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  • Se'Lena Wingfield, Ph.D.

Balancing Act: Emotional Self-Regulation in Mediation

Some potential challenges that may arise when expressing one’s needs during divorce mediation include:

1. Emotional obstacles: Divorce is an emotionally charged process, and it can be challenging to express one’s needs calmly and rationally. Emotions such as anger, sadness, and resentment may cloud communication.

2. Power imbalances: There may be a power imbalance between the spouses, with one party feeling intimidated or pressured. This can make it difficult for them to assert their needs effectively.

3. Miscommunication: Poor communication can lead to misunderstandings and misinterpretations of each party’s needs. Differences in communication styles and strategies can hinder effective expression of needs.

To overcome these challenges, the following strategies can be helpful:

1. Emotional self-regulation: Both parties should work on managing their emotions during mediation sessions. Taking breaks, practicing relaxation techniques, or seeking support from therapists can help regulate emotions and promote clearer communication.

2. Open and respectful dialogue: Mediation is most effective when both parties actively listen and respect each other’s perspectives. Encouraging open and respectful dialogue creates a safe space for expressing needs.

3. Active listening: Both parties should practice active listening, where they focus on understanding the other person’s perspective, rather than just waiting for their turn to speak. This helps in clarifying needs effectively.

4. Use “I” statements: Instead of blaming or accusing the other party, using “I” statements can be more effective in expressing needs. For example, saying “I feel unsupported when...” rather than “You never support me.”

5. Seek professional guidance: Mediators can help navigate power imbalances and facilitate effective communication between the parties.

Remember, effective communication takes practice and patience. Our virtual mediation can create an environment where both parties feel comfortable expressing their needs so that a mutually acceptable agreement can be reached.

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