Comments: A Study in Mediation Styles: A Comparative Analysis of Evaluative and Transformative Styles

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Basia  Solarz, Halifax NS   03/12/13
I heartily agree with Ms. Lucke's analysis of this article, especially her remarks regarding the serious misunderstanding and misprepresentation of the transformative approach to mediation. I sincerely hope that the author, though undoubtedly well-intended, will consider removing this article from the website.

Katina Banik, Kansas City MO     01/09/11
Response to Stephen's post
Stephen, I see the sentence you are referring to and it appears it was a typo (oops). "The transformative style does appear to be effective when the parties do not show an interest in a post-mediation relationship" should have been: "The transformative style does not appear to be as effective when the parties do not show an interest in a post-mediation relationship." I apologize for the confusion and poor editing. Thanks for your comment, Katina

Katina Banik, Kansas City MO     01/09/11
Response to Janee
Hi Janee, I wrote this when I was in undergrad, and am currently pursuing my Master's degree in Conflict Management and Dispute Resolution. I emailed you privately with some ideas, but I know there are others out there who probably have different experiences, and I think their feedback would be beneficial as well. Thank you for your interest and your comment. Katina Banik (formerly Katina Foster)

janee  , west palm beach fl     05/17/10
hello im 12 years old and i would like to know how long do mediators train for and how many years studying it involves and at what cost thanks alot i love the article gave me alot of informaition about mediators

fronzuance tiseli, Auckland NZ     10/04/05
Mediation models
The author Laurence Boulle had four models:evaluative, facilitative,therapeutic and settlement mediation. Does narrative and transformative mediation fit in to Boulle's classification?

louannn lucke, oakland ca   06/21/04
the description of transformative mediation
Noting that this article has been online for some time, I assumed that included Ms. Foster's article on Mediation Styles in this new section on transformative mediation because she talks about doing case-study work on the transformative orientation. Previous comments by another reader clearly identify some of the problems with Ms. Foster's characterization of transformative practice. As a mediator and trainer who has worked with the early formation of the Redress curriculum, and since then has trained many mediators and worked in many settings as a transformative practitioner, it may be useful to point out at least a few of the most glaring misunderstandings in this article. First of all, transformative practitioners do not have as a goal to "transform the relationship between the two disputants during the mediation". With honor to Ms. Zumeta, whose writings I have followed with interest over the years, by using Ms. Zumeta's definition already we are not speaking from a transformative viewpoint. As mediators who work to incorporate the values and beliefs of a relational worldview into our practice, our work is based on the principle that all people have the capacity, despite their human condition or the level of their conflict, to act upon the opportunities for human transformation that are inherent in every conflict. The essence of this belief is that in the midst of destructive, hostile and even hateful communication always rests the seeds of (the potential for) greater strength of self(empowerment) and re-connection with others(recognition). It is in working with this potential, through mediator response to party opportunities for greater individual strength (the movement from disempowerment to empowerment) and for movement from self-absorption to re-connection (movement towards recognition) that the transformative potential of mediation rests, as defined by Folger and Bush. Secondly, I am not comfortable with the case studies cited. I am assuming the author had limited time (perhaps due to writing for a class?) and was not able to structure a more significant series of observations in either evaluative mediation as she describes it, or transformative mediation. However, by mixing definitions from other forms of practice, as she did in including a definition by Mayer on framing, and then relating this to what she purports is part of transformative practice - mediators..."put the conflict into a new context by reframing through language", a major misunderstanding of transformative work is likely to occur. Transformative practitioners work very hard to follow, rather than lead, the interaction, catching the language used as well as the pattern in the dialogue and the "heat" of the conversation. This we then either reflect back to one party, or summarize -- attempting to do NOTHING to change the meaning or intent of any of the parties present. Thus everything that follows in Ms.Foster's description, which appears based on this faulty premise, is not accurate in any way. The other comment I feel is important to underline for any readers is that as transformative mediators WE DO NOT ATTEMPT TO FORCE EMPOWERMENT OR RECOGNITION -- WE DO NOT ASK PARTIES TO RECOGNIZE THINGS ABOUT EACH OTHER, NOR DO WE PUSH FOR THEM TO DO ANYTHING OTHER THAN WHAT THEY CHOOSE TO DO AS THEY WORK THROUGH THEIR CONFLICT. It is in our responses as mediators who are focused on party disempowerment and self-absorption that parties invariably begin to make their own choices about what is important to them in the interaction, in the conflict, and in any agreement they may decide they want...just as it is up to parties to also make any decisions about their desire or willingness to move towards any new perspectives collectively. I offer these thoughts with all good will to any who read them. I hope Ms. Foster continues to pursue her interest in the variety of ways that mediation is practiced, and I know that if she would like to work in more depth with the transformative approach, she can find resources through this section's editor, Sally Pope.

Gregorio Billikopf, Modesto CA     04/12/04
I need your address
Hi Katina, There may have been a better way to do this, but I did not find it. I would like to send you a copy of my new book, Helping Others Resolve Differences. I will need an address that is not a P.O. Box, as well as a phone number. I use Fed-Ex. Gregorio Billikopf University of California 209-525-6800

Stephen , Martinsburg WV     06/26/03
Description and examples of transformative mediation in this article here are at odds with what is "transformative" practice (U.S. Postal Service's REDRESS and in training through one of the authors of "The Promise of Mediation", Joseph Folger). This appears to be drawn from dated material and does not accurately reflect later developments in transformative practice. For instance, the practice described as "reframing" or detoxifying /laundering language is exactly what we were expressly cautioned to avoid! It is more accurate to describe the transformative practice as seeking to alter the nature of the conflict interaction between the parties--not how they view conflict globally in their lives, but particularly when they interact with each other in the conflict being mediated! The practices as described here are too directive and leading--a transformative mediator is not supposed to lead the parties where they want them to go (by reframing language or what rules/guidelines are appropriate) but follow the parties around when in conflict interaction, and highlight conversation which offers opportunities to empower and recognize each other as humans, rather than objects. Finally, transformative practice has proven to be particularly effective when the participants show interest in a post-mediation relationship--as it is particularly (but not exclusively) designed to work in such instances. This is why the Postal Service uses it, as they need workers to function efficiently as a team post-mediation!