Are you passionate about helping Ontario families settle disputes, separations, divorces, or custody issues without resorting to costly litigation?
Going through the process to become a certified family mediator is an excellent way to gain the skills and credentials to begin your career.
Certification is not technically required to work as a family mediator in Ontario. But it can open a lot of doors.
For instance, you generally need to be certified if you want to provide court-connected family mediation services.
So how do you get started?
This post details the steps required to become accredited through the Ontario Association for Family Mediation (OAFM).
Here's how the process works.
1. BECOME AN ASSOCIATE MEMBER OF THE OAFM
The OAFM is the biggest accreditor of family mediators in Ontario. Its Accredited Family Mediator (AccFM) designation is recognized by the provincial government and the family courts.
The first step in getting that designation is joining the OAFM as an associate member. This requires paying a fee.
You must also agree to abide by the OAFM's code of conduct. It outlines a mediator's role regarding issues like confidentiality, legal advice, and considering the voices of children.
The code of conduct also requires family mediators to undergo at least 10 hours of continuing education each year.
2. understand requirements for related work experience
The OAFM requires applicants to have substantive professional experience in a relevant area, such as psychology, social work, counselling, law, social services, nursing, or teaching.
The amount of experience you need depends on how much education you have.
☑️ If you have a graduate or law degree, you need at least 2 years of experience.
☑️ If you have a bachelor's degree or college diploma, you need at least 4 years of experience.☑️ If you have no post-secondary education, you need at least 6 years of experience.
Not sure if you meet the minimum requirements?
When you apply for your OAFM membership, you can upload your resume and reference letters and ask the Accreditation Committee to pre-vet you.
3. TAKE THE OAFM-APPROVED TRAINING COURSES
To become a family mediator with AccFM status, you must complete 5 specific courses. Each course has a minimum number of training hours.☑️ Fundamentals of family mediation (40 hours)—Introduces the mediation process and the core skills required to effectively mediate family disputes.
☑️ Advanced family mediation (21 hours)—Covers ethical principles, problem-solving strategies, and how to draft Separation Agreements and Memorandums of Understanding (MOUs). At least half of the training hours must be devoted to role-playing simulated mediations.
☑️ Screening for family violence, abuse, and power imbalances (21 hours)—Focuses on making sure all parties are appropriate candidates for mediation. Role-play is required.
☑️ Family law (21 hours)—Provides an overview of Ontario's family justice system. If you are a practicing family lawyer, you can skip this course.
☑️ Family relations (21 hours)—Explores the potential impact of separation and divorce on both children and adults. If you have a degree or diploma related to social work or mental health and are currently working in a related field, you don't need to take this course.
Courses are available from OAFM-approved providers. These include colleges as well as private practice mediators.
Kompass Professional Development (a division of Herzing College) is one of the few approved training providers to offer all 5 courses required by the OAFM.
4. GET LIABILITY INSURANCE
If any party in a mediation feels like you made a mistake that cost them, they may decide to sue you.
That's why a key step in family mediation certification is obtaining professional liability insurance. The OAFM requires all certified family mediators to carry at least $1 million in errors and omissions (E&O) insurance.
Make sure the policy you choose specifically covers family mediators. The OAFM has a list of recommended providers.
5. COMPLETE A PERIOD OF SUPERVISED PRACTICAL EXPERIENCE
Once you finish a family mediation course and become insured, you need to get at least 100 hours of practical experience under the supervision of an OAFM-accredited mediator.
Those 100 hours must include practice in observing, co-mediating, and leading a mediation along with writing progress notes and Mediation Reports.
Up to 80 of the hours can be done through simulated role-play.
But you must draft a Mediation Report, Separation Agreement, or MOU for at least 2 non-simulated mediations.
6. APPLY TO the OAFM
The final step is applying for accreditation through the OAFM's online member portal.
You must submit:
☑️ The application fee of $450 plus HST
☑️ A resume that details your educational credentials and work experience
☑️ Letters from supervisors or colleagues verifying your work experience
☑️ A Confirmation of Practical Experience form from your supervising mediator
☑️ Copies of 1 Agreement to Mediate plus 5 Mediation Reports, Separation Agreements, or MOUs (with all information that could identify clients fully redacted)
☑️ Proof of liability insurance
If your application is missing any of the supporting documentation, the Accreditation Committee will give you a year to provide it.
After that time, you'll have to re-submit everything, including the fee.
GET ON THE PATH TO FAMILY MEDIATION CERTIFICATION
Kompass Professional Development offers a Family Mediation Certificate that meets the educational requirements for the AccFM designation.
You can complete the certificate in just 12 weeks. Courses are delivered online, and include required role-plays and simulations.
Click below to explore the certificate and chat live with an Admissions Advisor for more information.