Mediator-in-Training Internship Experience
Written by: Sari Goldman, MSW, RSW, AccFM
Having completed all required course work through Riverdale Mediation, there was no question I hoped for an internship with the organization. Through the courses I realized how aligned my background and interests were with Riverdale, especially with my background in mental health and intimate partner violence. As a front-line social worker with over 15 years experience in these two areas, I was inspired to learn from such a high calibre group of legal and mental health professionals in the field of mediation.
My internship with Riverdale Mediation was equally insightful and meaningful. Through hands on training experience, each mediation file was supervised and co mediated with an expertly trained accredited mediator. Whether the mediator came from a family law background, social work background, or other profession, all training was performed in a personal and professional approach.
The expectations for interns through this program were competitive. Throughout the training (60 hours observation and 40 hours co mediation) supervisors made effort to connect with interns, discuss the file, explore options for approaching the complexities of each intake, and would continually check in with the intern to ensure collaboration was an integral part of the process. As an intern, responsible for engaging in the process from intake/ assessment through to mediation and writing MOU’s, I found the experience overall to be engaging and supportive.
- How well did your training equip you for the role of MIT:
The training was comprehensive, thorough and all very relevant for the internship experience and in the eventual role of mediator. The expert trainers were personable, patient with questions, encouraging of participation and were all engaging, even when the training was pivoted online.
- What aspects of the MIT experience did you most enjoy:
I most enjoyed the observation period of the MIT process. I so enjoyed learning from different mediators, with their varying backgrounds and individual styles.
- How well prepared to you feel you are to take on mediation files after the MIT experience?
As a new mediator, I am still nervous and am building confidence achieving final agreements . I am very comfortable with intakes and power imbalance assessments; I believe this is an essential skill for professionals in the field of family mediation. As a trained IPV and family social worker, I feel the training offered in the realm of IPV and domestic violence is excellent and could be a useful training for other professionals as well.
- What part of mediation practice would you like to see better addressed in a MIT program?
Coming from a clinical mental health background and not a legal background, I was overwhelmed and at times intimidated by the court process. It was helpful to spend some of my observation hours on-site at 393 and Jarvis to become more familiar with the family court process, proceedings, meet Duty Counsel and spend time at the MAG. These hours were invaluable and personally more experience/ exposure to these specific opportunities would have been helpful for greater understanding.
- Any other comments, thoughts, experiences you want to share:
It took me about two years to complete both my course work and MIT program. I am grateful to this program for allowing me to balance full time work, parenting and this endeavour. I found it incredibly difficult to schedule mediations and thereby block of personal work hours, at times the mediations or intakes booked would be cancelled last minute, which is understandable, but made personal professional obligations more challenging.
Sari Goldman, M.S.W., R.S.W., Acc.FM