In our experience, people working through significant/conflicted family transitions…
...are often in an emotional, mental, physical, and/or psychological/spiritual state of agitation.
As such, they need a third party who is not in such a state him/herself, yet comfortable in the presence of others who are and skilled in the art of “state-shifting.” They can benefit from an accompanier who exudes compassionate, non-anxious presence and whose process makes room for and honours the place of emotion rather than suppressing or pathologizing it.
…create stories about their experiences in order to make sense of them.
These stories include the subjective, unconscious assignment of meaning and roles in which the worst motivations are generally ascribed to their ex-partner and the most noble to themselves. As such, a gentle yet fearless third party with a bigger perspective can assist them to deconstruct these restrictive and one-sided narratives in favour of constructing a new, joint story in which new meanings can be co-created.
…often get mired in unhelpful, usually unconscious patterns of interaction and (non)communication that increase their suffering as well as the distress of others they care about.
A third party with the wisdom, skill, and tact can help them become aware of these patterns and “own” their part in them. They need someone who can assist them to value and share their own experience (empowerment) while also supporting them to listen to and value the experience of the other (recognition) so that the way they talk and listen to one another at the end of the mediation is different than at the beginning and their way of interacting going forward is also transformed for the better.
…tend to look for allies while being on the lookout for enemies.
In such a state of contraction and fear, people can really benefit from a third party with whom they feel safe and cared for and whom they feel “has their back.” At the same time, they need someone who will not fall into the trap of blind, one-sided advocacy and thus is equally partial to the “other side” as well as all other parties being affected by the dispute.
…often lose sight even of their most basic interests and needs in favour of “scoring points” against their perceived opponent.
That is, couples going through the trauma of separation can be prone to “destroying the village to save it.” A skilled third party can see and name this tendency and is not afraid to challenge, cajole, push and press them – often with the humour and grace borne only of relationship – to re-examine a position, viewpoint, or demand that may be an obstruction to their goal of arriving at a settlement of the issues in a timely manner. At the same time, the third party must deeply understands the vital role that saving face and “time out to think” plays in this process.