How to Become a Family Mediator

The OAFM has been accrediting Ontario’s family mediators since 1998. Accreditation is an important qualification that distinguishes mediators who are suitably trained, qualified and insured from those who may not be. If you want to obtain work with one of Ontario’s court-connected family mediation programs you generally must be accredited.

Benefits of accreditation with OAFM include belonging to the organization which introduced mediation to Ontario over forty (40) years ago and being in fellowship with over 700 mediators from various disciplines.

To begin the process, review the accreditation criteria below which, based on your level of post-secondary education, outlines the work experience needed and the family mediation courses that must be taken.  The first step is to join OAFM as an Associate Member

If  you are unsure that you have the necessary work experience needed for accreditation status, your next step would be to ask to be pre-vetted by the Accreditation Committee.  To do this you join OAFM as an Associate Member and upload your resume and peer reference letters outlining your work experience.  Please contact us to advise that you wish to be pre-vetted for your work experience.  Within approximately four weeks, a decision will be communicated to you by email and will be permanently recorded in your application.

The next step is to take the training courses. There are a number of providers of the training courses and we have listed the reliable and known ones that have been approved for many years. The people who provide these courses are members of the OAFM and have been conducting training for many years.

If you have questions about a different course you may have already taken, please contact us. It is possible that other courses, not designed to meet accreditation requirements, will qualify. It depends on the course content, and how much of it complies with the requirements established by the accrediting organizations.

Once you have completed your courses, your final step will be obtaining supervised practical experience from an Accredited Family Mediator (AccFM).  During supervision, you will require insurance; you can find a list of insurers who offer reduced rates to OAFM Members on our website. Supervised experience is an essential component of accreditation since it provides hands on experience with observation, co-mediation, mediation and the drafting of agreements. Family information and mediation service providers in each court jurisdiction generally provide access to supervision. Some accredited mediators in private practice offer this experiences as well. Please contact us if you have difficulty securing supervised experience.

Applicants must satisfy the following requirements:

STANDING – OAFM MEMBERSHIP DUES

Applicant must be an Associate Member in good standing with membership fees paid.

STANDARDS OF PRACTICE

Applicants must endorse and adhere strictly to the code of professional conduct as set out in the OAFM Standards of Practice. No mediator shall venture into an area of practice beyond his/her own area of expertise.

LIABILITY INSURANCE

Each applicant must carry insurance which covers the practice of family mediation, with a minimum of $1,000,000. It is the mediator’s responsibility to satisfy him or herself that his or her coverage applies to family mediation. The OAFM does not audit or verify insurance coverage held by member mediators, and members are solely responsible in the event of claims should the insurance coverage not apply to the practice of family mediation, or apply with limitations to coverage or for any other reason.

APPLICATION FEE 

Each application requires a processing fee of $450 + HST upon submission.

Applicants are required to compile all information listed in the Accredited Family Mediator (AccFM) designation application in their Membership Portal.

RESUME

Applicants are required to submit a Detailed Resume.

EDUCATIONAL REQUIREMENTS

Applicants are required to provide one of the following:

  1. Proof of a university degree or comprehensive college diploma*; or
  2. Proof of a minimum of six (6) years of relevant work experience.

WORK EXPERIENCE

The Ontario Association for Family Mediation views work and/or volunteer experience to be an essential component for family mediation accreditation. Applicants must show verification of professional experience in counselling, the legal field, psychology, social work, financial professionals, social services, teaching or nursing. Applicants who work with individuals or organizations in conflict or facilitating discussions between individuals or organizations who have adverse interests will be considered.

The number of years of education was considered in conjunction with the definition and the following recommendations were made;

Applicants are required therefore to have the following work experience:

  • *Applicants who have a university graduate degree or LL.B. or J.D. must provide proof (i.e. letter from supervisor or peer reference) of a minimum of two (2) years of substantive and relevant work experience.
  • *Applicants who have an undergraduate university degree or comprehensive relevant 2 or 3 years college diploma must provide proof (i.e. letter from supervisor or peer reference) of a minimum of four (4) years of substantive and relevant work experience.
  • **Applicants without post-secondary education must provide proof (i.e. letter from supervisor or peer reference) of a minimum of six (6) years of substantive and relevant work experience

FIVE COURSES REQUIRED* find approved courses

1. Fundamentals of Family Mediation Training

Applicants must complete the forty (40) hours of Fundamental Family Mediation Training. The course must be taught by an approved OAFM Accredited Mediator authorized to conduct training or be pre-approved by OAFM by applying to the Accreditation Committee. Please note that only courses taught by OAFM accredited mediators will be reviewed. This course will include a minimum of five (5) hours in each of the following categories:

  1. Conflict intervention models and theories
  2. Psychological issues in separation, divorce, family dynamics, and power imbalances
  3. Issues and needs of children in separation and divorce
  4. Mediation process and techniques
  5. A minimum of 30% role play
  6. An overview of Ontario Family Law including custody, support, asset evaluation and distribution, equalization of net family properties, and taxation as it relates to separation and divorce

2. Advanced Family Mediation Training

Applicants require twenty one (21) hours of additional Family Mediation skills training which must be delivered in one course that contains a minimum of 50% role play experience. The course must be taught by an approved OAFM Accredited Mediator authorized to conduct training, or be pre-approved by OAFM by applying to the Accreditation Committee. Please note that only courses taught by OAFM accredited mediators will be reviewed.

