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Being a mediator is hard work Mediators must make meaningful connections with individuals without over-stepping bounds of impartiality, manage emotions without becoming emotionally invested, and empower decision-making without undermining self-determination. Decades of research into occupational stress, also known as "burnout," indicates that mediators not only are susceptible to burnout, but also that the symptoms of burnout undermine fundamental principles of quality mediation. For example, a burned-out mediator may exhibit narrow and uncreative thinking, diminished capacity to regulate emotions, compromised decision-making, and deficits in attention and memory.

The prospect of mediator burnout not only threatens the quality of mediation, but it also highlights shortcomings in the regulatory framework designed to provide mediation quality control. Despite considerable discussion about how to ensure mediators deliver quality service, the focus has been on molding newly minted mediators rather than those already practicing. And minimal attention is paid to the organizational structures in which mediators work This Article argues that the mediation community should use burnout research to target external stressors imposed by mediation workplaces. Understanding how workplace demands and resource shortages negatively affect mediators can inform new policies that protect good mediators from burning out and, in so doing, better enable the delivery of quality mediation.

Publication Citation

34 Ohio St. J. Disp. Res. 171 (2019).