Becoming an Expert Mediator
A few years ago, Dr. Molly Pachan, a clinical psychologist and executive director of Sankofa Psychological Services, realized that more couples and families were sharing their frustration with the divorce process and approaching her about referrals for collaborative divorces and mediations as an alternative to fighting it out in court. In response, Pachan decided it might be time to start a new division of her group practice.
Providing mediation services offers a large benefit for Sankofa’s clients. “In addition to avoiding emotional pain, mediation is a lot more cost effective,” Pachan explained. “You end up spending less money because you waste much less time fighting.”
To take on this initiative, however, Pachan wanted to make sure she specialized and became an expert in divorce mediation. To meet that demand, she completed the Divorce Mediation Training Program at Northwestern University School of Professional Studies. She also became involved in local groups that focus on interdisciplinary collaboration between psychology and law professionals.
“There are a lot of other courses, but I specifically picked the Northwestern course because I’ve heard from attorneys and mediators in Chicago it’s the one to do,” Pachan said. “It’s approved by the prestigious Association for Conflict Resolution and it’s much more respected than other available programs.”
During the intensive five-day course, Pachan appreciated the opportunity to work with multidisciplinary professionals and made new contacts with attorneys and therapists around Chicago. Even though the coursework is covered in a whirlwind week of full-time classes, she and her colleagues have stayed in touch, exchanging ideas and successes of their practices.
She also enjoyed the level of instruction, which included coaching from practicing mediators, as well as guest speakers such as a judge and a certified financial divorce planner.
“Everyone I talked to said the quality of instruction at Northwestern would be superior to other options out there,” Pachan said. “It’s worth the wait. Do the quality course through Northwestern.”