There is no set procedure for the conduct of the mediation. It depends on what is agreed by the mediator + the parties. The mediator does not have a veto + the parties can, therefore, impose a procedure on the mediator. But the point today is whether all mediators should always go straight for an opening-round the table meeting with each party making a statement.
There is an alternative. No opening meeting. Keep the parties apart until the very end when a mediation settlement needs to be signed but even that does not require the parties face to face.
Which way to go? It depends on what is likely to work best. Sometimes a full meeting can help. People usually smile + the mediator with a light touch can create a positive atmosphere.
Sometimes the atmosphere is bad + progress is likely to come by separate meetings.
So much depends on the reading of the situation by the mediator. If he/she keeps the parties apart + makes some progress he will have done well. If she has the parties glaring at each other she may simply reinforce the mood of confrontation
Something to think about
Welcome your opinions