january 2017


RSI Hosts Child Protection Mediation Training

Over the past few months, we have been reporting about RSI’s burgeoning Child Protection Mediation Program in Kane County. Last month, we shared that we would be hosting training for the program. This month, we are happy to report that the training was a success! During the course of the two days, 10 volunteer mediators were trained and are prepared to co-mediate cases. For both days, January 20 and 21, the trainees rated the training overall as excellent. Now that training is complete, the program is ready to begin mediating cases as soon as the court begins to refer them. This is exciting news!
Judge William Parkhurst, who hears child protection cases and will be referring them to mediation, and RSI Executive Director, Susan Yates, speak to the trainees.


Motivational Interviewing Doubles Likelihood of Full Settlement in Family Mediation

by Jennifer Shack, Director of Research

An experiment in Australia found that when mediators used motivational interviewing during the mediation, the parties were twice as likely to reach a full agreement. However, this technique does not reduce psychological distress, child adjustment problems or co-parental conflict. Motivational interviewing (MI) is a counseling technique designed to induce clients to change their behavior by exploring and resolving their ambivalence toward change. It has been found to be effective in a variety of contexts, including reducing aggression in intact couples.

This study, undertaken by Megan Morris as part of her PhD thesis (Motivational Interviewing and Family Mediation: Outcomes for Separated Families, 2016 (see Chapter 4)), is the first to examine the use of MI in family mediation. To determine the impact of MI on mediation outcomes, Morris randomly assigned 177 separated families to either the treatment group (n=94), in which the mediator used MI, or the control group (n=83), in which the mediator did not. The mediations were conducted over the phone and recorded and coded by multiple trained coders as to the integrity of the MI treatment. In all, 108 sessions were recorded, including 68 intake sessions and 40 joint sessions by 15 mediators. Eight of the mediators were randomly assigned to be trained in MI before the study; the other seven were offered training after the study was completed. Those trained prior to the study incorporated MI into their mediations during the study, while the other group continued to use their usual mediation techniques. 

Recordings of intake interviews and joint sessions indicated that mediators trained in MI techniques ranked much higher on the MI Treatment Integrity Scale than those who were not, demonstrating that there was a difference in the services provided to the treatment and control groups. Parents in the treatment group were twice as likely to reach full agreement as those in the control group (33% v 16%) and less likely to reach no agreement (33% v 42%). There were no other statistically significant differences in satisfaction with the mediation, psychological distress or child adjustment.

Although the research was well-designed, it suffered from technical and logistical issues, including problems with recording equipment that significantly reduced the number of recorded sessions and families who were accidentally provided the wrong service for at least one of their sessions. Further, there was a high attrition rate for the study: of those who agreed to participate, only 26% completed the post-mediation satisfaction surveys and psychological assessment instruments. This may have affected the research findings. In particular, the high attrition rate may have masked differences in outcomes that existed between the two groups, leading to a finding that there were no differences in the long-term outcomes (i.e., psychological distress and co-parental conflict).

RSI Board Of Directors

Terry Moritz, President
Prof. James J. Alfini
Marc Becker
Hon. Morton Denlow (ret.)
J. Timothy Eaton
Mitchell Marinello
Raven Moore
Hon. Stephen Pacey (ret.)
Brian Roche
Hon. James Sullivan (ret.)

RSI Staff

Susan M. Yates, Exec. Director
Bridget Crawford
Matthew Flores
Mariah Heinz
Olga Kordonskaya
Kevin Malone
Jennifer Shack
Eric Slepak, Editor




End of Foreclosure Mediation Programs Doesn’t Signal the End of Foreclosure Mediation

The use of foreclosure mediation programs throughout the country has varied. Some programs have either ended or are winding down. Just last month, we reported that Nevada’s Foreclosure Mediation Program is slated to end this June. Although these differences in the treatment of the programs vary state-by-state, it seems they also vary within states. In Hawaii, for instance, after four years of conducting foreclosure mediations, the Ku’ikahi Mediation Center was forced to forego its Foreclosure Mediation Program. This was in September 2016. Nonetheless, on the other side of the Big Island, the West Hawaii Mediation Center continues to conduct foreclosure mediations and even provides talks and trainings about the foreclosure process. What does this mean for the prospect of foreclosure mediation? For one thing, one program’s ending does not shed light on the lasting power of another program. But perhaps the most obvious message is that we can’t count foreclosure mediation out just yet.


How Can We Help You? RSI offers a clearinghouse of information on CourtADR.org and also responds to requests for information. Do you have a question about court ADR?


If you enjoy reading about the monitoring and evaluation efforts in our foreclosure mediation programs, or our monthly research update, please consider making a donation below to support this and the other work RSI is doing to strengthen justice through court ADR.
 RSI Site

RSI thanks JAMS and the JAMS Foundation for their support of this publication.

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