By Charlie Irvine, Charlie Irvine
Mediation Like many of us I am constantly torn between simplicity and complexity. The world is complex: that’s a given. But a beautiful morning or a lover’s kiss is simplicity itself, and it’s a fool who overcomplicates it. And so with mediation, the profession/activity/vocation that has grown on me like a skin these last nineteen years. Each time I practise I marvel at the almost infinite nuances and layers of a three-way encounter. And yet what could be simpler than someone sitting down to help two others sort out a disagreement? I also have a lot of sympathy for learners. It doesn’t help much when ‘experts’ say “This is really complicated”. We need to start somewhere. We can’t take in every idea, nor can we acquire every skill, in one big dollop. We need simple skills which we can learn and repeat, and we need a clear framework. A good, simple framework allows us to gradually pick up all the complex, clever, difficult ideas and slot them in without confusion.
‘The Three Pillars of Mediation’ is my offering. The idea has been brewing for the last five years, since I took a Masters course in Mediation at Birkbeck College, University of London (and a special thanks to the course leader, Lorraine Schaffer). The MSc was a marvellous induction into complexity, scanning the (angloAmerican) literature on mediation, psychology, philosophy, therapy, justice and lots more. We were made to think hard about our practice, to write, discuss and chew over the novelty and oddity of this work. I have little doubt that it made us better practitioners.