Train as a Family Mediator

Family Mediation can be a very rewarding career which will see you help families in conflict to reach agreements on issues surrounding their divorce or separation, away from the heat of the courtroom.

When it comes to family mediation training, we are the specialists. Our training has been evolving ever since we began to develop family mediation in the early 1980s, taking into account new learning opportunities and styles. We devised and developed the code of practice and specialist training needed to become a family mediator, which has since been adopted and used by other mediation providers.

Our family mediation training will give you a comprehensive and inclusive set of skills and knowledge to work in this field. With expert trainers and small group sizes, it is unrivalled and unmatched by any other training currently on the market today. A cornerstone of our success is our commitment to professional standards and the delivery of professional services. So our priority is the training of highly skilled practitioners who deliver a high-quality service for families affected by relationship breakdown. All our trained mediators meet our gold standard.

We have tried to answer some of the questions you may have about family mediation as a career and if you are considering undertaking NFM’s Foundation Family Mediation Training programme. If, after reading this page, you have any further queries, please do get in touch using the details at the foot of this page.

What is family mediation?

When couples separate or divorce, there are many practical and emotional issues to resolve. By the nature of their separation, many couples find it difficult to talk about their concerns.

Mediators are professionals, trained to help clients negotiate agreements on all the issues arising from separation such as :

  • what will happen to the house
  • where will everyone live
  • how will the individuals separate their finances and assets
  • how will the children cope
  • when will they spend time with each parent and how will this affect wider family members.

There are many complex and varied issues to consider and it is usually a very stressful time for the whole family.

Mediation is a great, cost-effective way for families to resolve difficult problems and to emerge with a sense of achievement. Mediation helps people to untangle all the strands that combine them, help them learn new ways of communicating and most importantly helping parents to help their children make the adjustments. Mediators do not tell people what to do; they help them work it out for themselves.

Court battles on the other hand, tend to leave people feeling unheard and bitter and may increase the bad feeling between the parties, as well as being very costly.

How do I become a qualified family mediator?

Completing NFM’s Foundation Family Mediation Training programme is the first step toward becoming qualified as a family mediator.

The mediation skills taught on this course are useful to anyone working with families, couples, parents or with any family relationship. Some people working in other professions use mediation training to enhance their skill sets.

If, however, you wish to work as a professional family mediator, there are additional requirements beyond basic training.

The first step towards becoming a family mediator is to attend our Introduction to Family mediation course. This is a compulsory part of the full foundation training and you must have attended this course before you can progress on to the full foundation training programme. Dates for our next Introduction to Family Mediation courses can be found on our courses page here.

Following attendance at the Introduction to Family Mediation course you are able to book and attend our Foundation Family Mediation course – details of future dates can be found here.

Following attendance at a foundation family mediation course, and before becoming an accredited and qualified family mediator, a trainee must first register with the Family Mediation Council (FMC) or The Law Society as working towards accreditation (FMCT) and must clearly represent themselves to the public as not yet fully accredited. They are then required to undertake a period of supervised casework practice, working with a Professional Practice Consultant (PPC) and/or co-mediator in accordance with the Family Mediation Council Standards and Self Regulatory Framework. Once you have become accredited, your FMC registration status will change from FMCT (trainee) to FMCA (accredited).

To become a fully accredited family mediator, you will need to complete a portfolio, demonstrating your competence in mediation, and identifying key elements of your practice as it relates to core mediation skills. This will include providing casework material on a minimum of three cases. Your portfolio will be assessed by the FMC. If you are successful, you will be able to register with the FMC as an accredited mediator (FMCA). Family mediators have to undertake ongoing continuing professional development (CPD) in order to renew their registration at three-yearly intervals.

How long does it take to become an accredited family mediator?

The foundation family mediation training usually takes around 4 months (over 4 modules) and the amount of time it will take to achieve accreditation will depend on the amount of experience you are able to gain during the accreditation process. It can take anywhere between six months and two years to get the casework experience needed to be able to submit your portfolio.

The FMC allows up to three years to submit your portfolio from completion of foundation training.

What are the entry requirements?

NFM Foundation Family Mediation Training requires candidates to demonstrate on application that they have a high level of critical analysis and independent thinking, and have the ability to relate theory to practice. Candidates will need to show that they meet the “essential” criteria set out on this person specification. Formal qualifications and prior relevant experience are also considered with excellent literacy and numeracy skills being a core essential.

