Comments: Styles of Mediation: Facilitative, Evaluative, and Transformative Mediation

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Karen  , Saint Leonards     02/14/14
Mediation styles
I am in the process of pulling together a dissertation to explore the possible barriers to mediators adopting a narrative or transformative approach, and of all the literature I have come across (which is a great deal), none have summarised these approaches so well. A big thank you to you Zena its a very helpful and well written article! Have you by any chance written anything on the narrative approach or are there any particular articles you would recommend? Thanks. Karen, SE England

Giuseppe , Kaneohe HI   02/29/12
Different Styles of Mediation
Our Association for Conflict Resolution Hawaii Chapter is sponsoring a pilot project called Virtual Mediation Lab. Its goal is to show how mediators around the world can improve their mediation skills by participating in online mediation simulations via Skype. As for the assessment and comparison of different mediation methods, we asked ourselves two basic questions. 1 – Who decides whether the mediator’s method was effective? Our answer: the parties. 2 – How much do the parties care about what their mediator’s method is called? Our answer: Nothing For that reason, the mediators who participate in our simulations playing the role of the parties do not know in advance which method their mediator will use – facilitative, transformative or whatever else. It is up to them to figure it out and judge it – a decision based not on the method’s name but only on its effectiveness.

Sam Imperati, Portland Or     02/29/12

Rick , Windsor   02/28/12
Mediation vs. Resolution
While I am familar with the Facilitative and Transformative styles of mediation, I have always maintained the belief that the Evaluative style should be more aptly titled, "Evaluative Resolution" so as to not confuse it with the traditional definition of mediation. IMO, Evaluative "Mediation" goes against every principle I was taught about mediation. Mediators regardless of style employed, should never give either party their "opinion" as to how their particular case could resolve which could prove to be misleading and nothing more than an educated guess(better to leave that style to the stock markets or weather prognosticators). Further, mediation was meant to be an alternative to the legal process and not a regurgitated legal approach by the same individuals who reside in the legal arena(a pig wearing lipstick is still a pig). Finally, unless truly informed, the parties are being led astray by evaluative "mediators" based on their past lives as attorneys or former judicial arbitrators creating the impression that their "opinion" is somehow more credible than non-attorney based mediators. Mediation was meant to be a forum in which the mediator creates and supports an environment for meaningful discussion without a vested interest in the outcome. Anything less than that is nothing more than a resolution based forum, but should not be confused with mediation.

Steve , Elmira NY     05/31/07
Transformitive Mediation
I am very new to the field of mediation, and my limited background of Higher education,Legal experience and Scholarly pursuits prevent me from saying too much concerning this fascinating topic. However, in my humble opinion, It appears that Transformitive Mediation has the best chance of the three models to evolve and adapt over time. It's as if an Idea's time as come, and as usual ,the establishment is resistant to change. I have noticed that the all important issue of diversity wasn't considered within the article, and Transformative philosophy, from my limited understanding would consider this crucial for a well rounded model to be effective. I believe this area of diversity is very important where at least one of the models may strongly involve the judicial system, and I know.. whole new issue.. The implications this issue presents, seem to me very exciting and challenging.

William Van Twisk, Brunswick ME     04/04/07
Not sure about chameleon mediators
I've heard the notion that it makes perfect sense to adjust the "style" of your mediation work to suit the subject area, parties or specific "flow" of the mediation conference, but have my doubts here and feel this limits our potential to be the best we can be. As a Transformative mediator my model is really developed and supported by my beliefs about conflict and purposes in doing this work, and so to practice in this "flexible" manner contradicts that. To do well and grow the field, we need to find ways to master the process in ways that fit our true nature. Best maybe to resist the urge to "settle this for them" and instead learn techniques to provide the parties full value from mediation--which should provide that full and complete ALTERNATIVE to a judicial process. -Will Van

Todd , Denver CO   03/06/07
Never mind, the thesis is complete and I no longer need assistance. (Reframe) I consider your experience and wisdom valuable, and regret not having had the opportunity to benefit from it.

