In most cases and preferably, in my practice, we meet together in the same room for all sessions in order to maximize the opportunity to communicate effectively and to encourage mutual understanding and effective problem-solving. However, there are some circumstances when I, as the mediator, can meet with the parties in what is called a private session or a caucus. In that event, everything that we talk about in the private sessions are confidential and I, as the mediator, will not reveal to the other party what it is we’ve talked about in the private session unless you approve otherwise. If I meet with one party privately, I will always meet with the other party or parties privately. In my practice, I prefer not to use caucusing in the belief that our goal is to facilitate effective communication and that is best accomplished in joint session.
In some not common circumstances in which the parties are unwilling or unable to meet together in the same room, for one reason or another, shuttle mediation is an option in which I, as the mediator, move back and forth between the parties in different rooms or at different times, carrying messages and helping the parties communicate, explore options, and seek agreement within that communication structure.