By the end of the course, we will be looking for particular skills and abilities, such as the ability to address clients in a non-judgmental and respectful manner, to listen well, and to help clients develop options without imposing your own views.

What if I already have some experience or training?

Your experience is always valuable. We often have new trainees coming to us from related fields, and they bring knowledge and skills which we encourage them to use and share. If, however, you want to be eligible to register with the FMC as an accredited family mediator, you will need to complete the full Foundation Family Mediation Training programme. If you are seeking to extend existing skills in other areas of work please get in touch and we will be happy to discuss other possibilities.

If you wish to practice as an accredited family mediator in England and Wales you will have to complete an approved foundation training programme such as NFM’s Foundation Family Mediation programme, and proceed through the FMC accreditation process. This is because family mediators in England and Wales are responsible for authorising applications to court in family matters and only FMC-accredited family mediators are eligible to sign these court application forms.

Mediators who have trained in other jurisdictions outside England and Wales will need to contact the Family Mediation Standards Board (FMSB) to find out if their previous mediation training and experience qualifies them to work in family mediation in England and Wales. It is likely that some or all of the family mediation training will need to be covered and once the FMSB has outlined what needs to be done, mediators can contact us to discuss their training needs.

In some instances, it may be possible to take into account some prior knowledge and skills, in this case you may be able to undertake a conversion course.

How do I choose the right course?

When choosing a family mediation foundation training course you need to ensure that the course you are considering is FMC-approved. Only by attending an authorised training programme can you progress to become a recognised and accredited family mediator.

NFM is an approved FMC training provider. It is also the longest established provider of family mediation in England and Wales and is widely regarded as the best training provider in the field today.

What is the structure of the course?

The course is delivered in four modules. There are two taught modules, currently delivered online via Zoom, and two distance learning modules, each requiring 20 hours of study. These take place over a three or four-month period with the expectation that written assignments are completed before, between and immediately after the taught modules.

Ongoing assessment of your skills and knowledge is an integral part of the course. This will include observing your performance in simulated practice in the classroom setting, and the submission of written assignments which are marked by the trainers. Provided you meet the standards set, you will pass the course.

Click here to read the full learning outcomes of each module.

What will be expected of me on the taught modules?

To become a fully trained family mediator all four modules must be completed. The course is delivered in a range of formats, e.g. work completed as a whole group, as individuals, in pairs, in groups etc. All elements of the training are supported by written handouts that support the distance learning workbook assignments to consolidate learning.

Presentation of the information by the trainers also uses a range of styles and techniques to aid learning. You will be expected to take part in group work with a trainer observing for the assessment procedure. These are not exam conditions; they are aimed at facilitating learning and the trainer will help you if you have difficulty.

How much self-study is expected?

Before, between and immediately after the taught modules, you will be required to complete tasks and assignments, some of which will be for assessment purposes. These are via our online classroom and will include reading set articles and commenting on them, reflecting on your own values/prejudices and how they might impact upon practice and any preparatory reading needed for the next module. Assessed assignments will be submitted by agreed deadlines during the course. Your certificate of completion will not be issued if the assignments are not completed and assessed. It is expected that the two distance learning modules will take 20 hours each, including work on the set assignments.

What do I get at the end of the course?

You will receive a Certificate of Completion provided you have satisfactorily completed all four modules (this will mean reaching the required standard when assessed), and it will include an assessment of the set assignments.

You will also receive a detailed assessment of your particular skills, strengths and areas to develop. The assessment criteria will be explained in detail at the beginning of the course.

What if I don’t reach the required standard?

The aim of the course is to help you achieve certification. If you meet the entry requirements, and once engaged in the course you demonstrate commitment, understanding and willingness to learn as well as completing the required assignments, it is likely you will reach the standard needed to pass the course. The trainers are there to work with you to develop your skills, identify areas you are struggling with and help you when you don’t understand something.

Becoming a good mediator takes knowledge, understanding and, above all, skill. The NFM Foundation Family Mediation Training programme is designed to help you and teach you the required level of skill to proceed to practice. We expect mistakes, but we also expect substantial progress where we can see a trainee is improving until they meet the criteria. We will give you continual feedback, so you will know how you are progressing and any areas that may need additional attention. Your assessment document will detail in what way you did not reach the required standard for assessment and, where appropriate, the options you may have in order to improve.

