Although as a mediator I have a considerable interest in human relationships and the underlying conflicts that can arise, I have to say that the one section of the daily newspapers that I generally avoid is the so-called “Agony Aunt” section. However, I make an exception in the case of Mariella Frostrup’s excellent weekly column in the UK Sunday paper, The Observer.

In focusing on one reader’s letter per week, Ms. Frostrup always adopts an objective, neutral and  wide-ranging approach. Rather than judge or offhandedly give advice, she poses questions and encourages her individual correspondents to consider matters for themselves. She identifies any gaps in our knowledge and rather than give “answers” she suggests options and stratagems. I have no doubt that her nonjudgmental, empathetic approach is something that like me, her many readers find very reassuring. I strongly suspect that although there may be no mechanism for verifying, she does get results. Indeed, one is tempted to suggest that the approach that Ms. Frostrup adopts is not unlike mediation or perhaps more specifically, is reminiscent of the counselling and psychotherapy services that #AlbertSquareMediation family team offers.

There are three particular aspects of Ms. Frostrup’s columns that I particularly admire –

Firstly, like a mediator or psychotherapist she clearly resists the temptation to judge even in circumstances where to an objective observer, there may be “an obvious answer”. This approach is critical to the excellence and integrity of the columns.

Secondly, although she focuses on family and relationship issues, she deals with all sorts of scenarios and helps people, not least in circumstances where although there may be a potential disagreement or conflict on the horizon, things have not yet reached the point of hostility, acrimony or relationship breakup. In putting forward her stratagems and reflecting back to their individual readers, she indicates how situations can be approached and helps people to realise that in many instances, they do have it within them to do so.

Thirdly, although she in no way resorts to the “life is a bowl of cherries” approach she stresses the positives, often identifying them in circumstances where they will not be readily apparent. One can entirely understand that many correspondents will either be in despair or will be so caught up in their issues and concerns that they really cannot see the wood for the trees but she always looks at the bigger picture.

In stressing the positives in individual cases, Ms. Frostrup does not just tell people “how lucky they are”. Rather, she explains and gives some objective pointers as to how the individuals concerned can use the positives to move forward and either forestall difficulties or resolve them. She looks at creative or common sense solutions rather than complex or costly options ultimately enables the individuals concerned to use her advice as they see fit.

Unfortunately, only a limited number of people can avail themselves of Ms. Frostrup’s excellent service but there are other options. Counselling and psychotherapy services such as those that are offered by the highly expert team at #AlbertSquareMediation are quite modestly priced. Given their timeliness, flexibility and their ability to help individual clients very promptly address conflicts and disagreements or very pertinently, forestall them, our team members offer not only an excellent service but also excellent value for money.

The beginning of 2018 may be a good time for people to reflect on whether the services that #AlbertSquareMediation offer which include Early Dispute Avoidance and Early Dispute Resolution can be of benefit to them.

Along with Paul the #AlbertSquareMediation Family Team comprises: Austin Chessell, Elizabeth Richards, Anthony Wooding and Joanne Byrne. Between them the team members have backgrounds in and extensive experience of Family and Civil #Mediation, the Law, Counselling, Psychotherapy, Facilitation/Early Dispute Resolution, Training, the Education Sector and Disability. We offer a full range of very timely and cost-effective services and have a fluent French speaker.
Email: enquiries@albertsquaremediation.co.uk   Phone: 07476 279307