Family Systems Meets Family Mediation

© 2014 BY Lawrence D. Gaughan, J.D., LL.M.

A review by Lawrence Gaughan: During the academic year 1979-80 I was given the opportunity to take a sabbatical leave from Washington & Lee Law School for a year of residential study at the Georgetown Family Center.  It’s Director, Murray Bowen, M.D., was a psychiatrist who was one of the most influential founders of family systems theory.  That same year I took one of the first training courses in divorce mediation.

Divorce mediation was just getting started back then, and serious debates were taking place over the theory and practice of family systems.  From time to time after that year, as I continued to teach law and to practice family law and mediation, I was able to imagine the possibility of an intellectual “Holy Grail”.  That would be the vision of a viable way to integrate family systems theory into the effective practice of family mediation and family law.  As years passed, I found bits and snippets, but never anything comprehensive.

Now after all these years I think my search is ended.  Bill Eddy has just published an article in two parts entitled “Misunderstanding Family Systems in Today’s Divorces: Parts 1 & 2”.  Bill is one of the most experienced family mediators in America and is the leading expert in mediating with high conflict clients.  I highly recommend this article to every family mediator and every family court judge in the United States.

Bill’s article really is a “Holy Grail” for family mediators for two reasons: (1) it is the most accurate concise review of relevant family systems theory that I have ever read, and (2) it does a brilliant job of applying family systems analysis to help both family mediators and family courts effectively manage their cases.  Almost every paragraph contains one or more useful ideas for mediators and courts.

A groundbreaking article is one which redefines its subject so that the reader is able permanently to change how she or he deals with a particular kind of problem.  Bill’s article affords an insightful and original way to analyze and react to both familiar and new situations.  It’s one of the five or so best works relating to my areas of practice which I have read in the past 35 years.

Lawrence D. Gaughan, J.D., LL.M.

Professional Director

Family Mediation of Greater Washington

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