Why choose an NFM course?

National Family Mediation is a unique provider of family mediation. Family mediation started in the voluntary sector in the early 1980s. The code of practice and the specific training needed to become a family mediator were devised and developed by NFM, and have since been adopted and used by other mediation providers.

A cornerstone of NFM’s success is its commitment to professional standards and the delivery of professional services. Our priority is to the training of highly skilled practitioners who deliver a high-quality service for the benefit of families affected by relationship breakdown.

NFM training will give you a comprehensive and inclusive set of skills and knowledge to work in this field that is unrivalled and unmatched by any other training currently in the market today. In short, we are the specialists in this field.

Who are the trainers?

The trainers have been selected and recruited by NFM in an open recruitment process. They are practising mediators who have been carefully selected because of their significant experience, professional backgrounds, and proven track records in delivering excellent quality training. Their backgrounds include teaching, managing, legal professions, social work, and others. The trainers also work as a team to ensure the training course and materials incorporate new practice developments and initiatives. In this way, we are confident that the services provided are fit for purpose and focused on client needs. At least two trainers are assigned to each course to ensure that you have excellent access to help and advice where you need it.

Do I need a Professional Practice Consultant (PPC)?

Whilst undertaking the training it is not a requirement to engage the services of a PPC as the course is assessed by the trainers on your completion of the modules and self-study units to a satisfactory standard. PPCs can however be very useful in supporting you with observations and co-working. As part of the training, and included in the course cost, we provide a one-hour post-training session with a PPC.

If you are planning to become a qualified mediator after successful completion of the course, you will need to contract with a PPC to supervise your practice and casework to help you progress towards accreditation with the FMC. Once in practice, there are standard requirements for the number of hours of supervision you are required to undertake including continuing professional development (CPD) required each year. It may be possible to negotiate a contract with the PPC provided through NFM following training or you may wish to choose someone else.

If you are working for NFM or attached to an NFM service, a PPC will be appointed and you can discuss any supervision you will receive directly with them.

Post-training next steps

When you have completed the foundation training you will need to find practice experience and supervision (PPC), and start working towards FMC accreditation.

The route to mediator accreditation is :

  • Attendance at a family mediation core training programme 
  • Traineeship in an NFM member service, or other service observing experienced mediators 
  • Documenting casework in a portfolio, with recommendations from practice consultant and co-workers. 
  • Co-working as a trainee with experienced mediators 
  • Regular monthly supervision with a professional practice consultant 
  • Leading cases, supported and co-worked with an experienced mediator 

If you are working for NFM or an NFM member service you could be offered a traineeship contract. This will set out the terms and charges for providing you with PPC support and opportunities to observe and co-work cases.

If you are going to work in the private mediation sector you will need to check the costs of PPC and opportunities to observe cases as these vary significantly.

Click here for detailed guidance on the steps involved in working towards and achieving Accreditation.

You will need to do 10 hours of co-mediated practice before you are ready to mediate on your own at which time, assuming your PPC has agreed you are ready to undertake solo mediation you will be able to mediate on private cases. Once you can work on private cases alone you will be able to charge fees or derive income from these cases.

Until you have achieved accreditation you will not be able to sign clients’ court application forms or undertake publicly-funded work. The court forms require mediators to use their Unique Reference Number (U.R.N.) when issuing C100, Form A or FM1 forms for clients.

The speed with which you can achieve accreditation varies. On average it takes around 18 months to obtain the right type of cases for submission in your portfolio that will adequately illustrate your skills and practice. If you are able to be flexible and make yourself available for co-worked opportunities, and you have the right type of cases coming through, the timescale could be truncated and you could be ready to submit your portfolio within six months.

Our training is accessible to people of different backgrounds and socio-economic groups in order to reflect our client group. As a registered charity, our pricing structure is designed to cover our costs – we are not for profit – whilst providing the best skills and knowledge base from which to develop a career as a mediator.

Please note that terms and conditions apply. Please read these before enrolling on the course.

Our courses run throughout the year and all future dates for our training can be found on our courses page.

Here you can read about the experiences of previous foundation training attendees.

If you have any further queries, please contact us:
Tel: 0300 4000 636