April marks the beginning of Spring, which hopefully means more sunshine and clear skies wherever you call home. As we finished our first (and wettest) training at Green Gulch last month, after meeting new people and learning new ideas and reasons for addressing conflict, we were struck by how we are continually inspired by the goals being set toward making an impact in the lives of others. In response, we want to take a moment to recognize and acknowledge how many extraordinary, passionate individuals have chosen to learn about the understanding-based approach as part of their efforts to bring people in conflict together across an ever-widening field of need from all sectors of our society and across the world.

Whether you have just completed your first basic training or are many years along working to adapt and impact individuals across the broad spectrum of legal, professional, nonprofit, corporate, or community arenas, we are passionately dedicated to supporting you on your journey. We may not have all the answers, but after over 40 years, we do have quite a few, and we welcome the opportunity to provide additional guidance and ongoing support. 

We also encourage you to share your experiences with us and the broader community so that others can learn about your work while gaining insight and inspiration from your experience bringing human issues to the table, wherever that may be.


James Dykeman



The Dynamics of Conflict: A Guide to Engagement and Intervention by Bernard S. Mayer

The Dynamics of Conflict: A Guide to Engagement and Intervention by Bernard S. Mayer is a comprehensive and practical guide for conflict resolution and mediation professionals. Mayer has structured the book in a way that is easy to follow and provides clear explanations of complex concepts related to conflict dynamics, negotiation, and mediation.

One of the strengths of this book is that it emphasizes the importance of understanding the underlying causes of conflict. Mayer provides numerous examples and case studies to illustrate key concepts and techniques throughout the book while providing a framework for analyzing the root causes of conflict, which helps mediators to develop a deeper understanding of parties’ perspectives and interests. This approach enables mediators to design effective interventions that address the underlying issues and promote sustainable solutions.



Addressing the elephant in the room: Take trampling off the table while removing the element of surprise

How do we approach a conflict scenario when the odds seem stacked against us? This imbalance can seem most plain when a person with apparent wealth sits across from someone with few financial resources. In this scenario, as often plays out in the courts, those with the most money to throw behind the situation have the best odds of success. What happens when the scales seem balanced, and two individuals of similar class and position are divided over an issue? Who prevails, then?

It’s essential for conflict resolution professionals, at least through the understanding-based approach, not to look at a conflict scenario as a battle between two people but as an opportunity to potentially bring two parties together to facilitate a mutually beneficial outcome. But before we get to where we can help shift the paradigm from contest to collaboration, we must address the dynamics already in play when we enter the room. There are elements to consider that surround people, which create friction, distance, or an unwillingness to be open due to an outsized belief that resources are waiting to be drawn upon, which can force the other side to capitulate.



Conflict is Inevitable, Combat is Optional

For many attorneys entering the legal profession, the reality that the system isn't as caring or altruistic as hoped can lead to disillusionment and a change of occupation.

Join attorney, mediator, and teacher Ivan Alter on The Other Chair as he shares his experience overcoming the challenges of the adversarial system and how his transition to a career centered in mediation helped recapture a lifelong desire to be a force for positive change and healing for people who may see litigation as the only alternative to overcoming the conflicts that divide them.



Working Creatively with Conflict

40-Hour Basic Mediation and Conflict Resolution Training

Our flagship experiential certificate training program centered around the Understanding-Based Model. 

Realistic simulations, in which participants work through mediations from beginning to end, with coaching from our teachers, offer participants the chance to hone their skills and experience the emotional challenges faced by parties in dispute. Participants describe these different learning modes and their interplay as enjoyable, engaging, and rewarding.

2023 Training Dates

West Coast - Green Gulch, CA

November 15 - 19 


Sept. 27 & 28 and Oct. 5 - 7


Your Next Steps:

Launching Your Understanding-Based ADR Work


You have taken a conflict resolution training and want to add consensual dispute resolution to your existing practice or start a new practice, what next?

This three-part series will help you explore your motivations, professional goals, opportunities and challenges. This will be an interactive process with exercises and briefings on practical aspects of starting and/or incorporating ADR into a practice or your work and bringing people in the door. You will leave with a concrete action plan to develop the next phase of your work.


Resources come in many forms, not just material possessions. In a conflict, the party with more knowledge, time, money, social capital, or something else can wield outsized control and power in the process and outcome.

Join Katherine Miller and Gary Friedman on April 18th to learn what we, as conflict professionals, can do to create balance, ensure active, meaningful participation in the process, and promote developments that serve both parties.



In every situation, we exist in relationship to others. The groups we all belong to – and our membership and place within them – impact interactions, expectations of each other, options, and outcomes. In a conflict resolution process, we know that awareness of social hierarchies and their impact on parties and us is critical.

Join Gary Friedman and Melanie Rowen on May 8th to learn how to consider these existing social systems in creating the process and address stumbling blocks as they arise.


Support the Center for Understanding in Conflict with a CUC Connect Membership and enjoy free interactive webinars, training discounts, and more!

CUC Connect Members

April Featured Webinar

Now that you have taken some of our trainings, watched webinars, and/or read our books, you may be inspired and hoping to incorporate our model into your work.

During this hour, Catherine Conner explains how to use the understanding-based approach in different ways when working with people in conflict and how to build a professional practice that reflects your aspirations.

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