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The Psychology and Neurobiology of Mediation


Elizabeth E. Bader’s recent publication, The Psychology and Neurobiology of Mediation (in The Cardozo Journal of Conflict Resolution, Volume 17)  is now available for SPT Readers.

Elizabeth looks at mediation in terms of the nervous system’s response to threat and challenge (what she calls the IDR cycle–inflation, deflation, and realistic resolution). She explores the links between the psychological and neurobiological dimensions of mediation and integrates the work of Stephen Porges (Polyvagal Theory) and Peter Levine (Somatic Experiencing). She notes a distinct feature of mediation is that those involved experience both threat and safety responses simultaneously.

“The sympathetic nervous system, our fight or flight response, is around during confrontation and negotiation while this same system is soothed and calmed via our social engagement and communication.”

While her intention in writing this paper was to help mediators and lawyers understand more about their parties’ reactions during mediation, her work also informs and presents ways we, as psychotherapists, can support our clients as they negotiate with family members, in work situations, even in relationship with us. Elizabeth shares ways to read subtle elements in body language and to become sensitive to the all important dimension of timing as clients work with the IDR cycle and all of its variations/iterations.

She shared Blascovich and Colleague’s Biopsychosocial Model of Challenge and Threat. I found this interesting:

“People have a tendency to experience challenges to self-related goals as threats, not challenges, when they recognize the task but do not feel their resources, internal or external, are up to the task. People who are threatened are more likely to have problems with self-esteem, and to withdraw or feel defeated during a task that others would find challenging, even exhilarating” (page. 374).

There is much information in this paper. Many thanks to Elizabeth for sharing it with our readers!

Click here to read the PDF

Elizabeth E. Bader, Esq.
Bader Conflict Resolution Services
580 California St., Suite 1200
San Francisco, CA 94104
Tel: (415) 391-7272
Fax: (415) 737-0630

Elizabeth Bader’s Blog: http://www.elizabethbader.com/elizabethbadersblog/
Recipient, Margaret Mahler Psychiatric Research Foundation Literature Prize.

Author, The Psychology and Neurobiology of Mediation, Cardozo Journal of Conflict Resolution (December 2015).

Author, Understanding the Deeper Meaning of “Face” in Mediation,<http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/aps.295/abstract> Int’l J. of Applied Psychoanalytic Studies (December, 2011).

Author, *The Psychology of Mediation: Issues of Self & Identity and the IDR Cycle <http://www.elizabethbader.com/SelfandIdentity.pdf>
Pepperdine Dispute Resolution Law Journal (2010).

Her paper was published in The Cardozo Journal of Conflict Resolution (CJCR) which “features topics in alternative dispute resolution and mediation. The Journal reflects the prominence of Cardozo’s program in Alternative Dispute Resolution, which includes the school’s pioneering mediation clinic; participation in intraschool and national counseling, negotiation, and mediation advocacy competitions; a student chapter of the ABA Section of Dispute Resolution; and various other symposia and events.”