Guidance for Role-Players

The aim of the role-play is to give the mediator an environment in which they can practice and demonstrate their skills in mediation.

The role of the role-player is to provide a scenario that is believable and allows the mediator to develop and demonstrate all of their skills.

The role-player should

  • add some conflict in the beginning to give the mediator the opportunity to enforce their ground rules for respectful behaviour
  • be willing to discuss the issues during the exploration phase and negotiate during the negotiation phase. Embellish but don’t add major new facts or deliberate red herrings.
  • if an opportunity to collaborate hasn’t developed, after the private sessions allow for some points of agreement. Role plays don’t have to end in a full agreement for the mediator to be competent but be kind and reasonable. Give them something to write down but don’t hand the mediator a completely unrealistic resolution that is out of context
  • add a moderate level of emotion but do not have a meltdown or make it impossible for the mediation to continue

The role-player should not

  • add new surprise facts that would mean that the role play scenario is seriously distorted
  • don’t forget that while some role plays may indicate low levels of financial or English literacy the parties have been screened and have the ability to mediate without  agreed that their comprehension is sufficient for the mediation to occur. It is good to ask the mediator to explain jargon or complex language but be mindful of the flow of the mediation.
  • DO NOT dig your heels in and refuse to budge. All parties in our role plays should have an interest in reaching a resolution of the conflict
  • DO NOT throw away your interests and agree to anything and everything


These are role-plays, not real life. It is not about winning or losing. It’s about providing a believable role-play so that the mediator can demonstrate their skills and be fairly graded.

Risk screening has already occurred (unless you are doing a pre-mediation role play) so don’t behave in an extreme way.

It is beneficial for you to be a role player as you will gain personal experience of the mediation or FDR process and be able to see and feel what is effective or causes negative outcomes. You’ll also gain new insights while participating in the feedback at the end.

You will never win an Oscar for your role playing efforts so please keep your focus on helping your mediator by being a good role player.

The Grading Rubric

During the mediation your mediator will be attempting to demonstrate the following skills.

For the NMAS / Certificate in Mediation Course we use the NMAS criteria:

NMAS Assessment – (You’ll have to be logged in to canvas for this link to work.

FDR Assessment – the folder in the FDR course with the assessment guides and tools

Summary of the skills your mediator needs to demonstrate

  1. Communication Facilitation – did the mediator facilitate the exchange of information and effective communication between participants?
  2. Opening Statements and facilitation of process – they need to clarify roles, explain the process and groundrules, confidentiality and exclusions and the legal status of any agreement reached. Then they need to follow the process!
  3. Identified the issues in dispute and created a useful agenda – they must develop an agenda that is neutral and designed to increase options (not positional) and ensure that all issues are identified.
  4. Procedural Fairness / Private Sessions – during the private sessions they must remind parties that it is confidential at the start and finish, avoid the perception of bias (give each party the same time), make effective use of the private sessions and during the facilitation of the process give the parties equal opportunity to speak, be heard and present needs, interests and concerns?
  5. In FDR – determined Asset Pool or key Parenting Issues – efficiently helped the parties to identify the asset pool or children’s issues.
  6. Facilitated the acknowledgement of Considerations – helped the parties to articulate, recognise and acknowledge (if they are willing) the considerations that the other party would like them to take into account. (Interests based negotiation)
  7. Maintained future focus and the reality of the situation – encouraged the clients to focus on future options and contingencies and to generate and assess workable options.
  8. Best interests of the child (FDR) – reminded the parents that the best interests of the child are to have a meaningful relationship with both parents as long as it is safe to do so.
  9. Increased understand between parties – encouraged mutual personal understanding between the participants by assisting participants to acknowledge each other’s needs, fears and concerns and acknowledging willingness to resolve the dispute?
  10. Full consideration of options – assisted parties to generate and consider options and consider the long and short term consequence of their suggestions and plans.
  11. Agreement – assisted the clients to document outcomes and agreements. Explained the legal status of the agreement and how to make it legally binding and enforceable.
  12. Overall – effectively facilitated the process including provided accurate information throughout

Scoring the Rubric is for a guidance only

The course is competence based and the scores are for guidance only.  In general the grading rubric scoring is based on the ranges below.

0 Non Existent
1 Requires a lot of improvement to meet the course requirements
2 Significant improvement still needed or a specific major issue.
3 Good but could be improved
4 Above Average with some improvement possible
5 Excellent. No major improvements needed. You nailed it!



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