About Mediation

Mediation is one of several dispute resolution techniques available to help individuals and groups resolve conflict. The goal of mediation is to develop a solution that all parties can agree on. Mediation can be used as an alternative to legal action.

The mediator acts as a neutral third party and facilitates a confidential process with the disputants to work towards a resolution. A mediator promotes effective communicating, definition of the issues to be resolved, and the development and evaluation of options towards an agreement.

Styles of Mediation

The styles of mediation are actually a continuum, with differences based on the setting, the role of the mediator and the tools the mediator will use to facilitate the outcome of the mediation.

Below are the three most common types of mediation.

Facilitative (Interest-based) Mediation: Facilitative mediation is based on the belief that, with neutral assistance, people can work through and resolve their own conflicts. In a facilitative mediation, the mediator will take an active role in controlling the "process." Process means things like setting the ground rules for how the problem will be solved. The mediator asks questions to identify the interests of the parties and the real issues in the disagreement. The mediator helps the parties explore solutions that benefit both parties (sometimes called "win/win" solutions). In a facilitative mediation, the mediator does not offer an opinion on the strengths and weaknesses of the parties' cases. The mediator does not suggest solutions.

Evaluative (Caucus) Mediation: Evaluative mediation is based on the belief that mediators with expertise in the issues in conflict can help the parties to:

  • Assess the strengths and weaknesses of their legal or other positions
  • Work to achieve settlements.

In evaluative mediation, the mediator controls the process and suggests solutions for resolving the conflict. Individual meetings between the mediator and one party at a time (called "caucuses") are a major component of evaluative mediation. The focus of an evaluative mediation is primarily upon settlement. The mediators will make their best efforts to get the parties to compromise, if necessary, to achieve a result.

Transformative Mediation: Transformative mediation is based on the belief that conflict tends to make parties feel weak and self-absorbed. Transformative mediators try to change the nature of the parties' conflict interaction by:

  • Helping them appreciate each others viewpoints ("recognition")
  • Strengthening their ability to handle conflict in a productive manner ("empowerment").

The mediator will intervene in the conversation between the parties in order to call attention to moments of recognition and empowerment. Ground rules for the mediation are set only if the parties set them. The mediator does not direct the parties to topics or issues. Instead, the mediator follows the parties’ conversation and assist them to talk about what they think is important. The transformative mediator does not offer an opinion on the strengths or weaknesses of the parties’ cases. The mediator does not suggest solutions.

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