About This Cause
The Center for Understanding in Conflict, formerly The Center for Mediation in Law, was formed in 1981 as a non-profit educational institute dedicated to integrating mediative principles into the practice of law and resolving legal disputes in commercial, family, organizational and other legal and non-legal settings. Initially, the Center conducted introductory and advanced training programs for lawyers, offering its unique Understanding-based approach to conflict resolution. The application of this approach has now expanded to collaborative practice, non-profit organizations, ombuds work, traditional legal representation, and other settings in which professionals wish to help parties work through conflict differently.
At the heart of the Understanding-Based Model is the belief that those in conflict hold the keys to unlocking resolution. Our approach is that parties can work together to find the best solution by understanding their own views, the other’s views and their practical reality. Woven into our training is transforming our emotions and opinions into sources of empathy, connection, and understanding as a means to bringing together parties in conflict.
In the United States, we have trained more than 10,000 nonprofit and corporate leaders, lawyers, law teachers, judges, human resources personnel. mental health providers and other professionals in this method. And since 1990, the Center has trained conflict professionals in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Israel, Italy, France, Hong Kong, Australia, Ukraine and Russia. Center trainers have also used the model in training at Harvard’s Program of Instruction for Lawyers, the Harvard Negotiation Insight Initiative, the American Bar Association, and the World Intellectual Property Organization. The Center offers ongoing support groups, peer groups, and advanced training programs, both live and virtual.
In the Understanding-Based approach, the conflict professional seeks to work directly with the parties to support them on their path to conflict resolution. While fostering an environment of mutual respect, we strive to help both parties make informed decisions in unison.
Our model is based not on the belief that the parties lack the desire or the ability to go through conflict together but that perception frequently poses the most significant obstacle. We believe that when properly motivated and given the needed support, the capacity of those in conflict to work together through their situation of conflict can flourish.
We developed the Understanding-Based Model to support people working through their conflict together. While developing this approach, we felt we weren’t inventing something new but rather uncovering what was innately there.