When THERAPY has not worked.. can MEDIATION?

I have frequently asked (myself) this question when I am mediating disputes between family members regarding money or estate matters.


What starts as a seemingly legitimate fight over 'something' .. quickly turns to what happened 30 years ago.


It becomes clear that what brought the dispute to mediation, is not the only reason for the disagreement now.  


Managing real estate, planning for aging parents care and needs or dividing assets, can lead to firmly planted feet on the ground with no intention on budging, with the exception being, toward a court room.


Knowing full well I run the risk of being mistakenly interpreted as me ‘trash talking’ therapy, I’m going to throw this out there anyway… 


                                   is therapy the best way to resolve family disagreements?


Some people look to therapy to help them understand things that happened in the past in order to resolve current issues.  The idea is to uncover the deeply set feelings and emotions, then deal with them appropriately.


While I do believe there are times when looking to the past to resolve current conflict or disagreements might be beneficial, there are many situations with adult siblings and family members where therapy is not a realistic approach to resolving family conflict. Often It's just not possible to convince adult family members to go to therapy. 


While some people are perfectly comfortable with the idea of therapy, there are just as many who take the suggestion of ‘therapy’ as a nasty dig by someone suggesting the disagreement is all their fault or therapy would be intended to ‘fix’ the one who is "obviously" wrong.  


Unlike therapy, mediation looks to the here and now and is often what many conflicts need in order to manage 'family business' together. 

If you find yourself ‘stuck’ in family relationships or 'family business' that seems to consistently go back to events in the past that cannot be ‘un-done’, maybe it’s time to call a truce and agree to resolve the problem through mediation.


Moving forward cannot happen... when you are still looking behind you.


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