What can you do to up your game and become a sought after collaborative facilitator? This article provides five suggestions for aspiring and experienced collaborative facilitators/neutral mental health professionals/coaches.
Strong teams need a strong leader. Though clients are responsible for their outcome, it is the professionals who are responsible for the process. The team will be looking to you to help ensure that the process moves forward efficiently and effectively. During meetings, you should serve as a timekeeper to keep everyone on track. Between meetings, reach out to the attorneys and clients to make sure they are following through with their action items and commitments. If the case is languishing, convene a professionals’ call or meeting to find out how to get it back on the rails.
NETWORK WITH COLLABORATIVE COLLEAGUES
Referrals to serve as a collaborative facilitator do not fall from the trees! It is essential that you reach out and get to know the collaborative attorneys and financial professionals in your area and learn about their practices. One excellent way to network is by joining the collaborative practice group(s) in your city and becoming actively involved. Attend the meetings and serve on committees. Another great approach is to invite attorneys out to lunch to develop a personal relationship from which referrals may generate.
DO NOT BE AFRAID TO PROVIDE FEEDBACK TO ATTORNEYS
One refrain that we hear from neutral facilitators (and neutral financial professionals) all of the time is that they do not feel comfortable providing feedback to the attorneys. Facilitators tend to put a premium on relationships, and they do not want to hurt the attorneys’ feelings. Further, there can be a power dynamic in play, as most collaborative cases originate from attorneys. Facilitators tend to be concerned that if the attorney takes feedback the wrong way, the neutral professional will not be invited back to participate in future collaborative cases. Ask permission to provide feedback, and you will find that most attorneys will gladly listen. They understand that collaborative work requires different skillsets than traditional divorce work, and most attorneys want to learn how to improve on those skill sets.
TAKE A 40-HOUR MEDIATION COURSE
Collaborative practice and mediation are two sides of the same coin. They both are a form of private dispute resolution boosted by interest-based negotiations. Though an Introductory Collaborative Training is an excellent forum for learning to work on an interdisciplinary team, the length of the 40-hour mediation course gives plenty of time to practice interest-based negotiation skills. Those skills are easily transferable to the collaborative setting. Besides, the mediation course fulfills paragraph 3.4 of the IACP Minimum Standards for Collaborative Practitioners (Adopted July 13, 2004; Revised October 22, 2014), which calls for “[a]t least one thirty hour training client-centered, facilitative conflict resolution, of the kind typically taught in mediation training.” Additionally, the mediation course is likely to be a requirement to become certified as a collaborative professional in the State of Florida.
OFFER A CONSULTATION
Currently, most collaborative cases start in attorneys’ offices, but it does not need to be that way. It is so important for you as a facilitator to let everyone know that you help people who are going through divorce. Further, it is always a great idea to have a website that lists your family law services (whether collaborative practice, mediation, parenting coordination, etc.) so that you can be found online. No matter how you are found, you should offer a consultation so you and the client(s) can determine the role in which you would be most helpful. This may lead to you generating collaborative cases, and being able to refer to attorneys. Attorneys will remember this, and think of you the next time they are beginning a collaborative case.
Authored by the Tampa Bay Collaborative Trainers: Adam B. Cordover, J.D., M.A.; Kristin DiMeo, CPA, ABV; Jeremy Gaies, Psy.D.; Barbara Kelly, Ph.D.; and J. David Harper, CPA, ABV, PFS, CFF, CBA, CVA.
Tampa Bay Collaborative Trainers offer a customized two-day introductory training in the one coach/neutral facilitator/neutral mental health professional model at a low-risk cost structure that will help you build a vibrant collaborative community. We now also have advanced offerings! Learn more and find out about upcoming trainings at http://TampaBayCollaborativeTrainers.com.