MCDR Certification 


Certification is a requirement to practice in many professional communities; at MCDR we feel mediation should be no exception.  Since 1996 The Maryland Council for Dispute Resolution has pioneered the development and implementation of a performance based mediator assessment & certification program.  The assessment is performed during a role play by two highly trained and experienced mediator assessors.  The candidate should consider their assessment as a valuable tool with which to enhance and enrich their professional development.   To read more about the importance of assessment and certification view Ellen Kandell’s blog post

The Maryland Council for Dispute Resolution (MCDR)

is pleased to announce the next Mediator Assessment and Certification Program

on Saturday, June 2, 2018

1160 Spa Road, Suite 1-B. Annapolis, MD

MCDR’s performance-based assessment process is one of the most valuable skills development opportunities available to mediators in the US and is recognized internationally by the International Mediation Institute (IMI).  Since 1996, MCDR has provided a performance-based assessment and certification program that is considered a national model in the ongoing dialogue on quality assurance and mediator credentials.  It is one of the few qualifying mediator assessment programs in the country that is recognized by the International Mediation Institute.


The core of the assessment/certification process is a one hour videotaped mediation role-play during which the candidate mediates a case with two parties and is reviewed by two MCDR certified assessors.  Using a widely tested skills assessment instrument designed by Family Mediation Canada, and adapted by MCDR with permission, the two assessors independently assess mediator candidates on three dimensions:  how they manage the process of mediation, how they manage the content of the mediation, and how they manage the relationships of the parties.  Candidates may choose from several different types of role-plays, including a divorce/custody case, a workplace dispute, a civil case, or a community dispute.

All candidates receive oral feedback from role players and assessors as well as written assessments and a DVD of their one-hour mediation. Candidates who do not satisfy the criteria for certification are invited to participate in the process again within one year at no additional cost.


Send your completed application, one-page self-statement and application fee ($325 for MCDR members; $395 for non-members) to:  MCDR, c/o Kate Cullen, 1160 Spa Road, Suite 1-B, Annapolis, MD  21403.

Application deadline is May 22, 2018.

Please click on the links below for application materials:

     Certification Application

     Self Statement


Mediators who are interested in discussing the assessment process are welcome to contact MCDR Certification Committee Chairperson Kate Cullen 301-606-4578


Participating as a role player is a great way to observe how the process works before becoming a candidate.  To volunteer as a role player or for more information, please contact, Ramona Buck at or 443-418-0392.


1. What is Certification?

An MCDR Certified Mediator has demonstrated to neutral observers that they meet the highest standards of practice in the field.

The Maryland Council for Dispute Resolution (MCDR) is one of the few credentialing entities in the entire country that certifies mediators based upon the mediator’s demonstrated performance. MCDR is the oldest mediation practitioner group in Maryland and has been certifying mediators for over 15 years. Over that period of time, MCDR has refined its certification process and has been used by the circuits courts in Maryland to assess mediators.

2. How does MCDR evaluate mediators for certification?

MCDR’s performance based assessment requires the mediator to demonstrate competencies within 9 different areas of the mediation process, including ethical aspects. MCDR’s peer review occurs in a laboratory setting in which the mediator demonstrates their skills in a live role-play mediation while two highly seasoned assessors look on. Both assessors must award a passing score for MCDR Certification.  The rubrick that is used to evaluate candidates can be found here.

3. How can one become certified by MCDR?

To be certified by MCDR, a mediator must have significant mediation experience and training. Those two requirements alone are not enough. MCDR requires the mediator to submit to a rigorous peer review of their performance by two highly trained assessors who themselves have significant mediation training and experience. In this review of their performance, the mediator must demonstrate skills and practices of the highest caliber. If both assessors indicate in their scoring that the mediator has met that standard, then and only then will MCDR award that mediator "Certification."

4. What kind of certification does the state of Maryland provide?

Mediation is unregulated and unlicensed in Maryland. Anyone can claim to be a mediator whether trained or not. And anyone can claim to be certified when they are not.  Most mediation training programs give their attendees paper certificates of completion. These verify completion of training hours, and are different than a performance-based assessment of skills.  Many mediators say they are certified by the courts in Maryland --- this actually means they have met the Court’s minimal training and experience requirements and are on a Court panel allowing them to receive referrals for court-ordered mediation.

5. How does MCDR certification compare to credentials earned from other organizations of the state of Maryland?

It is fortuitous that mediation has been growing by leaps and bounds over the past 30 years. In Maryland alone, hundreds of new mediators are trained every year.

There are other credentialing agencies that issue certification, and some of them are now using the MCDR model of performance based assessment.  Others, such as the Association for Conflict Resolution, base their credentialing on years of practice and numbers of cases mediated, as well as letters of reference, and training hours.  MCDR's is unique because it requires the mediator to demonstrate real skills in a simulated role play experience.

On a More Personal Note

The following reflection was written by Barbara Williams, Past Chair of the Certification Committee.

“Why should I take another assessment which really won’t give me anything I don’t already have?” I asked myself.

To my great surprise, I found that the obvious answer was the true one for me:  personal and professional growth.

In thinking about how this growth happens during the process, four particular attributes—and benefits--of the assessment process came to mind.

First is the foundation of the process:  the one page self-statement.  Short is hard.  It requires you to pare down to the bare bones.  I found the experience enormously helpful in articulating what I believe the process of mediation is about and why.  And the sense in which the statement is now a part of myself is invaluable in becoming purposeful during practice.  What’s more, for someone with test anxiety, the exercise shifted the focus from external assessment to internal discovery. 

Second is the experience of the role play, itself.  Mediation is a very forgiving process, and this truth is personified in the role players.  They are wonderful, forgiving, supportive and encouraging.  The point, after all, is to learn.  And, in their roles, I have found, they are authentic.  The conversation really does belong to them, and, in their roles, they are looking for some gain for their effort.  They were all generous and constructive in sharing the impact of my moves as mediator in helping them to realize their purpose. 

Third, were the assessors who engaged me as wise mentors in deep reflection about what just played out in this process we call mediation and  what the answer to that question might mean for practice.  They shared with me a wealth of feedback, most of which helped me to find my own way forward to do better whatever it was I thought I was trying to. 

Even where, once or twice, I may have disagreed with perspectives shared by the assessors, the conversation helped to make clear a richness of possibility in our differences.  It’s not about one right way.  Like branches shooting in different directions from a common trunk rooted in fertile soil, I was deeply appreciative that we all shared a fundamental, deep respect for the individuals who were trusting us to help them make their own decisions.   

Finally, the fourth benefit of the process was personal.  I valued the opportunity through the certification process to discover changes that might make me better as a mediator.  I came to appreciate, though, that, in many cases, these discoveries mirrored changes that might make me more effective in other roles with family and friends.   

Credibility, respect of my peers, validation:  all are worthwhile benefits of the process.  For me, the deepest benefit was an awareness that there is an integration between who I am or try to be both as a mediator and as a person:   attentive, empathic, curious, responsive, and caring. 

If you have any questions about the process please call: 

Kate Cullen, Committee Chairperson, e-mail:

(301) 606-4578



Maryland Council for Dispute Resolution
10319 Westlake Drive, Suite 247
 Bethesda, Maryland   20817

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MCDR is the oldest membership-based organization in Maryland dedicated to promoting the use of mediation and supporting

the mediation profession.  We have a proud history of successfully advocating for allowing multiple professions to practice mediation,

halting attempts to restrict the practice some fifteen years ago.  MCDR is the first organization to establish performance based criteria

now in use as a national model, part of an ongoing dialogue on quality assurance and mediator credentials.

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