First-time mediator stories

Keys to better training and mediator preparation


  • Cathia A. Moon Kennesaw State University
  • Susan S. Raines Kennesaw State University
  • Laffon Brelland Jr Kennesaw State University



mediation training, mediation trainers, first-time mediation, mediator preparation


How can mediation trainers and programme directors ensure that mediators are ready for their first solo case? This study utilised an online survey of forty-one mediators across case types to learn from their first mediation experiences; we asked them to reflect on how it felt to mediate for the first time and the ways in which their training had (or had not) prepared them to succeed. We found that more mediators used negative descriptors than positive ones to describe their initial mediation experience, yet nearly all claimed to have enjoyed mediation training. Study participants voiced a desire for more observations and co-mediation of real cases, or short of that, more role-play practice to prepare them for mediation. This study shares their narratives, analyses their feedback for mediation trainers, and helps to normalise the nervousness felt by most mediators during their first (and subsequent) cases.

Author Biographies

Cathia A. Moon, Kennesaw State University

Cathia A. Moon is a PhD student in the international conflict management programme at Kennesaw State University School of Conflict Management, Peacebuilding, and Development. She earned an MS in conflict management from Kennesaw State University and an MS in criminal justice from Valdosta State University. Research interests include mediation, global development policy, and democratic studies. She is an instructor of criminal justice and a graduate research assistant at Kennesaw State University.

Susan S. Raines, Kennesaw State University

Susan S. Raines is a professor of conflict management who has mediated more than 17,000 cases inside and outside the court system in areas including, family matters, employment, landlord-tenant, environmental, commercial, accident-injury, elder care and more. She was the editor-in-chief of Conflict Resolution Quarterly for 12 years and is the co-author of Expert Mediators with Jean Poitras.

Laffon Brelland Jr, Kennesaw State University

Laffon Brelland Jr is a Master student in the conflict management programme at Kennesaw State University. He served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Costa Rica from 2017 to 2019. His research interest includes migration, international policy and international development. He is a graduate research assistant at Kennesaw State University.


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How to Cite

Moon, C. A. ., Raines, S. S. ., & Brelland Jr, L. (2021). First-time mediator stories: Keys to better training and mediator preparation. Mediation Theory and Practice, 6, 7–19.



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