Conflict & disagreement

Conflict and disagreement are a natural part of our relationships with others. Mostly we are able to resolve conflict easily and by ourselves, but sometimes we just can’t do it on our own. We need help.

When a conflict or disagreement seems un-resolvable, the assistance of a professional mediator can be invaluable. A psychologist or counselling professional who practices in conflict resolution can literally help you solve your problem or come to an understanding or agreement that is satisfactory for everyone involved.

Couples counselling or relationship therapy is highly suited to personal situations and in particular romantic relationships, and it can be highly valuable for ongoing relationships or personality conflicts. But we don’t always feel comfortable talking to a counsellor about a work or business relationship – and sometimes a particular dispute or disagreement just needs a clear and determinable aid to resolution – that’s where a mediation consultant can help.

Common problems

If you have a problem you need to resolve, you can use our mediation or dispute resolution service.

Common problems brought to mediation include:

  • a dispute between siblings over a Will or funeral arrangements
  • a disagreement between family members over the sale or running of a family business
  • a conflict between work colleagues
  • a dispute over a partnership arrangement.

Corporations regularly engage us for mediation as part of their EAP counselling service.

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What causes conflict and how can mediation help?

The most common causes of conflict are:

  1. misunderstandings and mis-communication between the parties
  2. emotions, which tend to get in the way of our own practical dispute resolution skills
  3. different styles of communication
  4. difference in values and expectations

The most common barriers to conflict resolution are:

  1. blame
  2. willingess or unwillingness to resolve the problem (being stubborn)
  3. issues around power and power imbalance
  4. lack of clear and supportive processes for dispute resolution.

Sometimes, as we go about trying to resolve conflict, we are met with unhelpful responses from either or both parties. These unhelpful responses include:

  1. denial (of a problem, or denial of one’s role in creating the conflict)
  2. withdrawal (similar to denial, one party or both withdraw from the disagreement thereby disabling any capacity for bi-lateral resolution)
  3. resentment (accepting a resolution that feels unsatisfactory or wrong and harbouring resentment against the other party)
  4. internalisation (experiencing guilt or self-blame for the conflict)
  5. projection (blaming others for the conflict, and failing to acknowledge ones’ own part in the creation of conflict)
  6. co-ercion or aggression.

Mediation is a process of negotiation, with a third party present. The psychologist or professional counsellor/mediator will start by mapping the conflict so that it is well understood by all parties, including the mediator herself. The mediator will then design options for resolution and help the parties to broaden their perspectives and encourage co-operation.  The psychologists or counsellors’ unique skill in this role is to identify and reveal what is important to each person involved in the conflict, so that they can facilitate or arbitrate a resolution that meets everyone needs.

Mediation is not that different to counselling, but a conflict resolution process will normally be:

  • shorter than counselling
  • more focused on a specific outcome
  • more structured and less fluid than counselling
  • future focused, with no or little enquiry into the past
  • focused on the conflict dynamic, without detailed consideration of other systems of psychology or emotion or relation which might be impacting the situation

Despite its differences, both mediation and counselling aim to be EMPOWERING, CONFIDENTIAL and FAIR.

Our Sydney mediation and conflict resolution service is provided by a qualified and experienced professional psychologist. Contact Associated Counsellors & Psychologists Sydney to determine the likely length and structure of the mediation process required to solve your conflict, and whether or not more than one session will be required.

Our Services

We offer a variety of services dealing with wellbeing and mental health. Select from one of the options below for further details.