Workshop Descriptions

Friday Workshop

The Legacy and Contributions of Dr. Constance Ahrons

Speakers: Dr. Debra Dupree and Terri Breer, Esq.

Dr. Debra Dupree and Terri Breer will present an informative workshop that will highlight the career of Dr. Constance Ahrons, author of The Good Divorce and We’re Still Family. Topics will include Dr. Ahrons’ coining of the term “Binuclear Family”, her “kinship model” of divorce, and her co-parenting typology that identifies the five co-parenting styles. Her groundbreaking longitudinal research over 20 years and the impact of her findings will be featured. Dr. Ahrons led the way in removing the stigma of divorce and her efforts at normalizing divorce have inspired divorce professionals since the publication of The Good Divorce in 1994. Participants in this workshop will learn how to use her innovative divorce strategies and parenting solutions in their mediation practices.

Dr. Debra Dupree

Terri Breer, Esq.

Saturday Keynote Plenary

The Art of Mediation: A Reflection on Four Decades of Becoming a Professional Family Mediator

Speaker: Chip Rose

The keynote address will identify the most important lessons and strategic interventions learned over forty two years of mediating relationship conflict. Through the work and passion of pioneers like Chip Rose, and the wisdom of his experience, the culture of divorce continues to be positively transformed for the benefit of children and families everywhere. 

Chip Rose

Saturday Workshops

Legal Advice, Legal Information, Legal Fiction

Speaker: Professor Stephanie Blondell

What is Legal Advice? What is Legal Information? Is the answer the same if you are mediating with represented parties or pro pers? What is the Unauthorized Practice of Law? What activities trigger the  Attorney-Client Relationship? This workshop provides an overview of the ethical rules and statutes that govern the issue.  What is informed decision-making in the context of family law mediations? How does the dissemination of information in a highly regulated context impact this fundamental policy question? After providing this foundation, we will, most importantly, look at the table skills we utilize as mediators to encourage the parties’ informed decisions while avoiding ethical pitfalls. 

Professor Stephanie Blondell

Emerging Asset Classes: Cryptocurrency, Digital Assets and Social Media Influence

Speakers: Terri Breer, Esq. and Laura McGee

With over 50 years of combined experience in divorce mediation Ms. Breer and Ms. McGee will discuss what mediators need to know about the new assets classes that divorce professionals will increasingly encounter as the volume and popularity of cryptocurrencies, NFT’s, digital assets and virtual income streams continue to grow.  Topics discussed will include proving ownership, valuation and division, recent Case Law, regulatory provisions, gathering documentation, and taxation.  Ms. McGee and Ms. Breer will share examples from their respective cases that will illustrate the challenges and creative ways of handling this asset class in divorce.

Terri Breer, Esq.

Laura McGee J.D.

It's a Big World Out There: Innovative Ways to Integrate Support Professionals in Mediation

Speakers: Forrest “Woody” Mosten and Susan Guthrie

Family Mediators have long worked with other professionals in their area to help their clients with the support that they might need during the process. Financial professionals, therapists, coaches and attorneys and co-mediators  are often brought into the process when some guidance is helpful or one or both parties need additional support.  With our newly virtual world, we can now bring in colleagues from around the world to act as support and we can also implement innovative new protocols for our clients to interview and choose their own professionals who can participate in cutting edge roles.  This workshop will help us think beyond the geographic boundaries of our locale when we see a need for client support and to incorporate a more client centered approach to selecting those integrative professionals.

Woody Mosten

Susan Guthrie

Skill Building Workshops


The Big Rocks: Preparing Your Clients for Settlement

Speaker: Shawn Weber

Are your clients butting heads?  Are settlement discussions going nowhere fast?  One of the blocks to settlement is a fundamental disconnect on the values and goals of the parties.  What if you approached this in a different way?  This workshop teaches you how to help clients identify their shared values and goals early on in the mediation process.  Having an agreed foundation on which to base agreements helps to keep everyone focused when it comes time to consider settlement options during negotiation.  Join us to consider the Big Rocks.

Shawn Weber

Get Sticky with It: Using Short Simple Ideas to Keep Coparents Child-Centered

Speaker: Christina McGhee and Kelly Myers

Ever wonder what it takes to get separating couples to focus on their children instead of each other?  Feel like you offer them sound guidance only to discover it went in one ear and out the other?  Wish you had some way to make what you share stick with your clients?  Then this is the workshop for you.

In this fun, interactive and engaging workshop you will:

  • Learn the six principles of sticky ideas. 
  • Explore why short and simple has more staying power.
  • Find out how stress and crisis impact communication and retention. 
  • Discover how to leverage stickiness and move clients towards child-centered decision making. 
  • Exchange ideas with colleagues that will help you identify what’s working and what’s not. 
  • Gain sticky skills you can start using right away with clients.

Christina McGhee

Kelly Myers

The Negotiation Cycle

Speakers: Shawn Weber

Do you feel like your clients are going around in circles and getting nowhere? Are you at a loss as to how to help them? The unique FRI Negotiation Cycle breaks it down for you and teaches you how the cycle can be used to effectively negotiate through any issue. Understanding the cycle helps you stay focused and move clients through the process to a successful resolution. This workshop breaks down each step of the Negotiation Cycle. You get hands-on practice in a mock case study with real time feedback. Join us for this fun and interactive workshop. Master the Negotiation Cycle!

Shawn Weber

Sunday Keynote Plenary

Relational Conflict Theory: Why It Matters for Family Mediators

Speaker: Louise Phipps Senft

While we all have the capacity to settle cases as mediators, the capacity we can unlock is fostering and creating lasting change for our clients.  Every mediation presents a new invitation for a mediator to support this change by making counter-egoic decisions.  All the ingredients are there in every session, in every interaction, for client transformation; all that is needed to foster the potential is a relational lens.  We are thrilled to welcome Louise Phipps Senft, author of Being Relational: the Seven Ways to Quality Interaction & Lasting Change for a stimulating keynote on the discovery and application of a mediator’s relational mindset.  We look forward to considering our own belief systems and exploring a relational worldview that has the potential to be the most important asset in a mediation, often hidden because of the conflict, but also in plain sight because of the conflict.  

Louise comes to us from the East Coast, having mediated 1000’s of complex family, divorce, and commercial mediations, including the celebrated Kloiber vs Kloiber tax case in Kentucky and Delaware. She is married and the mother of 5 grown children, including a son who was catastrophically injured in 2015 and is now paralyzed from the neck down.  She knows how life can change in the blink of an eye.  You can hear her as a storyteller on her weekly Podcast: Blink of an Eye, ranked as a top 15 Podcast in Spinal Cord Injury, which is chock full of mediator wisdom, trauma healing learnings, and relational navigation tips through medical crisis, believing in what is possible and creating a hope filled new-normal.    

Louise Phipps Senft

Screening of Ellen Bruno’s film, Split Up - The Teen Years, a follow-up to the SPLIT film

The SPLIT kids are older, wiser, and very excited to be part of this new project! These teens and young adults have much wisdom and life experience to share with other young people, parents, and professionals.

Closing Keynote Plenary

From Fringe to Forefront: How the Shift from Alternative to Consensual Dispute Resolution Has Transformed Divorce and Saved Divorce Professionals from Burnout

Speaker: Fern Topas Salka

Ms. Salka, a still practicing family law attorney for almost 50 years, looks back on the history of divorce, the way social phenomena have shifted the legal process, some tools that divorce professionals can access to better serve their clients and themselves and the outlook for the future of divorce practice. This closing session will be your opportunity to reassess the way you work and to re-energize your practice.

Fern Topas Salka

Register for the Family Mediation Institute 2022