Promoting the choice to mediate

Recommended Guidelines

Ethics & Standards of Conduct

On June 6, 2008, the Pennsylvania Council of Mediators Board of Directors endorsed the "Model Standards of Conduct for Mediators" which was adopted by the American Arbitration Association, the American Bar Association, and the Association for Conflict Resolution in 2005.

In addition to the Model Standards Conduct for Mediators‚ Standard V - Confidentiality provisions, Pennsylvania mediators must follow the Confidential Mediation Communications and Documents Act (Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, Title 42, Section 5949), which establishes mediation confidentiality and exclusions to confidentiality.

Additional information on ethics and standards of conduct can be found online:

Best Practices for Basic Mediation

  1. Knowledge base
    1. Acquire sufficient subject knowledge to facilitate communication, develop and explore options and consequences, and make parties aware of any information relevant to their decision making.
    2. Be knowledgeable of available community resources and referral sources.
  2. Ethical standards
    1. Adherence to ethical standards as established by PCM.
    2. Be familiar with commonly encountered ethical dilemmas.
  3. Conduct of the mediator
    1. Identify and separate personal values from issues under consideration.
    2. Maintain a calm presence.
    3. Be flexible.
    4. Use clear language in speaking and writing.
    5. When co-mediating, keep the other mediator(s) informed of developments essential to an effective collaborative effort.
  4. Treatment of participants
    1. Demonstrate respect for all participants.
    2. Be aware of and sensitive to parties' values, gender, ethnic, cultural and lifestyle differences.
  5. Undertaking the process
    1. Demonstrate respect for the process.
    2. Explain the mediation process to the parties, including:
      • The role of the mediator
      • The parties' options within the process
      • Confidentiality
      • The possibility of separate sessions (caucuses)
    3. Determine that all the appropriate parties are present for the mediation.
    4. Determine if the presence of other persons and/or counsel for one or more parties will benefit the mediation process, and accept any other person(s) and/or counsel to be present if all parties agree.
    5. Explain that the mediator or any party may terminate the mediation at any time.
    6. Explain alternative processes potentially available to resolve disputes.
    7. Screen for the appropriateness of the parties to participate in mediation (i.e. abuse, potential for violence, substance abuse & mental health issues).
    8. Offer the parties the option of undertaking the mediation with the mediator, or selecting another mediator.
    9. Secure verbal or written agreement to mediate.
    10. Encourage the parties, where appropriate, to seek other professional advice before, during and after the mediation process.
  6. During the process
    1. Facilitate a process for participants to determine their own appropriate decisions, including creative options.
    2. Provide each participant a full opportunity to effectively express his or her interests.
    3. Promote active listening to all sides of a situation.
    4. Assist parties in exploring complex and sometimes contradictory information.
    5. Encourage the disclosure of all appropriate information to ensure that the parties make decisions based on sufficient knowledge.
    6. Manage power imbalances.
    7. Defuse any manipulative or intimidating negotiating techniques used by any of the parties.
    8. Separate mediatable and non-mediatable issues.
    9. Recognize when it is appropriate to raise the option of therapy as an adjunctive or preferable method for dealing with issues.
  7. Closing the process
    1. Terminate the mediation when the mediator reasonably believes that the case is inappropriate for mediation or that continued participation wills not further the parties' self-determination.
    2. Assist the parties in formalizing any agreed upon and/or understandings.
    3. Assist parties in assessing whether their agreements can be implemented.
    4. Solicit evaluative feedback from all participants.