The term “mediation” broadly refers to any instance in which a third party helps others reach agreement. It is a dynamic, structured, interactive process where a neutral mediator assists disputing parties in resolving conflict through the use of specialized communication techniques. Mediation is a “party- centered” process in that it is focused primarily upon the needs, rights, and interests of the parties. The mediator uses a wide variety of techniques to guide the process in a constructive direction and to help the parties find their optimal solution. A mediator is facilitative in that s/he manages the interaction between parties and facilitates open communication. The mediator will analyze issues and relevant norms (“reality-testing”), while refraining from providing prescriptive advice to the parties. The objective of mediation is to allow parties to conclude disputes in a more satisfactory and mutually advantageous manner by focusing on their interests and objectives. The mediation process must be consensual (disputes are referred to mediation at the agreement of the parties – whether in advance by insertion of a mediation clause in the voluntary agreement or at the time the dispute arises) and confidential (conducted in a confidential environment). Mediation occurs on a “without prejudice” basis unless, and until, resolution is reached. As such, if no resolution is achieved, neither party may use or refer to any matters arising during the mediation in subsequent proceedings. Participation in district mediations is voluntary and all participants are expected to actively engage in the process.