I still don’t really understand what the differences are between the FMC and the FMA; what do they actually do?
The FMC or Family Mediation Council is dedicated to promoting best practice in family mediation. Its central aim is to ensure that the public can confidently access family mediation services offering high quality mediation. It does this by maintaining a register of mediators, by setting standards for the training and professional practice of registered mediators and ensuring that those standards are met, by providing advice and information about mediation, and, very importantly, by representing the profession with government and other organisations.
In other words, the FMC both regulates the family mediation profession and represents the profession at a national level. Much of this important work is done by the FMC’s Family Mediation Standards Board, which has an independent role in setting and maintaining standards for family mediators. The FMC does not itself train new family mediators or provide updating skills training to experienced mediators, but it does set standards for key elements of training and requires mediators to keep themselves updated in specific ways.
Key job: the FMC register of family mediators is particularly important because only mediators registered with the FMC are recognised by the Ministry of Justice as family mediators able to sign court forms. To be on the FMC register a family mediator has to be a member of one of the five membership bodies (for example, the FMA), has to pay an annual fee and has to provide FMC with annual confirmation that they meet the current standards (once they are recognised by FMC as an ‘accredited’ mediator, which involves submitting a portfolio of work, they also have to re-accredit every three years). All registered family mediators therefore must meet the standards set by the FMC, no matter which of the five membership bodies they belong to.
As a membership body, the main concern of the FMA or Family Mediators Association is to help its members to provide high quality family mediation services to families in dispute. Our members pay an annual membership fee and receive various benefits in return, including access to the FMC register (provided, of course, that they meet the other FMC requirements). FMA’s specific aims are to help families in dispute find and make use of high quality family mediation services, to provide members with a community and a voice, to offer training and provide support to members, and, very importantly, to represent members with the regulatory body, the FMC.
In other words, FMA provides a home for like-minded professional family mediators, where they can exchange ideas and information and access lots of practical support and ensures that the views of those mediators are heard by the FMC and other bodies. Unlike FMC, FMA directs its advice and support to its own members, not to all registered mediators (although non-members are welcome to attend training courses!)
Key job: since FMA was created in 1988 as the home of family mediators it has promoted a particularly flexible and collaborative model of family mediation, in which professionals from different backgrounds (lawyers, therapists, social workers, financial experts) work together to help separating families. This might involve co-mediation, or it might mean bringing other professionals into the mediation discussions in some way. We believe that our programme of quality training is vital in this work. Unlike FMC, FMA does train new family mediators and does offer updating skills training to experienced mediators (and is recognised by the FMC as a training body which meets the high standards set).
So, in a nutshell …
FMC is a regulatory body, setting standards for, promoting and representing at a national level all registered family mediators.
FMA is a membership organisation, supporting and training its members, helping them to provide a particular type of family mediation as well as to maintain high standards, and also representing its members with the FMC.