3 Tips for When You Are More Like A Referee Than A Mediator

As the founder of The Family Imprint Institute, I’ve spent 15 years having working with a wide-range of clients, all at different stages of their relationship, I have learned what makes love thrive and what slowly tears it to pieces.

We all come from a family and when we join in partnership, these family stories come together and eventually collide.

Here are my top 3 tips for what to do when you end up feeling more like a referee than a mediator:

1 – Understanding the importance of the family imprint

The family you grew up in shapes your current relationship in ways that may surprise your clients. Your family of origin teaches you about love and conflict.
The importance of recognizing how much this shapes why many couples get stuck in the same arguments or hung up on details during the meditation process.

I begin each session with couples creating a 3-generation genogram for each person so that I can gain clarity on where the issues they are stuck on today, stem from, allowing for greater ease with the resolution process.

2 – Keep your clients focused on their part, instead of complaining about their partner.

Blame is the cheapest hit of power going.
Along with one of the best avoidance strategies out there.

If anger is the issue in the relationship, acknowledge the different styles of expression for each person in the relationship.

Quick-to-anger partners will need to find their own resources to respond differently to their triggers, instead of continuing to express it to the children or ex-partner.

The one on the receiving end of that angry response will do best focusing on their own boundaries and how to emotionally recover after the angry episodes.

Sustainable change comes from recognizing your part. Since we can only ever change ourselves, keep your clients strongly rooted in this place.


3 – Let the facts of the family guide you.

Keep your clients out of the story. As we recount that epic fight from a decade ago because that’s where the client believes everything started, all the same stress chemicals fire off in the re-telling of the experience.

We can’t tell the difference – on the inside – from an argument on the way to the session from one that happened 7 years ago.

This keeps your client, biochemically stuck in the pain, the problem, the hurt. Instead, we’re seeking creative, big-picture solutions for our clients that they can then bring home with them and apply from the first session forward.

Understanding what the hurt is connected to not only provides context but begins to build compassion and understanding. Pointing the work you are doing together in the direction of a resolution.