In addition to the legal support and legal advice she provides, Monique Spee also focuses on conflict resolution and, wherever possible, conflict prevention. Alongside her career as a practising lawyer, Monique Spee is a qualified conflict mediator and is registered with the MfN (Dutch mediation federation). In this capacity, she brings parties in a labour or business dispute together by developing tailored solutions quickly.
What is mediation?
If a problem, whether private or business-related, arises between people or organizations and the conflicting parties are unable to agree on a solution, then mediation is one option to resolve the conflict. This is a far less radical step than taking someone to court. Mediation can also save time and money, as a mediation process is extremely quick and therefore less costly. During mediation, the conflicting parties must work towards achieving a solution on the basis of underlying common interests. The mediator provides expert support in this process. Mediation often leads to a solution.
What does a mediator do?
The mediator has been trained to facilitate negotiations which focus on common interests and not on individual views. He/she has also been equipped with certain techniques that serve to highlight these interests as well as any underlying issues which may hinder the mediation process. The mediator remains impartial and independent; his/her role is to help the parties find a solution. Both parties must trust and have confidence in the mediator.
Drawing up agreements made during mediation
Participating in mediation is optional but not free of obligation: parties must want to work towards a solution together. Everyone involved in the mediation must treat any information during the negotiations with the utmost confidentiality. The final agreements are made in writing in an agreement.
Mediation with horses
Given her passion for horses and her belief in conflict resolution through mediation, Monique Spee can, if requested, organize a special form of mediation alongside ‘normal mediation’ in the form of ‘mediation with horses’. This mediation is carried out in collaboration with the experienced and certified horse trainer Therese Corbeij from Marengo Training & Coaching (http://www.marengotrainingen.nl).
As already mentioned, this mediation involves cataloguing the parties’ underlying interests and also removing any underlying obstructions, such as negative feelings, beliefs, annoyances, or old wounds which lead parties to consider litigation, as they believe the conflict cannot be resolved.
Horses reflect the conscious and unconscious signs we give off and do not react to rational thought processes. If during a mediation between an employer and an employee, for instance, one party ‘thinks’ that he/she would like to have a supervisory position but ‘deep down’ is still reluctant to take on this role, then the horse will react to this reluctance or fear. The horse will then reflect this fear or unease in its behaviour, which the horse trainer interprets to the conflicting parties in order to provide them with insight into the cause of the situation. The origin of the feeling of unease then comes to light, enabling parties to take concrete steps in the direction they are pursuing. This in turn creates a positive atmosphere and generates understanding in each other’s underlying interests and feelings, and also uncovers any obstructions that previously prevented the parties from identifying a solution to the problem.
During this horse mediation session, the horse also shows where and/or around whom the greatest amount of ‘energy’ is concentrated, without passing a positive or negative judgement. The horse trainer and mediator facilitate the whole process without too much dialogue. By observing the horse’s behaviour and following the energy, the parties gain insight, whether conscious or unconscious, into the situation. This gives the parties the opportunity and freedom to look at and deal with the situation differently, providing room for a resolution to the conflict.
Mediation with horses is an effective way of getting to the root of the problem, as horses reveal the situation and attitudes of the parties in an impartial way. This often serves as confirmation to the parties of what they ‘knew’ all along. Whilst this is most often seen as confrontational, it is an effective way of reaching solutions.
Quality assurance/MfN (Dutch federation of mediators)
You will be able to find more information about mediation via the ‘Stichting Kwaliteit Mediators’ (the Dutch regulatory foundation for mediators), which is part of the MfN.
Each mediator registered with the MfN carries out his/her activities according to the rules stipulated in the MfN Mediation Regulations. These regulations set out the basic principles of mediation, such as voluntariness, privacy, and confidentiality. Click here to download the regulations.