3. Domestic Violence Training

Applicants are required to have taken twenty-one (21) hours of education/training for Screening for Family Violence, Abuse and Power Imbalance within two (2) years of their Application. If the training was taken more than two (2) years prior to the application for accreditation, an additional seven (7) hour refreshment course is required.  This refresher can by completed by requesting to take any one day of an available three (3) day training, or any Professional Development Day focused on Intimate Partner Violence.

The OAFM considers Screening for Family Violence, Abuse and Power Imbalances training to be a critical and essential component of a family mediator’s training. This training must be taken in person*, in successive, intact sessions and include role plays. *Please note that due to the global pandemic, all approved courses are eligible to be delivered 100% online.  For more information about the time lines of this extension, please contact us. 

Courses and training(s) that merely touch on domestic violence for a few hours at different times in the course(s), or the accumulation of a few hours from different courses do not meet this training requirement. Those qualified to provide Training in Family Violence, Abuse and Power Imbalance may, instead of presenting proof of having taken the courses, provide proof of a comparable training offered and delivered by them.

The course must be taught by an approved OAFM Accredited Mediator authorized to conduct training or be pre-approved by OAFM by applying to the Accreditation Committee. Please note that only courses taught by OAFM accredited mediators will be reviewed.

4. Family Law Training

Applicants must take twenty-one (21) hours of education/training in Family Law from an Accredited Family Mediator approved to do that training. This course may be completed online. *Lawyers who are practicing family law at the time of their application are exempt from this requirement.

The course must be taught by an approved OAFM Accredited Mediator authorized to conduct training or be pre-approved by OAFM by applying to the Accreditation Committee. Please note that only courses taught by OAFM accredited mediators will be reviewed.

5. Family Relations Training

Applicants must take twenty-one (21) hours of education/training in Family Relations from an Accredited Family Mediator approved to do that training.  Family Relations Professionals* are exempt from this requirement.

The course must be taught by an approved OAFM Accredited Mediator authorized to conduct training or be pre-approved by OAFM by applying to the Accreditation Committee. Please note that only courses taught by OAFM accredited mediators will be reviewed.

*A Family Relations Professional is someone who has obtained a degree or comprehensive diploma in social work/social science and/or mental health with a focus on interpersonal/family relationships. The individual must meet this educational requirement and also currently be working in a field related to interpersonal/family relationships

SUPERVISED PRACTICAL EXPERIENCE

The applicant mediator is required to have hands-on mediation work experience supervised by an OAFM Accredited Family Mediator for a minimum of one hundred (100) hours:

  • The applicant must submit a letter(s) from an Accredited Family Mediator confirming satisfactory supervision of the required one-hundred 100 hours of family mediation work and the completion of five Mediated agreements;
  • The one hundred (100) hours of supervision shall be a combination of co-mediating, observing, consulting, conducting mediations under supervision and de-briefing.
    1. a minimum of twenty (20) hours of observation, which can be through on-line platforms at the discretion of the Supervisor;
      a minimum of ten (10) hours of co-mediation, ideally a case from intake through mediation;
    2. a minimum of seventy (70) further hours, supervised in accordance with the discretion of the Supervisor, which shall include each of the following:
      • direct supervision;
      • self-evaluation;
      • debriefing

And can include further observation or co-mediation.

AGREEMENTS TO MEDIATE OR RETAINER CONTRACTS

Copies of the corresponding five (5) Agreements to Mediate

  • Any information that could identify clients is to be redacted
  • Put a case number that matches the corresponding Mediation Report*
  • Ensure that the applicant’s role in the mediation process of each case is noted, i.e. whether the applicant was the mediator, co-mediator, intern, etc.
  • Date the Agreement to Mediate was signed

MEDIATOR REPORTS

  • Copies of five (5) Final Mediation Reports*
    • All information that may identify clients should be redacted
    • the corresponding Agreement to Mediate must be uploaded
    • Put a case number that matches the corresponding Agreement to Mediate
    • If the reports do not indicate a substantive mediation, the Committee may speak with the applicant to determine more details of the mediation or request a further report(s)

    * or Memorandum of Understanding or Separation Agreement

PROFESSIONAL LIABILITY INSURANCE 

All Accredited Members (AccFM) and Associate OAFM Members must obtain and maintain professional liability insurance as practising family mediators. A Minimum $1 Million Errors and Omissions (E&O) Insurance covering Family Mediation is required. General insurance will NOT suffice, only E&O insurance will satisfy requirements.

For those seeking insurance or exploring their options, OAFM offers a list of recommended insurance providers.

The OAFM Board takes client confidentiality very seriously. The committee WILL NOT consider contracts or agreements to mediate where client information has not been completely hidden or covered.

Depending on the professional background of the mediator, the concluding report has a variety of titles, e.g. Mediator’s Report, Mediator’s Understanding of Clients Agreement, Memorandum of Understanding, etc.

For the purposes above, a Comprehensive College Education is a college diploma that indicates that the graduate is equipped with knowledge and a skill set sufficient (or necessary) to competently work in the human service field of family breakdown.

Requirements for Established Family Mediators

Certified Family Mediators of Family Mediation Canada may apply to the Accreditation Committee for AccFM equivalency.  In addition, there is a pathway for professionals who have been practicing as family mediator’s for decades. Established Mediators are those with an established family mediation practice and meet all requirements of the Policy.  Please contact us regarding these applications.  Click here to view the Established Family Mediator Requirements.

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