How Do I become a Mediator?
Being a mediator is stimulating and rewarding. Mediation allows for a deeper understanding of people and their needs. Mediators enjoy helping people resolve their disputes and improve their relationships for the future. However, developing a mediation practice requires a major time-commitment and is not a reliable source of full-time income in Maryland at this time. To avoid disappointment, we advise people that they are more likely to be satisfied if they are motivated by an interest in the process, rather than in the hope of achieving a livelihood through mediation.
The best way to begin is to take a forty-hour basic mediation course. Mediation courses are offered on a regular basis by private trainers and institutions around the state. A directory of Maryland ADR Practitioners can help you find a trainer in your area. It may also be possible to take mediation training from a community mediation center and continue as a volunteer mediator in that program. After the forty-hour basic mediation course, there are additional mediation training courses you may choose, such as a course in custody/visitation mediation or marital property mediation. Some trainers also offer workshops on such topics as dealing with impasse in mediation, advanced mediation, and other mediator techniques.
Currently, there is no required certification to practice as a private mediator in Maryland. To mediate cases from the circuit courts, however, one must meet the requirements described in Title 17 of the Maryland Rules, which is included for your use as are the requisite application materials to be placed on circuit court mediation lists. Placement on the lists does not ensure that any cases will necessarily be referred to you. To mediate for one of the state's ten community mediation centers, one must go through that particular community mediation program's training; attached is a list of community mediation programs in Maryland.
Observation and Co-mediation. Becoming a skilled mediator requires more than training; it requires experience and feedback. After you have taken training, the next best step is observation and co-mediation with experienced mediators. Some private mediators charge for this service and some provide it without charge, while the community mediation centers include co-mediation and mentoring as part of their program.
Mediation is both an art and a science. The process is deceptively simple and straightforward. However, good mediators are highly trained, experienced and skilled. We advise interested people to have patience and to take a long-term view of developing their mediation practice.
There are no national training requirements or credentials for mediators. States vary widely in their approach to regulating mediation. There are 5 general ways that people find a mediator. Each may tell you something about the experience and training of the mediator.
- Private mediators – professionals who offer their services to the public. Maryland does not require training or certification for a private mediator.
- Court affiliated mediators – Maryland does have requirements for a court ordered/appointed mediator.
- Mediators affiliated with a mediation program – Most independent mediation programs impose their own training or experience standards on mediators.
- Mediators listed through national or state nonprofit professional organizations – There is an increasing trend toward mediator rosters and credentialing programs through national or state professional mediation organizations. These offer referral lists or directories of members. Some national mediation membership organizations set training and experience requirements and ethical standards for their practicing members.
- Mediators listed in commercial mediation directories - Many mediation referral services also impose training, experience or other requirements on mediators who wish to be included in their rosters.
Any individual mediator may fit into any or all of the above categories. Many private mediators, and most of those who work for or are associated with mediation organizations and programs, have training, experience, or both. A mediator may have a certificate of training completed. While the certificate is a confirmation that the person has successfully completed training, it does not necessarily confirm that the person has attained any level of competence.
What does certification mean?
Certification means that a certain group has set a standard and that it conducts a screening process to identify people who meet that standard. The value to the certification for your case depends on the type of group giving the certification. Currently states do not offer certification. However, many courts and some professional organizations offer rosters or referrals to people based on the individuals having met
- certain standards of education/training,
- scores on a specialized exam,
- experience in the field or
- a combination of these factors.
What about other states?
As in Maryland, most other states impose training or experience standards on mediators who practice in court-funded mediation programs. Likewise, in most states, a person can offer private mediation services without taking a class, passing a test or having a license or certification.
Currently, no state offers a statewide certification program for mediators.
What are the court ordered/appointed mediator training requirements for mediators in Maryland?
In Maryland, there is a list of mediators to which the court makes referrals. These “court registered” mediators must meet certain requirements.
Under Maryland Rule 17-104, “Court registered” mediators of non-domestic law matters must
- be at least 21 years old,
- have a college degree (unless waived by the court),
- have completed an approved 40 hour basic mediation program an, and
- be approved by the Administrative Judge of the court.
To mediate in domestic law matters and be listed by the court, a mediator must have additional training.
- To mediate in custody or visitation matters, a mediator must meet the basic requirements noted above and have completed an additional 20 hours of training in an approved program relating to child custody and visitation.
- To mediate in marital property matters, a mediator must meet the basic requirements noted above and have completed an additional 20 hours of training in an approved marital property mediation training.
What “court registered” does not mean - Being included on an approved list of mediators for a particular court does not mean that the person is an experienced mediator but only that the mediator has received the required training. Also any mediator can help you work out an agreement that you can file with the court as part of an ongoing case. “Court registered” simply means that the person is eligible to receive referral from the court.