, level of qualification, experience, and standard of practice that would be demonstrated by a doctor, chiropodist, etc.

Mediators, however, don’t yet have that level of recognition. We have trained on lots of different courses, and work in different ways. It is difficult to pinpoint any generally accepted standard that mediators might be expected to meet.

You wanna be in my gang?

Unsurprisingly, in recent years there have been many attempts to formalise, or maybe that should be capitalise on, aspects of the mediation market. Various societies, councils and associations have sprung up, all with their own ideas about how many hours of training they should have, or how they should be working.

Yet it doesn’t work. The various bodies either represent one part of the industry, such as legal professionals, or one part of the mediation field, such as workplace or neighbourhood mediation. And, call me cynical, but these bodies are often attached to one or another training provider anyway: I don’t see how this kind of empire-building can be consistent with developing better and safer mediation practice in the UK.

Keep it simple, stupid

UK Mediation has been around for about eighteen years now, and we’ve seen various bodies and initiatives come and go; we’ve seen definitions of training standards that are clearly inadequate, and we’ve seen enormously long and complicated attempts at defining how mediators should be practising.

It doesn’t need to be that difficult. All you need to look for is Accredited Mediator status. And we can give you a really simple definition of what that means.

Accredited Mediators

It goes like this. Accredited Mediators are:

  • Trained to at least level four, as defined by Ofqual, the Regulator of examinations. That means externally accredited, quality assured training: not just something that is self-accredited by the training provider.
  • Working to a recognised code of practice. We recognise two codes of practice: the EU code of conduct for mediators, and the code of professional conduct of the International Mediation Institute. We have published our own simplified code, which acknowledges both of these, AND which applies to all forms of mediation
  • Engaged in CPD, ongoing training and case supervision, with any provider, not just us.
  • Holders of suitable indemnity insurance

We recognise that mediators work in a wide range of professional fields, and come from all kinds of professional backgrounds. Our code of practice, and associated status as an Accredited Mediator, apply equally well for all mediators.

And, importantly, you don’t have to join anyone’s gang or club to gain this status.

Being an Accredited Mediator says a lot about who you are as a mediator, and what your clients and funders can expect of you. You can prove your credentials to your market, and can show that you’re working safely and effectively. This is the standard that mediators need to aspire to.