The Path to Becoming a Volunteer Mediator

The Mediation Center of Dutchess County practices, trains, and apprentices in the style of transformative mediation. This approach informs our commitment to empowering community members to effectively transform conflict into conversation. Through a rigorous process of training, guided apprenticeship, and practical applications of learning, our volunteers achieve mastery before becoming certified to support community mediation. 

To become a volunteer, interested parties first attend an orientation session on transformative mediation, training, and apprenticeship overview. In total, our two-part process of active participation and learning begins with a minimum 30-hour initial training with a New York State Office of Court Administration certified trainer. A formal apprenticeship with a mentor and cohort will commence after the training. This stage typically lasts between 6 and 9 months. We’re grateful for the significant investments of time and energy that volunteer mediators make.

At this time, MCDC is not training new volunteers. This overview is for reference and future consideration purposes, only. We don’t yet have a timeline for when training will begin again and won’t be able to respond to any inquiries on this.  You can sign up for our newsletter here to watch for updates and announcements on upcoming orientation sessions.

Connect and Consider

To get started, potential volunteers sign up for an orientation session. During that session,  we’ll overview the process and address any questions you may have. The informal conversation will help both parties decide if they want to proceed.

Complete Initial Mediation Training

When trainings are available, prospective volunteers attend these multi-day sessions to learn foundational concepts and practices of transformative mediation. Led by a New York State Office of Court Administration certified trainer, these sessions equip volunteers with tools to become neutral, supportive facilitators.

Collaborative Learning Apprenticeship

Cohort Kick-Off

After successfully completing the initial training, accepted apprentices attend a cohort kick-off where they’ll meet MCDC staff, mentors, and overview the apprenticeship program. This initial session will introduce accepted apprentices to policies and procedures.

Initial Video Role Play

Accepted apprentices will then be asked to mediate a mock case, which will be filmed for review. The apprentice and their mentor will separately complete an assessment. With their mentor, they’ll review the assessment, watch the recording and tailor their training, objectives, and goals. This video serves as a baseline for their progress throughout the program. 

Observation

Apprentices will observe their mentor mediating at least three live cases. After observing these sessions, apprentices and mentors will debrief to incorporate critical components.

Co-Mediation

Working with mentors, apprentices will actively co-mediate at least 5 small claims cases. Throughout these sessions, mentors will provide guidance and feedback.

Mid-Point Written Assessment

Half-way through the apprenticeship stage, mentors will complete a written assessment of the apprentice, reflecting on their learning. This moment also provides an opportunity for apprentices and mentors to check-in on their experiences and the process. 

Final Video Role Play

Apprentices will mediate a mock case, which will again be filmed for review. 

Final Assessment

Based on the final video role play recording, mentors and apprentices will complete a final written assessment of the apprentice’s facilitation. Reviewing those assessments, the mentor will make a recommendation to MCDC regarding certification. 

If the apprentice is approved by MCDC staff and the mentor, they will be certified. At this phase, certified mediators become eligible to mediate small claims cases as well as non-family and community disputes.

Continue as an Active Mediator

Once volunteer mediators are certified, they must continue learning and serving. As guided by the Office of Court Administration, mediators must complete six hours of continuing education per year and mediate a minimum of 3 cases per year. As a volunteer mediator, you’ll get access to invitation-only advanced trainings. These might include topics like custody and visitation, special education, and more.

Our corps of active and enduring mediators make a meaningful difference in our community. We’re grateful for their mediating 97% of cases, generously sharing their time and skills to help transform conflict into conversation. 

As a Community Dispute Resolution Center operating in New York State, this process follows Office of Court Administration requirements for volunteer mediators. CDRC volunteers are expected to follow the New York State Unified Court System standards of conduct as outlined here.