Do lawyers need coaching to change their mindset?
It was wonderful to be interviewed on Radio 4 Woman’s Hour about getting on well with my Ex and his wife – but why is it that this should be seen as unusual rather than the norm?
Shouldn’t family lawyers – especially those engaged in dispute resolution – also begin to question their own views and expectations about how their clients deal with their divorce, and perhaps change their perception of what is ‘normal’ when divorcing?
It makes sense to believe that lawyers working within Dispute Resolution are even more likely to be of a mindset that peace is preferable to war during divorce, yet I have heard Mediators complain about clients who don’t allow the mediation process to work – yet have not provided those clients with a holistic range of experts to access who can help those clients to see past their anger and pain. I have heard mediators say “Mediation is great – but it’s not right for everyone”. I suggest that this is an unhelpful mindset.
I couldn’t agree more. A good understanding of family dynamics and conflict in families would help all family lawyers. Indeed, one of our most successful mediators is my colleague Caroline Bowden and she has a certificate in counselling from Birkbeck University”. Kim Beatson, Mediator and Collaborative Lawyer at Anthony Gold Solicitors
“A lot of the despair and bitterness in divorcing couples comes from feelings of having been wronged and fear of an unknown future. People hang onto their negative states because they don’t know how to get over them. But when you hang on you can’t move on – you are chained to your grief and bitterness.
Lawyers and mediators could play a profound role in life after divorce by working with the therapists who are able to help people through this very traumatic time.” Deborah Talalay: Healing For Change
Is Dispute Resolution ‘Right for Everyone’?
I believe that dispute resolution IS right for everyone – it’s just that not everyone will choose it – especially if they do not have the toolset to access it. This is where coaching can be a powerful aid, as it helps change the way we look at things. It certainly helped me.
So perhaps more lawyers need to experience coaching first hand, and to take more responsibility for guiding clients towards the tools they need to open the door to allowing dispute resolution to work more effectively as a process?
But first the lawyers need to fully understand the benefits of those services and to work with a belief system that puts amicable separation (despite hiccups and challenges along the way) as the expected outcome.
People tend to live up to the expectations of others – so let’s turn our hopes into expectations and I believe that the results will surprise even the most hardened cynics.
“Coaching has definitely helped me understand where my experience was coming from. As a consequence, I stopped seeing my ex-husband as the culprit and realised that we both had our responsibilities in the situation and that we had done the best we could at the time. There is no point in accusing the other party, it does not lead to resolution. Divorce can be a devastating experience if we do not ask for help. The coach is here to help see things clearer and allow for an amicable relationship and peace of mind despite the obvious challenges.” Sandi Martel: BeOk Therapy
“Lawyers can too often fall into the trap of too arrogantly suggesting: “I know what is best for you, ignore my advice at your peril”. What those who are not used to encouraging a family to find their own solutions lack, is the humanity to understand that they are not the only source of help for that family. Who are they to dictate how your family should be reorganised? Dispute resolution methods enable a family to seek out their own solution that will work for their children, and the parents as individuals. Mediation can work well, but some will need to be helped by other professional disciplines to come to the table at the right time in the relationship bereavement process, so the couple’s agenda for mediation suits their life path to their future, at their own pace.” John Stebbing, Mediator and Collaborative Lawyer at Stephen Rimmer LLP
Woman’s Hour interview with Alternative Divorce Guide Suzy Miller: