Alice Sanderlin is an advocate for conflict resolution and restorative practices. She is a Rule 31 listed civil mediator of alternative dispute resolution for parties who want to settle their grievances privately and respectfully.
Mediation is a process in which participants settle their conflicts with the help of a trained and impartial mediator. The mediator helps parties communicate safely and respectfully, so they are able to express important needs and interests, openly communicate their grievances, and develop mutally, lasting agreements.
From the Tennessee Association of Professional Mediators (TAPM):
WHAT DOES A MEDIATOR DO?
The mediator is not a judge and does not make a decision or impose a solution on the dispute. Rather, the mediator helps those involved in the dispute talk to each other, thereby allowing them to resolve the dispute themselves. The mediator manages the mediation session and remains impartial.
HOW DOES MEDIATION WORK?
At the mediation session each person involved in the dispute presents a summary of his or her point of view. The mediator will meet with everyone together and may also meet individually with each side. This offers participants the opportunity to communicate to the mediator their real interests in the dispute as well as to vent frustrations outside the presence of the opposing side. The mediator will work with each person until an agreement is reached that is acceptable to everyone. The agreement is put in writing and signed by the people involved, with the advice of their attorneys.
HOW LONG DOES MEDIATION TAKE?
The time required for mediation varies. It depends on the complexity of the issues and the concerns of the people involved. It may be necessary to meet with the mediator more than once.
Mediations are scheduled in 4 hour blocks of time.