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New Reflective Practice Group--see below.

Our experience with Reflective Practice Groups

Institute Directors and Associates have organized and facilitated RPGs for more than a decade.  Currently we lead RPGs sponsored by professional organizations, including: ABA Section of Dispute Resolution, Association for Conflict Resolution, Academy of Professional Family Mediators, Mediators Institute of Ireland, Nebraska Association of Mediators, Association of Northern Mediators (UK), and KwaZulu-Natal Society of Mediators (South Africa). 


What is a Reflective Practice Group?

An RPG is a structured non-judgmental approach to puzzling through practice challenges in a group setting.  Trained and experienced group leaders utilize RPII’s Reflective Debrief®  model developed by Michael Lang and Susanne Terry to help group members explore a puzzling case.  The group member who presents a practice dilemma sets the focus.  The group leaders, and in time, the group members ask questions that reflect the presenter’s focus and dilemma (rather than the group’s experience or ideas about how to solve the puzzle).  The resulting conversation can help the mediator gain insight and the entire group learn from that mediator’s experience.

How does an RPG differ from other case consultation groups?  

The Reflective Debrief® method does not involve offering advice, practice tips, or instruction.  An RPG is a deep dive into a case. With the help of thoughtful questioning by group members, the presenting mediator takes time to consider aspects of the case that might have been overlooked at the time or in the confusion afterward.  This deep exploration allows the mediator to uncover assumptions, choices, and observations that led to the puzzling moment and maybe keys to better outcomes in the future. This process helps the mediator better understand why they make the choices that they do or why there was confusion in making choices.

How will an RPG help my practice? 

RPG members consistently report that RPII’s Reflective Debrief® model has improved the quality of their questioning, strengthened their patience, and most importantly, built their trust that clients with proper support can figure out the best solutions.  Also, RPGs create a community of professionals who share the same excitement about this work and face similar rewards and challenges.

What is the time commitment? 

An RPG is a yearlong group that meets once a month for 1.5 hours.

What is expected of members of an RPG?

Each member of an RPG is expected to attend sessions regularly and fully participate by presenting and assisting in debriefing cases. Members are expected to treat each other with professionalism and respect.

What are the benefits of Reflective Practice and what is the practical value of it?

As mediators, much of our work is as a solo practitioner. Reflective practice helps us develop and grow as practitioners by reflecting on our own experiences within the structure of a peer group. Reflective practice helps us harness our own insight and experiences to evaluate, consider, and nurture ourselves to be more effective and responsive in our practice while being supported with tools, structure, and guidance within a group of other mediation professionals.  Our monthly groups are a great learning opportunity for new and experienced mediators regardless of the setting or subject matter of their practice.

What happens in a group session? 

Each group has one or more trained and experienced group leaders who demonstrate and guide the participants in learning through RPII’s Reflective Debrief® model.

Who can join and benefit from an RPG?

RPGs organized and facilitated by the Institute consist of conflict practitioners such as mediators, collaborative practitioners, conflict coaches, facilitators.  RPGs facilitated by the Institute have participants from all areas practice—community, family, commercial, organizational, workplace.


What can I expect?

Groups focus on puzzling practice questions—those that may have resulted from an unexpected success or an incident that was unsettling or surprising.  Institute facilitators engage in a conversation with the presenter to help the presenter clarify the problem, understand its origin and impact on the mediation and the mediator, and discover new approaches for addressing the situation.


Unique to our approach is that we rely on questions rather than statements; and advice, opinions, or recommendations are seldom part of the group conversation. Practical and relevant learning occurs when the learner struggles with the problem, and discovers a solution that is unique to that learner. Lessons from this process are responsive to the particular needs of the learner.


Why participate?

Most conflict practitioners work in a bubble.  Only the parties and representatives participate. There are no outside observers who might comment on our work or provide feedback. Moreover, with few exceptions, we seldom receive feedback from the parties or their representatives. As a result, we have little if any basis for understanding whether our efforts were effective and responsive.   We want to understand:

- How do I know that I am doing the best I can?

- What interventions were helpful, which were off the mark; and why?

- How can I understand whether my efforts are as effective and resourceful as possible?

- How do I learn from difficult and frustrating experiences and from

            surprising successes?  


The RPG provides an opportunity to explore these practice questions, learn from our own and others’ practice experiences, and improve our skills and techniques.

NEW RPGs FORMING, May and June, 2024


Institute Directors and Associates, will be starting several new Reflective Practice Groups in the next few months.  Groups meet online monthly for 90 minutes.


How do I sign up or learn more? Go here to register for an RPG or add your name to learn about upcoming groups.

Participants will be asked to make a commitment to attend group meetings for a period of 12 months. We will limit group membership to 15 participants. The cost is $600 per participant for the twelve-month program.  The participation fee will be adjusted for participants from outside the US, Canada and Western Europe.


Scholarships are available. 

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