The Emotional Side of Mediation: Managing Stress and Building Trust During the Process

When people typically think about divorce, the image that comes to mind is animosity and court drama. What many don’t know is that divorce doesn’t have to follow this storyline. In fact, as our experienced North Carolina divorce attorneys can attest, many couples are opting for mediation in an attempt to reduce drama, lower costs, and try to preserve their relationship to the extent possible. 

While mediation is not always the path to perfect harmony in a divorce, it can be better for everyone than the traditional divorce case. The key is to manage your stress and build trust. We’ll provide some tips on how to accomplish that here.

How Mediators Create a Safe Environment 

The divorce mediator is a neutral party that holds space for both spouses to come to an agreement on things like child custody, support obligations, and property division. Naturally, these discussions can stir up a range of emotions, like sadness, anger, resentment, and anxiety. A skilled mediator will be mindful of the emotional tone of discussions and hold space for both parties to be heard so that they may better understand each others’ position, which can help lead to a quicker divorce settlement that addresses the true needs of both parties.

The mediator’s key role is to create a setting in which both spouses feel comfortable. They do this by maintaining neutrality, confidentiality, and respect for both parties’ feelings and perspectives. This can manifest in the form of ground rules carefully laid out beforehand, a calm and nonjudgmental demeanor, and the awareness of power imbalances or high emotions. It can also be shown through active listening and helping interpret needs and restate them in a manner that the other party may be more receptive to.

How You Can Manage Your Emotions During Mediation

While the mediator bears some responsibility for what happens under their watch, it is you who has the most control over how you react and respond during your divorce mediation. Here are some recommendations for keeping your cool during your divorce:

  • Ground yourself. Before each mediation session, take time to center yourself through meditation and breathwork. This will help you be more aware of your emotional state and provide space for you to respond, rather than react.
  • Acknowledge your emotions. Recognize and accept your feelings without judgment. It’s natural to feel a range of emotions during mediation. Acknowledging them can help you manage them more effectively rather than letting them control the dialogue​.
  • Use “I” Statements. Communicate your feelings and needs by speaking from your perspective, using statements like “I feel” or “I need.” This approach reduces defensiveness and promotes a more open and respectful communication.
  • Focus on the big picture. Keep your ultimate goals in mind. Reminding yourself of what you truly want to achieve can help you stay focused on solutions rather than getting bogged down by emotional reactions
  • Take breaks when needed. If emotions start to overwhelm the discussion, don’t hesitate to ask for a brief break. Taking a moment to regroup can prevent emotions from escalating and keep the mediation on track.
  • Seek support. Consider talking to a therapist or support group about your feelings during the mediation process. External support can provide a valuable outlet for your emotions and offer strategies for coping.

By implementing these strategies, you can play an active role in managing your emotions during divorce mediation.

Seek Counsel From an Experienced Divorce Attorney

If you are thinking about a divorce, it’s best to have all the facts around what comes next. Our experienced family law attorneys can help guide you through the process and help you determine whether divorce mediation is right for your situation. Contact us today for a consult.