There has been numerous tv-shows about law and lawyers as long as we have had televisions. Now there are also a show, where the main character is a mediator. The show is called Fairly legal and you can watch the trailer here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SNqEEHHeqtI and the whole show from http://www.usanetwork.com/series/fairlylegal/video/fullep/ .
When I watched the trailer and 15 minutes of the show, I had to wonder, what all of that had to do with mediation. I am mediation advisor and my office mediates victim-offender cases. The main point in our mediation is, that the participants have a discussion (or in best cases dialogue) with each other and the mediator is there to support the process, helping participants if they need help. The solution isn't as important as the process of mediation. But good process can lead in situation, where participants create their own solution, and by doing that have a experience of fairness and reconciliation. In best cases everyone wins.
In Fairly legal trailer it's said, that "Kate solves people's problems". I am not a mediator because I want to solve problems of other people, I have enough problems of my own, thank you. I am a mediator, because I want to support people to solve their own problems. My job is to support people to talk to each other, my job is to listen, make questions and sometimes make visible, what people want and need. I am not a party in mediation, but I do have an effect and I hope that effect helps people to talk and listen each other.
Our mediations are always voluntary. If we try to achieve such mediations, where everyone feels, that they have been treated equally and fairly, it's important that they make their decision themselves. We can't define, what kind of decisions are good for others. Sometimes agreements sound redicilous, but they have an enormous meaning for those, who have made the agreement.
I really hope, that there will be a show in future, which tells a more real story of mediation. Because mediation at it's best is unbelievable experience, have all kinds of emotions in it, repairs broken relationships and create new positive ones and shows us how much unused strenghts and abilities people have. It gives us hope, that we can create world, where people are able to listen each other.