On 22nd September, the IDRC London hosted the first AMATI conference for mediation trainers and assessors from around the world. Some 40 delegates from the UK, Ireland, Italy, Germany, Greece, the Netherlands, Russia, Romania, the USA and Australia affirmed their belief that training in mediation requires an exchange and sharing of ideas, best practice, modern developments and new approaches to deal with the problems of stagnation, training at too basic a level, training too many mediators and inadequate assessment methodology commonly afflicting all these jurisdictions.
Professor Andrew Goodman introduced the theme of the conference, the Future of Mediation Training, and Professor Elizabeth Stokoe, Loughborough University gave a research paper positing the need to reduce reliance on role play in mediation training. Amanda Bucklow advanced the need for change, and produced her facilit8 model to delegates as a working example of sophisticated advanced training.
Dr Paul Gibson had travelled from Sydney, Australia and brought a traditional Aboriginal message stick. His insight into the problems faced in Australia by poor mediation training standards was a welcome reminder why AMATI was created.
Juanita Wijnands, an inter-cultural specialist from the Netherlands began the afternoon session with an interactive presentation highlighting how cultural differences can impede collaborative working. Juanita was followed by Irena Vanenkova, Executive Director of the International Mediation Institute who gave the IMI’s view of training standards across the globe, mediation from a user’s perspective, and the new IMI programme designed to provide minimum training standards on an advisory basis. Nicoleta Munteanu ended the first afternoon session with a talk on the institutional mediation training in Romania.
Following a short break, Linka Reijerkerk, the pre-eminent Dutch mediation trainer, led the delegates in an interactive group discussion on the assessment of mediator candidates, afterwards joined live from New York via video link by Professor Hal Abramson who was able to expand on the points and ideas raised during the discussion.
A review and discussion panel led by well-known trainer Thomas Valenti from Chicago, Gerry Rooney, President of the Mediation Institute of Ireland, and Antonia Marsaglia from Italy provided delegates the opportunity to further discus all of the topics from the day.
Dr Greg Bond, of the Technical University of Wildau, Berlin, gave a summary of the day’s proceedings.
At the close of the conference an open inaugural AMATI Advisory Board meeting considered what the core activities of the new association should be, and the order of priority in dealing with a number of suggested programmes including collating and publishing international training requirements and assessments, creating aspirational assessment methodologies, establishing member networks to trial techniques and ideas in a ‘greenleaf’ project, and to create a forum for inclusive discussion.