Trauma Informed Practice [TIP]

The word “trauma” comes from the Greek word meaning wound.  Dr. Gabor Maté is a Canadian physician, internationally recognized as an expert on trauma and its effects.  Dr. Maté talks about trauma asthe invisible force that shapes our lives.  It shapes the way live, they way we love and the way we make sense of the world.  It is the root of our deepest wounds“.  Learn more about Dr. Gabor Maté on our Resources Page that features the intro to his film, The Wisdom of Trauma

TIP promotes safety, structure, control, empowerment, and choice for the participants in a neutral, transparent, and balanced process.  A TIP practice focuses on understanding and supporting participants individual circumstances, which may include trauma experiences, and mental health, addiction and substance use concerns.

TIP means understanding the neurobiological trauma and how it shows up in individuals.  How each party has been affected by past and ongoing trauma will affect their ability to engage, communicate and make informed decisions.  There is an optimum window/zone of tolerance where our thinking brain is engaged most effectively.  Outside of that zone our brains are reactive and any decisions made are not fully informed.  See Zone of Tolerance Illustration

A good mediator should understand the basics of trauma, addiction, substance use and mental health.  It is also important to be aware of how different populations and cultures experience and deal with trauma.  The focus is on education and awareness.  It is not a practitioner’s job to diagnose trauma, mental health or addiction / substance use issues.  We strive to be more effective in helping participants understand how their individual trauma is affecting their ability to communicate and resolve their conflict.

Trauma untreated is trauma transmitted.    We repeat what we do not repair.

We encourage our clients to seek out appropriate counselling or therapies to assist them in dealing with their past or ongoing traumas.  There are many practitioners out there that take a trauma-informed approach.  Some people benefit from talk therapy.  Others respond more favourably to a gentle physical approach that works directly to calm the fight, flight and freeze responses being triggered by high stress or trauma.  Meridian Tapping (Emotional Freedom Techniques – EFT) is a gentle, self-applied acupressure technique that you can learn to help you navigate through stressful situations.

If you’re looking for this type of service our company highly recommends:

 Janice Smylie CCHT, NLP, TFT, EFT
Clinical Hypnotherapist,
EFT Practitioner Trainer, Coach & Practitioner

The 4 Core Principals / Practices of TIP are:

1. Trauma Awareness

A TIP practitioner needs to be aware of and understand trauma and its effects on individuals and groups.  In a 2008 a study found that 76% of all Canadians have some form of trauma and that 9.2% meet the criteria for PTSD. Trauma is not about what has happened to you, it is your internal (emotional/psychological) response to a traumatic experience.  Trauma can be defined as a physical or emotional experience that overwhelms and is beyond a person’s ability to cope with.  Trauma results in a fundamental reorganization of the way the mind and brain manage perceptions.  One example is that following a traumatic event a person’s perception of physical or emotional safety may shift.  It not only changes how we think and what we think about but also our very capacity to think.

There are many kinds of trauma, including single incident [PTSD], Complex trauma [C-PTSD], childhood / development trauma, intergenerational trauma, historical / colonial trauma, and secondary or vicarious trauma.  The most important thing is not the kind of trauma experiences an individual has had but how they cope with that trauma and what residual symptoms or triggers that they are dealing with.

2. Safety and Trustworthiness

This deals with the physical and emotional safety of participants and related parties as well as the trustworthiness of the practitioner and the process.

3. Choice, collaboration, empowerment, and connection

These are attained via engagement, self-determination, and addressing any power imbalances.

4. Strengths based and skill building

Resiliency and coping skills are developed by teaching and modeling where possible.

Our TIP Process

Our process focuses on supporting individual needs in a neutral, transparent, balanced, accommodating, and empowering manner.  We use a “power with” and not “power over” practice in the mediation phase of our ADR practices.  We avoid assigning judgement or blame to any participant and instead recognize that they are doing the best they can given their individual circumstances.  Judging or blaming participants with high conflict or other challenging behaviours is counter-productive at best.  It is important for a mediator to understand that some difficult or maladaptive behaviours may be a protective or survival response to current or past trauma. 

When exploring solutions with high conflict participants, a quote by Arthur C. Brooks, a Harvard professor, author, and social scientist provides food for thought, “No one in history has ever been insulted into agreement.”

 “No one in history has ever been insulted into agreement.”    ~  Arthur C. Brooks


What is it?

Mediation is a collaborative, problem-solving approach that addresses conflict with the assistance of a neutral third-party (mediator), in a fair, positive and balanced manner.

