Cross-cultural divorce mediation by social workers : experiences of mediators and clients.
The study focused on the experiences of social work mediators and clients in cross-cultural divorce mediation. Currently there is minimal research available in the South African context. The context of the study was Durban and the sample groups came from FAMSA. Through the researcher’s interactions with colleagues and clients alike the researcher realised the need to explore clients’ and mediators’ experiences during the process of cross-cultural divorce mediation. The researcher did this in order to obtain an understanding of the challenges that mediators face when conducting cross-cultural divorce mediation, as well as to explore approaches/techniques used in cross-cultural divorce mediation for both clients and mediators alike and this prompted him to undertake the study. This study was qualitative and there were two sample groups. A non-probability, purposive sampling method was utilized for both samples. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 6 mediators and 12 clients. This study was guided by a social constructivist approach. The main conclusions drawn from the study were that mediators displayed high levels of self-awareness, were aware of cross-cultural issues and that participants were satisfied with the awareness shown. Participants reported that their voices were heard and that power imbalances were addressed in mediation. Two interrelated challenges were experienced by mediators, namely inadequate cross-cultural training and the need for participants to have more information on mediatory roles and responsibilities. One of the most widely reported tools by both mediators and participants, for the success of mediation was that of role clarification. Based on the analysis, the recommendations include introspection and reflection by mediators in cross-cultural mediations. Training on cross-cultural work is emphasized for better service delivery to clients. The need for access to information and services are pivotal and requires collaboration between various stakeholders. There continues to be a need for mediator support networks. The use of a well-designed preamble is of essence to clarify and maintain distinct roles and responsibilities during the process of cross-cultural divorce mediation.