It took me a long time to realize that I was meant to be a family conflict and divorce mediator.
I worked with difficult kids who were faced with tremendous obstacles and dealt a poor hand in the game of life. I loved helping these kids find the best in themselves and learned that I was great at de-escalating kids and helping them problem solve. I went to graduate school for social work in 1999 and upon graduation I sought and secured a job as a Program Director of a residential treatment program and special education school for adolescent girls.
It is here that I truly cut my teeth and learned to navigate exceptionally stressful and conflict-ridden circumstances. There was much that I loved about the work, not the least of which was helping a group of people with very different interests come to consensus. It was common, for example, for me to facilitate a case conference with a parent, student, state social worker, state attorney, public school special educator, probation officer, and the program teacher and clinician – and help this motley group find common ground and move forward to truly meet the best interests of the student and her family.
I had long been intrigued by the mediation profession. The more I considered learning about mediation the more I realized that I was already working as a de facto mediator. Finally, after several years working as an Adjustment Counselor at a local high school, a mediator friend encouraged and persuaded me to attend an introductory 40 hour class.