Types of Mediation

There are many different types of mediation.  We generally use an interest based, facilitative type of mediation that may include educational or transformative aspects.  If specifically requested, our practitioners may agree to an evaluative mediation where the mediator listens to each party and then provides their opinion on the strengths and weaknesses of each party’s position.

Role of Mediator

The mediator is trained to help facilitate communication between the parties and to guide the parties to their own settlement.  All discussions in mediation are on a without prejudice basis and are confidential so what is discussed can’t be used in further court or other proceedings.  The parties work through their matter using discussion, negotiation, compromise, and creative thinking.  If a solution is reached the result is a non-binding mediation agreement that both parties have had input in and agreed to.  The mediation agreement is then confirmed in court, or by a consent arbitration award or by some other form of formal agreement with independent legal advice.

Advantages of Mediation

  • The participants have full control over the procedure and the final decision.  They are not relying on a third party to make a decision for them.
  • The cost can be significantly less than court litigation.
  • Mediation allows for a separate premeditation session with each participant where individual needs, traumas, and general concerns can be addressed in a safe and supportive environment.
  • The relationship between the participants and / or business partners may be better preserved after they have reached a solution on their own.  Business associates can remain associates.  Parents can continue to co-parent with each other.
  • Many resolutions in mediation are creative and fit the parties needs and specific circumstances.  These types of solutions often cannot come from traditional court litigation.  The parties are encouraged to think outside traditional resolutions and traditional processes.
  • All discussions are confidential and without prejudice and therefore the parties can discuss the issues and concerns without fear that the discussion will be used against them in a further proceeding.


What is it?

Mediation/Arbitration (or Med-Arb) is a process if you want to do mediation, but also want a final binding decision.  The parties attend mediation and if there is an agreement, can enter into a consent arbitration award or if no agreement proceed to have the matter heard through an arbitration process with an award at the conclusion.  The process of the arbitration can be specially tailored to the parties and agreed upon in advance.

Role of the Mediator/Arbitrator [med/arb]

In a Med/Arb, the parties can agree that the mediator will also serve as their Arbitrator, or they can agree to have the mediator and arbitrator as two separate people. 

There are advantages and disadvantages to both options, and we can discuss this with you prior to your deciding on your process.  The mediator works with the parties in the mediation phase, as a neutral third party the same as in a mediation.  If the parties can agree on everything, the arbitrator can make a final binding consent arbitration award.  If the participants cannot agree on anything the arbitrator will change hats and make a decision based only upon an assessment of only the evidence presented at the arbitration, in a process agreed upon by the participants in advance and deliver a final binding arbitration award.  If the participants have agreed on some issues in the mediation and some issues have gone to arbitration then a consent arbitration award can be issued for the agreed upon items and a separate arbitration award can be issued for the items the arbitrator made a decision on.

When you want to try mediation but also want to be certain to get a final decision on all outstanding matters, even if not by agreement, a med/arb process may be what works for you.  

Advantages of Med/Arb

  • The advantages of a mediation but with a final decision at the end.
  • The ability to formulate a process that is specifically tailored to the parties, their budget and agreed upon in advance.  The only condition is that the process chosen must follow the rules of natural justice, requiring that a person receive adequate notice and a fair and unbiased hearing before a decision is made.  In essence, each participant must be able to present their case and respond to the other participants case in a fair and balanced manner.
  • The ability to have a final comprehensive arbitration award that includes all issues as agreed upon in the Med/Arb Agreement and any other issues agreed upon by the participants during the proceedings.
  • Generally, a quicker and cheaper final decision than the courts can offer.
  • Ability to pick your decision-maker and to, upon agreement, have the same person act as both mediator and arbitrator.
  • The ability to work with all participants schedules instead of court-imposed schedules.


What is it?

An arbitration is a more formal process than a mediation.  An Arbitration is a neutral third-party decision maker who acts like a “judge” in a court.  The decision is bound by the current law and the arbitrator’s interpretation of it.   The process is developed between the parties’, in consultation with the arbitrator.  Arbitrators can listen to testimony, review evidence, determine credibility, and make a final ruling on one issue, a few issues or on all the issues in your matter.  Getting an appointment with an arbitrator is more efficient than waiting months or years for your matter to be heard at trial.  The result is a decision from the Arbitrator that you can then move forward with.  An arbitrator can be engaged for one arbitration on a set number of issues or can be engaged to deal with the original issues and any issues arising for a set period of time.

Role of the Arbitrator

The Arbitrator’s role is to hear your matter and make a decision based on the evidence put in front of them at the arbitration.  How they hear or review the evidence is up to the parties and the arbitrator and can involve everything from hearing testimony from witnesses, to reading Affidavits and other reports and reviewing materials.  It can be as similar or different from a court proceeding as the participants may agree upon.  The parties, along with the arbitrator can also decide how extensive of a decision they will give in support of their findings.

