Psychotherapy and mediation: similarities and differences
That mediation is not therapy is known, although both have aspects in common. In the following lines we will see exactly what they are the similarities and differences between group psychotherapy and mediation , and the way in which these two disciplines help us face everyday problems.
- Related article: "Types of psychological therapies"
The similarities between mediation and psychotherapy
To have a better understanding of the aspects that differentiate both disciplines, it is necessary to consider their common aspects. Thus, taking as a reference the treatment of family conflict, there would be two levels of intervention: family therapy and family mediation . In each of them, the role of the professional (psychotherapist and mediator) is to facilitate communication. Each of these contexts develops its particular process of intervention.
At first glance, both when we intervene in family therapy and when we intervene in family mediation, we are working with part or all of the members of the family group, with which a priori seems to share the same objective: promote the welfare of its members . Each of these interventions is carried out in a confidentiality framework and employs a set of techniques and tools to achieve its objectives.
Adjusting a little more the look, the therapeutic approach (therapy or family psychotherapy), addresses two fundamental questions: the treatment of emotional disorders . He works with a primary natural group, the family, and in this area of intervention, the family is seen as an "all-system". According to this, its objective would be to restore health and create a new way of conceptualizing the relationship with the environment .
On the other hand, the mediational approach addresses the voluntary conflict management procedure , in which the parties request the intervention of a mediator, which must be professional, impartial, objective and neutral. He works with groups of people without the capacity to freely make decisions about how to relate to the rest of the group, and intervenes with all or some members of the family, depending on the type of conflict.
- Maybe you're interested: "Group therapy: history, types and phases"
What aspects mark the difference between therapy and mediation? Let's see them
1. Different objectives
The therapy has as a specific objective the improvement of health, favoring psychological well-being and contributing to the improvement of relationships. Mediation seeks to improve communication , favoring the resolution of differences generating solutions to the same, and reaching an agreement between the parties in conflict. And in turn, without being considered among its objectives, mediation has a "therapeutic effect", from the moment in which emotional expression and management is facilitated.
In the process of mediation, the mediator intervenes by managing the emotions, so that they do not interfere with communication, thus favoring the search for alternatives and solutions that may culminate in an agreement reached by the parties in conflict. From the moment in the mediation process we favor emotional relief , we are facilitating a "therapeutic effect" in people. But this is not the ultimate goal of this type of intervention.
On the other hand, mediation is a structured process, a priori focused on a task: find the solution to a series of aspects in dispute, agree on an agreement in the form of a written document. This document can reach a "legal" or "quasi-legal" nature, resolving and reaching legal and emotional agreements.
In mediation we work with people, with their relationship, with their problem . This leads us to consider an open and fluid intervention structure, in which flexibility is the sustaining axis of the process, thus facilitating the work of emotions and feelings, its aeration, and identification, allowing the definition of the problem and a more adequate understanding of the psychological conflict .
2. The information with which you work
Another differentiating aspect between both interventions is the amount of information to be collected. In therapy, it is essential to gather information about the patient's current and past data and / or the relationship (clinical or family history). In mediation only the information referred to the conflict is collected. Excess information is considered to affect impartiality and objectivity of the mediation professional.
- Maybe you're interested: "The 11 types of conflicts and how to solve them"
3. The importance of impartiality
The role of the psychologist-mediator is based on carrying out his know-how, achieving balance between the conflicting parties , and for this, it is crucial that they perceive it as objective, neutral and impartial, leading the mediation process, facilitating communication between them and favoring communication channels.
The role of psychologist-therapist is based on the analysis of behavior, offering guidelines and alternatives, seeking to restore health and psychological well-being. Normally you do not need to take so many precautions to not seem biased towards one of the "sides".
Family mediation is an opportunity to face family conflicts, in which the parties voluntarily pursue the search for solutions to their conflict, resolving it through dialogue and communication; and assuming the responsibility of resolving their differences by reaching an agreement that they agree to comply with.
The mediator task facilitates a helping relationship that encourages the expression of emotions and feelings . In addition, it helps to clarify the needs of the parties in conflict, helping them to distance themselves from the problem and focusing them towards the solution. Mediation offers you the opportunity to experience and nurture the healthy components of the relationship.
The figure of the psychologist-mediator, is configured with a training that allows him to act in both areas , marking in each case the need to intervene in one context or another according to the need of the case.
Thus, it will manage the referral to therapy taking into account the interest of the parties or the objectives they intend to achieve in the process. It will focus the "rules of the game" to be followed in the intervention, refraining from inducing any result not contemplated in the feeling or will of the parties.
Luisa Pérez, Psychology and Mediation