divorce mediator attachment stylesMight divorce mediator attachment styles in their own romantic relationships have any bearing on mediator effectiveness in divorce mediations?

Two previous posts provided adult attachment and attachment style basics, drawing on the book “Attached – The New Science of Adult Attachment and How It Can Help You Find – and Keep – Love” by Levine and Heller. Another previous post focused on attachment styles and their impact on divorce and divorce mediation.

Divorce Mediator Attachment Styles

Many factors go into the demeanor and approach that a mediator brings to divorce mediation. I speculate here that divorce mediator attachment styles in their own intimate relationships may play a role in this regard. In part this is because our attachment style forms an important component of our basic make-up in relation to other people. In addition, a divorce mediation brings the mediator into the intimate relationship of the spouses, even though they are now divorcing.  Even though a divorce mediator will normally do their best to keep their own leanings, biases and emotional reactions out of the way, it seems quite possible for divorce mediator attachment styles to become activated in the presence of such intimacy.

Benefits of a Secure Attachment Style

Here are several reasons why I think it would be best (and perhaps even important) for a divorce mediator to have a secure attachment style:

  1. This provides comfort with intimacy and the expression of the wide-ranging feelings and concerns that are part of an intimate relationship. This comfort facilitates genuine openness to whatever either spouse needs to express and wherever the mediation process needs to go to address the needs, interests, concerns and feelings of the spouses.
  1. A secure attachment style, being between the two poles of avoidant and anxious styles, is most able not only to relate to both of these styles but to provide a bridge for them to meet each other. The secure style will tend to soothe the anxiously-attached and relax the avoidant and provide healthy boundaries for both of them.
  1. People with secure attachment styles tend to be good at what the book above calls “effective communication.” Such communication is genuine, heartfelt, non-threatening, open and direct. Not only can this type of communication help the spouses discover and say what they want and need to say, it also models this type of communication for them. This can help them put aside unhelpful ways of communicating with each other.
  1. People with secure attachment styles are most likely to be comfortable in the face of intimate relationship conflict and be able to face it openly and head on. With reaction to the conflict minimized, they will be more able to draw effectively upon their skills as mediators.

In contrast, a mediator with an avoidant attachment style may well consciously or unconsciously restrain or put unhelpfully limiting boundaries around the expression and flow of the spouses in the mediation. Similarly, a mediator with an anxious attachment style may have some timidness or get overly drawn in.

Having learned recently about adult attachment myself, I suggest that it is worthwhile for a mediator to learn about and reflect on their own attachment style and any possible impact it may have in their divorce mediations. If a mediator realizes that they do not have a secure attachment style and would prefer to have one, it is possible to shift in this direction. The book above and others provide suggestions and guidance in this regard.

There are of course a number of other factors which go into the make-up of a good divorce mediator besides divorce mediator attachment styles.