Advantages to Arbitration

  • Similar to a court matter, where a third-party decision-maker makes a decision based on evidence and application to the law.
  • Quicker to get a final decision than through the court system.
  • Fully customizable: decide which issues to determine, how to introduce evidence and how decision will be made, so long as in keeping with the rules of natural justice.
  • Procedure is known to all parties, and the parties can be involved in the development of the procedure in consultation with the arbitrator.
  • Generally, less expensive than a full court process.

Parenting Coordination (with an Arbitration function)

We offer parenting coordination services with an arbitration function.  What that means is that we will assist parents and other guardians in working out conflicts relating to their parenting schedule or in developing a new schedule if that is what they want and contract us to do.

Our process uses a child-centered approach where we seek out the “views and preferences” of the child[ren] in a manner appropriate to each child.  Our practitioners are experienced in interviewing children and bringing their views back to parents as appropriate so they can do this themselves or bring in another children’s specialist, as agreed upon.

We use a trauma informed approach which includes a pre-meeting with each parent or guardian.

If an agreement cannot be reached, then the arbitration function will kick in and the parenting coordinator [PC] will decide on the unresolved matter[s] and issue an arbitration award.  If an agreement has been reached, then the PC will issue a consent arbitration award.  Both types of awards are binding and enforceable through the courts.

We do not require a court order to provide these services, but rather will contract with the parents or children’s caretakers directly.

Child-Centered Options

A child-focused mediator or child specialist will help incorporate the “views and preferences” of the child in the mediation.  The child specialist will meet with the child separately and obtain their views, what is important to them and then determine what their parents are ready to hear.  The goal here is to refrain from putting the children in the middle between parents, while still obtaining information that is relevant and that the children are consenting to share with their parents.  The child specialist is trained specifically in dealing with children and will help provide some context to the parents about the children and their best interests.

Our practitioners are trained and have extensive experience in interviewing children and incorporating their views and preferences into trauma informed conflict solutions.

If you would like to inquire as to how to retain a child specialist for one of our ADR processes contact us.

Child-Centered Mediation

Where agreed upon by the participants and deemed appropriate by the practitioner the children’s views and preferences can be incorporated into a mediation.  This could involve the practitioner conducting the ADR process or another practitioner not involved in the process.

Child-Centered Parenting Coordination [PC]

Where agreed upon by the participants and deemed appropriate by the practitioner the children’s views and preferences can be incorporated into parenting coordination.  This could involve the practitioner conducting the parenting coordination or another practitioner not involved in the process.

Remote / Online Options

The available technology and increased familiarity with on-line programs resulting from the COVID 19 social distancing requirements has resulted in an increase in services delivered remotely and on-line.

All preliminary communication is done remotely and most pre-mediations are done by video conferencing.  Some conferences or hearings are done in person, and some are done remotely, depending on the participants location and needs.  We have also done some in a hybrid manner where some participants attend in person and some attend remotely.

Sometimes working remotely is necessitated by timing, cost, and individual considerations.  There are some process, safety and technology concerns that need to be addressed when working remotely.  Our practitioners are experienced working via videoconferencing and are capable and comfortable in providing a remote option in a safe, supportive, and effective manner.

Our remote capability allows us to assist individuals and businesses throughout Alberta and elsewhere, where appropriate.

The basic technology required for remote videoconferencing is a computer or laptop with a camera and voice capability.  Some participants have even attended via a smartphone when other technologies or the internet have been unreliable.

Education / Training

We are involved in developing training in the following areas:

  • Mediation/Arbitration,
  • Trauma Informed Practice,
  • Trauma Informed Mediation,
  • Parenting Coordination,
  • Child Welfare Mediation, and
  • Children’s Rights.

We will update this page accordingly with news about these courses.


Are you looking for someone to support you emotionally and practically through your conflict?

Are you looking for someone to help you understand the ins and outs of your divorce and the procedure?  A divorce coach may be the person for you.  We offer Divorce/separation/family coaching that will help you guide you through your divorce and separation and provide you practical advice along the way.

If you are looking to have a trained coach provide you with support along the way.  Contact us.

There are many different types of mediation.  We generally use an interest based, facilitative type of mediation that may include education or transformative aspects.  This allows more easily for a practitioner to shift between the role of mediation and arbitrator when a med/arb process is chosen.

“It always seems impossible until it’s done”  ~  Nelson Mandela

How Effective Is Mediation?

Full or Partial Resolution of Issues

Voluntary or Court Assigned Mediation

Within the Court / Litigation Processes