Hello, friends and supporters of the Understanding-Based Model. 2023 is shaping to be an exciting year for the Center for Understanding in Conflict as we expand programming and training opportunities to support conflict resolution and mediation professionals. In addition to our live training on the East and West Coast, we are launching a new online Workplace Mediation certificate program in response to the increased demand for professional perspectives in mediation. We applaud our Teacher Trainee cohort as they move into a second year and welcome increased participation from our members through our new interactive webinars, a feature requested by our CUC Connect Members, who we thank for their ongoing support.

A training series will be launching in March for those looking to start or expand an ADR practice, with an upcoming webinar on creating peer support groups to sustain them. We continue to add new perspectives through The Other Chair podcast and our new From Understanding to Impact series, which aims to share even more about the work our trainers and members are doing to advance understanding at home and abroad.

From all of us here at the Center, we wish you a prosperous and productive new year filled with opportunities for growth and development. 

Katherine Miller



Ukrainian Mediators Work to Bring Understanding to Conflict Despite Challenges Faced by Ongoing War

By James Dykeman

When Ukrainian mediator Tatyana Bilyk approached the Center for Understanding in Conflict (CUC) about conducting training for conflict-resolution professionals still operating in a war-torn country, the organization’s co-founder, Gary Friedman, had to pause to consider how to advise mediators working in such a tumultuous environment.

“I was quite intimidated,” Friedman said. “I’d never worked on a program with people at war.”

Friedman and longtime colleague and Zen Buddhist priest Norman Fischer tried to imagine what it was like in Ukraine and the unique challenges mediators faced while attempting to bring together parties in conflict embroiled in the uncertainty and violence of war.

“We talked a lot about how to humble ourselves,” Friedman said. “Besides the agony, they were surely experiencing, we didn’t know what the participants would be like or what they already knew. It was a big unknown, so we had a lot of conversations about how to bring ourselves into the moment and see where it went.”


Years before, Bilyk, now a mediator, trainer, and supervisor at the Mediation School, League of Mediators of Ukraine, and the Association of Family Mediators of Ukraine, was accredited by the Centre for Effective Dispute Resolution in the United Kingdom as a business mediator and from MiKK eV International Mediation Center for Family Conflict and Child Abduction as a family mediator. In 2010, she began to develop a mediation practice centered on working with families.

“Working with families made me realize that the tools I had learned mediating business disputes were not as effective in helping people in everyday life,” Bilyk said. “Since family mediation was not as developed in Ukraine then, I began looking beyond our borders for practical training.”

Bilyk’s search led her to multiple mediation models, including Robert A. Baruch Bush’s book The Promise of Mediation and the understanding-based approach of CUC co-founders Gary Friedman and Jack Himmelstein in Challenging Conflict: Mediation Through Understanding.

“Thus began my love for Gary’s practice,” Bilyk said. “At that period of my practice, I had just touched on the issues of self-reflection and understanding, but he already had a whole model clearly explaining the processes.”



Broken Trust: Breaking the Cycle of Words Without Action

By James Dykeman

People say “talk is cheap” because words come easily, don’t cost a thing, and can be used as an apparent quick fix to a thorny problem. Salespeople overcome objections with fanciful responses designed to put an unsure mind at ease. Politicians always seem to know what to say to distract, divert, or derail an uncomfortable truth that’s come to the public’s attention. “Talk is cheap” typically comes up in our personal lives when someone repeatedly says they will or will not do something and the promised outcome does not materialize. These promises, and their resulting expectations, fail to hold beyond their initial creation. They fade away, only to be replaced by the same behavior and another round of apologies, promises and expectations of real, sustained change – this time.

There’s no easy fix to cheap talk. Very often, the act of admitting fault or guilt is hard. Even when it is necessary to prevent a relationship or life circumstance from completely falling apart, relinquishing “your truth” and acknowledging a different reality is tough. And when faced with the conflict that may come in return, it feels like an insurmountable obstacle. A proper and sincere apology can be a step towards restoring trust. Of equal importance, those harmed may have peace if they can find forgiveness. Coming to a place of apology, accountability and forgiveness takes a lot of understanding, communication, and a willingness to face the problem. Only after reaching this point can the real work begin – building trust and moving forward in a long-term and meaningful way.



Animals at the Center of Conflict

When relationships end, there is often a lot of discussion, consideration, and animosity regarding children. But what happens when a pet dog, cat, or horse hangs in the balance?

Expert Debra Hamilton discusses how the court system doesn't often consider the life of the pet and the role that pet-based mediation brings in bridging the gap. Learn how an understanding-based approach can help people find harmony and ultimately create a better outcome for the furry friends so many people call their own. 



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


January 27 - 28 & February 2 - 4

Sept. 27 & 28 and Oct. 5 - 7

West Coast - Green Gulch, CA

March 23 - 26   

November 15 - 19   

East Coast - White Plains, NY

May 3 - 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.


Workplace Mediation

40-Hour Conflict Resolution and Mediation Training

In this gold standard mediation training, adapted for workplace mediators, learn how to support parties working through conflict or engaging in other important conversations in a different way. 

Our participants include mediators, collaborative professionals, business consultants, executive coaches, managers and supervisors, human resources professionals, ombuds-people, non-profit staff, and other people whose work will be enhanced by increased skills in conflict resolution. 



Forgiveness can be a powerful force for restoring harmony and wholeness. A harmed person can find their freedom in practicing forgiveness. It can also empower them to move toward an amicable solution and allow the rebuilding of a fractured relationship.

However, many of us have a powerful instinct that a process that supports forgiveness without supporting accountability can be problematic, unhelpful, or worse.

As conflict professionals, how can we balance methods and options for an agreement that supports both taking responsibility and supporting forgiveness?


In this interactive webinar, Gary Friedman and Kim Gordon will discuss the value and benefits of starting a peer group for mediators and ADR practitioners.

Drawing from decades of experience in conflict resolution and mediation, centered on the understanding-based model, Friedman and Gordon will share their process for forming peer groups and their foundational importance for developing mediation practices and guidance for creating excellent sources of support in collaborative professional support and self-reflection groups.

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

CUC Connect Members

January Featured Webinar

Sometimes in negotiations, whether it’s a mediation or collaborative session or other forms of negotiation, someone gets upset or feels unappreciated or insulted. Or they can’t believe what the other person just said and they feel very strong emotions, at which point they just get up and storm out. Katherine Miller talks about what to do when the storm out happens.

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