We all have an internal structure, an amalgam of our own personal theories of the universe, by which make sense of the world, make sense out of our reality, of whatever we find happening to us. These theories are implicit, and ineffable – meaning they defy language – we can’t put these theories into words. These theories don’t always have to be “right” and we are always altering our internal theories based on information we are taking in. This “sense-making” mechanism is often called mental models. Mental models has many synonymous terms – mind-sets, schema, filters, lenses, maps, perspectives, … and – frames. A frame that collection of ideas and assumptions and beliefs and biases that each party, and their counsel, and you … and me … carry inside ourselves that help us to make sense of what is happening to us and what we might do about it. It is a literal “frame” that we place around the mental picture we are holding of any situation.
In mediation, each party constructs a unique internal picture by collecting what is being said, and what is being perceived. This internal picture includes also body language, facial expressions, respiratory rates of the others in the room, energy signatures like agitation or – calm, and etc. The technique of reframing builds on the possibility we can impose alternate “frames” around our own internal mental pictures and expand our ability to see reality in different ways. A good frame – like a good theory – makes it easier to understand what is going on and what you need to do.