Conflict Coaching: A New Service

by Janet M. Powers and Bryana Nelson

Recently we learned of a new service which many other Community Mediation Centers offer: Conflict Coaching. Geared toward individuals who face difficult problems but are unsure as to what paths to take to resolve them, conflict coaching involves one-on-one work with a person trained in various techniques of conflict resolution. It is especially useful for those who are contemplating mediation but are unsure of what it entails, or those who have been asked to join in mediation but are reluctant to do so.

Conflict coaching need not lead to mediation, however. Some persons may decide to pursue the legal route after meeting with a conflict coach. They might decide to press charges through a district justice or hire a lawyer to help solve the problem. Those with low incomes may qualify for Legal Aid. Others may find it useful to pursue some other form of alternative conflict resolution, such as arbitration, family group decision making, community decision making, or just “talking things over” with the other party.

A conflict coach can help anyone with a seemingly insoluble problem to figure out what the next step should be. Of course, conflict coaching should not be confused with counseling in the sense of behavioral health. Conflict coaches cannot mend broken marriages, resolve long-standing family altercations, or help someone find his/her way out of psychological depression. Coaches can, however, provide a sounding board for the person who is baffled by alternatives or needs to find clarity concerning a dispute.

Mediation Services of Adams County is fortunate to have two highly trained individuals with undergraduate and graduate degrees in Conflict Resolution among our mediators. Bryana Nelson and Teresa Ralicki not only have extensive academic preparation for alternative dispute resolution, but both also have a great deal of practical experience in working with individual and community conflicts. With their expertise, Mediation Services is pleased to offer Conflict Coaching as a new service for the community.

You may wonder how one makes arrangements for conflict coaching? As with inquiring about a possible mediation, arranging for a speaker, or enrolling in mediation training, those interested in working with a conflict coach should call 717-334-7213 or contact MSAC by e-mail: mediationac@yahoo.com. As with mediation, conflict coaching is not expensive. We operate on a sliding scale according to income, with rates beginning at $5 and going up to $35 per session.

Janet M. Powers is MSAC Presiding Officer; Bryana Nelson is a Mediator, Board Member and Conflict Coach.