Navigating the Emotional Rollercoaster of Mediation


Navigating the Emotional Rollercoaster of Mediation

In this episode, we explore the emotional journey individuals undergo during mediation sessions, tackling issues like loss of control and dealing with false accusations. Our discussion emphasizes the importance of recognizing and addressing these emotions, advocating for breaks and self-care to combat emotional exhaustion. We highlight how understanding and managing these emotions can lead to a successful mediation outcome, promoting emotional resilience and well-being throughout the process.

Listen to the Podcast, here.

[00:00] Erin Birt: Welcome to the Restorative Divorce podcast, where we focus on all things divorce and parenting related to help you find clarity, stay informed and stay out of family court. With 20 plus years of family law experience, our attorney and mediator, Erin Birt, has seen too many times how family court will negatively impact your health, your relationship with your kids and your wallet. This podcast s aims to turn that around and empower our listeners to take back control of their family law process and their lives by working with divorced professionals that seek to help and not hurt. Our goal is to provide you with expert tips that you can implement today to restore your finances, emotional well being and coparenting skills. Of course, our team at is always here to customize a restorative divorce plan for you. But for now, listen to this episode.

Mediation: Like Running a Marathon

[00:54] Erin Birt: To get help today mediation often can feel like you're running a marathon. You get into a groove at some point. It's rough at the beginning. You get into a groove where you can focus on things. You're seeing progress as being made, and at the end, things might escalate. You're realizing the finish line is approaching. You don't know if you have all your issues done. You don't know if you've got all your points out, and things tend to escalate at the end. You also start feeling exhausted. You start feeling depleted, and you start feeling like you don't know if you can make any more agreements or compromises. And that's a natural process, and it's something to focus on.

So if you need to take a break in mediation, say that, if you cannot make decisions at the end of a session, perhaps ask to table that and to come back to another session.

Mediation: Fears Coming to Pass?

But I wanted to also highlight one of the reasons you feel, or some of the reasons that you can feel exhausted and you can feel depleted, is because some of your fears might be coming to pass. You might feel that in mediation you have a certain amount of loss of control. Perhaps during your relationship, you felt that you were making all the decisions for your children, and why should that just not continue post separation? And you might feel there's a loss of control over your child's life or their upbringing because you now have a co parent that you have to factor in, that maybe they weren't so present, or maybe they relied on you to make certain decisions, but now their input has a certain amount of weight, and you need to consider that.

Mediation: False Accusations?

You also might feel that there's false accusations in mediation. We can talk about things that might not be relevant in court or might not be appropriate for a judge to hear. But in mediation, there might be a need to talk about some things in the past or some feelings attached to events that happened in the past, because it gives context for why you want something to either change or why you want something to happen in the future. And so you might hear things, and you might feel like you're being falsely accused of certain behaviors, of adultery, of alcoholism or addiction, or treating your child in a manner that isn't appropriate. And it's hard to hear those things, and it's hard not to react.

Mediation: Legal Process Looming?

You also might feel depleted and you might feel tired at the end of mediation because the legal process is maybe looming. It's always there, or at least you're learning that there's still another step, and you need to have a legal process confirm the agreements reached in mediation or help you with anything that wasn't agreed to in mediation. And so I just want to impress upon our listeners today that mediation is a great process that you can custom tailor, and you can talk about things that can give you a more comprehensive agreement than you might get in a lengthy court battle. But you're going to face some difficult conversations, and you're going to hear difficult things. And those false accusations, the loss of control, or that looming legal process can really disrupt your emotions.

And you might behave in a way that you wouldn't otherwise by lashing out, raising your voice, calling the other person names, in mediation. And I just want to say that before that happens, know that it's a natural part of the process.

But you can take a break, and taking a break is always the best option. If you feel that you're depleted, that you can't make a decision and that it's overwhelming, you will be able to regroup and have a much better meeting than if you just continued and plowed through your current meeting. So while I recognize that mediation can help a lot of families, I also recognize that it's emotionally taxing and tolling on people. And so that's why I'm highlighting that today, just to raise your awareness that it is common. It doesn't mean that that's how you behave in all situations. And that escalation at the end of mediation can happen to a lot of people. But just try to remember through that difficult time that maybe we can have another session when emotions are more calm and you realize there's a process to this.

So I just wanted to highlight that today for anybody, if that helps somebody out there when they're facing, oh, is this a legal battle, or can mediation help me think about the benefits of direct communication, but also think of self care, and think of how you can prepare yourself, both document wise and emotionally wise, for mediation, and then you will have a successful mediation.

Tyle Birt: That's good.

Erin Birt: Tyler, do you have anything to add for this month, or.

Tyler Birt: That's all I had today. I really wanted to cover some new announcements and cover some things that are going on in mediation that might help others, especially now that the holidays are around the bend. We'll be seeing more mediation of holiday schedules or vacation schedules as we're approaching breaks for children from school. And so it was important to me to talk about mediation today, because I think that that will be used by a lot of people in the coming weeks as we approach the holiday season.

Mediation: Holidays

[07:14] Erin Birt: Well, you kind of hit it right on the head. The only thing I would say is that this is the holiday season, and the holiday season is very trying time for families, especially in these situations. And so self care is very important. A lot of people just want to put things aside and not handle things until after the holidays or after this happens or after that happens. And self care is very important during these times, and you can do more than one thing at a time. But taking a break, like you said, is always an option when you're going through these. And our office is here to help guide people. And you, obviously, in your capacity, are able and willing to help people figure out the holidays, because it's a very, like I said, stressful time, especially when you have families of different religions and things like that. It can be very trying and taxing on individuals and starting new traditions. Right. You might have had a certain way that you did things before, and it's hard to sometimes let go of what you thought was always going to be how your children would experience holidays, but it's going to be different.

Mediation: Self Care

But your children get to make all those different memories. It can be very challenging to realize, if I have the children, I might need some new traditions. If I don't have the children, I need some new traditions. And so when we talk about self care, there's many different ways for that. If you rely on friends for support, family members for support, maybe lean into them a little harder this season, they'll understand. If you work with any professionals, maybe a few extra appointments would be helpful, if that's possible. Going for a walk, being involved in any activities that you might like to do or can't do. If you have the children, maybe this is an opportunity to take that weekend when you have time just for yourself and do an activity that you might not otherwise do when you're parenting.

So there's many different layers of self care, but especially through mediation, through the holiday season, really focus on taking care of yourself first.

So next month we will have another complimentary gathering. We are going to meet the second Wednesday of the month. If you would like to join us again, just let us know. We will send you the link. If you ever have any follow up questions, we'd be happy to cover them at another complimentary gathering. But if there is no other questions coming in or no other topics to discuss for today, I think we will end at this time. All right, everybody, be well and have a good Thanksgiving. Take care.

[10:41] Tyler Birt: Take care.

[10:47] Erin Birt: Thanks for listening to the restorative divorce podcast with your hosts, attorney and mediator Erin Birt and our paralegal Tyler Birt. A special thanks to our contributors and to the authors of the many articles that inspire us and keep our clients informed. We hope you enjoyed our deep dive into the separation, divorce, or parenting tips covered today that you can use now to help restore yourself if you strive to improve your life or the lives of your children after a separation or divorce. Join us next week when we will cover more restorative divorce topics. You can head over to to get the podcast transcripts, follow us on social media, and even find more valuable family law information, all for your benefit. Get help today and work with us one on one. Contact us to set up a consultation or planning session to start rebuilding your life today. Enjoy this day and we'll see you next time.

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  • Erin Birt

    Since 2003, Erin N. Birt, J.D., CADC has focused her practice on pa...

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