FAQ’s for Professionals

So, You’ve Decided To Become A Collaborative Practitioner! What’s next?

The following information is designed to give you a step-by-step guide through the process of becoming a Collaborative Practitioner.  The following steps can be done one-by-one, or you can work on them all-together.

Step 1:   Introductory Collaborative Training

Step 2:   Mediation Training (minimum 30 hours)

Step 3:   Join a Collaborative Practice Group / Mentorship

Step 4:   Be Involved


The first step to becoming a Collaborative Practitioner is to enroll and participate in an Introductory Collaborative Training.  Introductory trainings are held locally, nationally, and internationally at various times during the year.  You’ll find introductory training dates on the calendar of the International Academy of Collaborative Professionals (IACP), Collaborative Practice’s international body:

In this training, you will be introduced to the basic concepts of a Collaborative practice and what differentiates it from other dispute resolution processes.  You will be introduced to Collaborative basics such as:

The Participation Agreement:  

An agreement between team members and clients that they will not engage in any court process while in a Collaborative process.

The Disqualification Clause:

A provision that is at the heart of the Collaborative Participation Agreement, this clause provides that if the Collaborative process is ended without a resolution, both attorneys and other neutral professionals are disqualified from representing either party outside of the Collaborative process.   This provision ensures that inside the Collaborative process both attorneys and the neutrals are fully committed to helping the clients reach a successful resolution, as they have no financial interest in seeing the process terminate.

Collaborative Team Members:

The Collaborative process requires two attorneys, two parties, and a signed Participation Agreement that includes a Disqualification Clause.  Beyond those requirements, a Collaborative Practitioner has an extensive toolbox from which to draw, depending on the specifics of the case.  In most Collaborative cases the Team is filled out by adding a Divorce Coach, a Financial Neutral, and a Child Specialist (when children are involved), all Collaboratively trained professionals who are tasked with helping the Team build a durable agreement alongside the clients.  As you learn to become a Collaborative Practitioner you will learn the roles of each Collaborative professional.

The Language of Collaboration:

There is a whole body of Collaborative Vocabulary that you will learn as you become a Collaborative Practitioner.  The Collaborative Process is a Team process, not one where the attorneys help each party take positions as part of a negotiation strategy.  The attorneys do not refer to each other as “opposing counsel”, and the goal is to help the clients build a durable resolution based on each person’s own sense of what is fair and just.  You will learn that the Language of Collaboration is directly related to the effectiveness of the process.

The Collaborative Roadmap:

There is a flow within the Collaborative Process that goes from the first meeting with a client to the end of the process, whether the end of the process is a resolution or termination of the process.  Simply put, the Collaborative Roadmap starts with the creation of the Collaborative Container (the signing of the Participation Agreement), the gathering of information, the creation and evaluation of possible scenarios, adjustments to the scenarios (sometimes needing additional information), and finally the preparation and signing of the documents reflecting the final agreement.

Being A Collaborative Practitioner Is Not About Winning Or Losing:

You, as a Collaborative Practitioner, will learn that the Collaborative Process is not about winning or losing.  Instead, it is about creating durable agreements based not on numbers, but on those interests and goals the clients hold most important.


The second step in becoming a Collaborative Practitioner is to take a minimum 30-hour mediation training.  In fact, it is common for Collaborative Practitioners, over the course of their careers, to take more than one of these trainings, in addition to shorter, more focused trainings on skills used in Mediations.  Collaborative Practice has roots in mediation so it is important for practitioners to learn (or brush up on) basic techniques in recognizing positions versus developing interests and concerns.  Mediation trainings are available across the State of Washington.


An essential part of your being a Collaborative Practitioner is to join a Collaborative Practice group.  Some groups are “open”, and some are “closed.” A list of current Washington State Practice Groups can be found on the IACP website by entering Washington State and conducting a search:  Collaborative Practice Groups | IACP.  In these groups, you will be involved in networking, building your Collaborative skills, book study, marketing and other learning activities.  The best way to become a quality Collaborative Practitioner includes being an active participant of at least one practice group.  Many practitioners have a membership in multiple practice groups because different groups have different focuses.

Here is a link to Washington State Practice Groups (note that some groups may not be active): Practice Groups

Another way to accelerate your becoming a Collaborative Practitioner is to join a Mentor Program through CPW, IACP, or one of the local practice groups (not all offer mentor programs).  Being a Mentee for a Collaborative Case, and being mentored by a mentor, will give you access to what happens in a Collaborative Case by allowing you to observe a case without being responsible for what happens in the case.  This is a great way to learn what experienced professionals do in their work.  Ask someone in the Collaborative Community about mentor programs.


A last step to becoming a Collaborative Practitioner is to simply Be Involved.  Both new and experienced practitioners need to be involved, which leads to case referrals, continued learning, leadership opportunities, and more.  There are many ways to be involved.  You can join a Committee of your local practice group, you can attend trainings such as CPW’s Annual Conference (March), the IACP Forum (October), and many others offered locally and nationally.  Being involved, or not, is oftentimes the difference between being a collaborative practitioner and a successful Quality Collaborative Practitioner.

Remember that Becoming a Collaborative Practitioner is just the beginning.  The Board of CPW, and many experienced practitioners around the State of Washington are available to help you transition your practice to a Collaborative – based practice.  All you need to do is ask and act!!


Collaborative Divorce – The Revolutionary New Way to Restructure Your Family, Resolve Legal Issues, and Move on with Your Life  Tesler, Pauline; Thompson, Peggy
Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Life  Rosenberg, Marshall
Taking the War Out of Our Words: The Art of Powerful Non-Defensive Communication  Ellison, Sharon
The Anatomy of Peace: Resolving the Heart of Conflict  The Arbinger Institute
The Collaborative Way to Divorce: The Revolutionary Method That Results in Less Stress, Lower Costs, and Happier Kids — Without Going to Court  Webb, Stuart; Ousky, Ronald
The Crossroads of Conflict: A Journey Into the Heart of Dispute  Cloke, Kenneth
The Co-Parents’ Handbook: Raising Well-Adjusted, Resilient and Resourceful Kids in a Two-Home Family from Little Ones to Young Adults  Bonnell, Karen & Little, Kristen
How to Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk  Faber, Adele; Mazlish, Elaine
Mom’s House, Dad’s House: Making Shared Custody Work  Ricci, Isolina
Mom’s House, Dad’s House: Making Two Homes for Your Child  Ricci, Isolina
Mom’s House, Dad’s House for Kids: Feeling at Home in One Home or Two  Ricci, Isolina
The Good Divorce  Ahrons, Constance
Mindful Co-Parenting: A Child-Friendly Path Through Divorce  Gaies, Jeremy S. and Morris, Jr., James B.
Mediating Dangerously: The Frontiers of Conflict Resolution  Cloke, Kenneth
The Crossroads of Conflict: A Journey Into the Heart of Dispute  Cloke, Kenneth
Collaborative Divorce Handbook: Helping Clients Without Ever Going to Court     Mosten, Forrest
Navigating Emotional Currents in Collaborative Divorce: A Guide to Enlightened Team Practice  Scharff, Kate; Herrick, Lisa
Collaborative Law: Achieving Effective Resolution in Divorce Without Litigation  Tesler, Pauline
Collaborative Practice: Deepening the Dialogue  Cameron, Nancy J.,

Why do I need all this training?

Do the attorneys really have to agree not to litigate?

What about professional ethics considerations?

What are the costs and benefits to me as an attorney?

What is a Practice Group?

What is the purpose of Collaborative Professionals of Washington?

What is IACP and should I join?

Do I have to join a practice group, CPW, or the IACP to practice collaboratively?