Todd , Denver CO     02/23/07
Most desired mediation outcomes
I found Zena's article to be a valuable summation of the three styles she mentioned. I'm writing a thesis entitled Mediation: Too Many Finish Lines and would appreciate any recommended articles / peer reviewed work on controversy of what is the real desired outcome of a mediation. Thanks much.

Pat , McKinney TX   02/13/07
Styles of Mediation:Facilitative,Evaluative,and Transformative Mediation
I particularly enjoyed Zena's article. Having been a mediator for over 22 years, I have been trained in and practiced all of the styles. For some time, I have called myself an "eclectic mediator" as I determine the style that works best for parties and their issue/s. I am not a champion for one particular style. -I have long respected Zena's advice and publications.

Cox J. David, Vancouver BC     03/02/06
different approaches
Z.Zumeta breaks down the styles of mediation clearly and well but for practitioners to employ one style exclusively or attack another is silly. I'd serve pizza if it worked (by the way, sometimes it does). What I would advise any beginning mediator is to practice all three. In separation agreements (for divorce) sometimes a little 'direction' is all that is needed to move things along. Other times, 'direction' would be treading on personal issues. This article is, in my opinion, weak in that it is written 'professionally' and thus has credence but the underlying implied message is wrong. It is not 'either/or'. It is 'all of the above and the kitchen sink'.

Dan King Sr, Dublin GA     11/30/05
Distinguishing Between Styles in Mediation
Your article was helpful to me, Zena. Thanks.

Bobby , Fort Smith AR   04/22/04
qualifications in styles
The article referencees Florida's rule which states that ''a mediator should not offer information that a mediator is not qualified to provide'' (Rule 10.090(a)). Our state certification guidelines say the same thing. Isn't this a catch-all? Who determines who is qualified to provide what information? Attorneys on law, therapists on psyological matters, ministers on spiritual matters, generalists on ... everything? If mediators are to be certified, as they should be to protect the public, how do general guidelines such as these help?

James W. , Washington DC   03/06/02
Mediation Styles
The conclusion brings the whole argument into perspective -- "what one person eats doesn't make another fat." An attorney who practices mediation in a judicial environment, will more often than not, have a different approach as to what might work best than that of one who doesn't have "judicial blinders." I might even want to argue that non-lawyers, who are well seasoned, make the better mediator. But, I dare not stake that claim at the chance of losing my associate membership in the ABA. With all joking aside, the "sophisticated mediator, will use a combination of styles when and where appropriate. I think that most of us can agree on the science of mediation, but the practice will always be open for debate.

Lisa  Gaynier, Shaker Heights OH     01/14/02
On Transformative Mediation
While I sympathise with Bush and Folger's desire to contribute to moving society toward a more "relational world" view, transforming disputants cannot and should not be the objective of mediation, because it engages the mediator in the same ethical trap that satisfaction or facilitative, or even evaluative mediation does, which is to impose on the parties the values or agenda of the mediator. The techniques which Bush and Folger advocate derive from a Gestalt-based intervention framework. But the Gestalt intervenor would say that the objective is to assist clients in heightening their awareness and turning this awareness into useful action (Edwin Nevis in Organizational Consulting from a Gestalt Perspective,1987) as defined by the client. Awareness allows clients to empower themselves and supports recognition. This methodology works because it supports client generated energy: which results in the "transfomation" Bush and Folger so passionately advocate. The Gestalt orientation allows for a cleaner ethical relationship between mediator and client. I look forward to more conversations!

Justin Miller, Portland OR     11/09/00
Great summary. My question is whether we can say that the styles mediators choose have the same essential quality as the positions of disputants, preventing a standardization of approaches short of a legal judgment authorizing only one approach as appropriate. In other words, beyond ethical judgments regarding practice, don't style choices reflect moral judgments, ie. what is fair, what is the ultimate goal of the process(settlement vs. self-determination). In working on a thesis on this subject, I welcome all comments.

Jonathan , Brunswick Ma   09/14/00
But Paul, what about Zena's essential point (with which I totally agree): that there is room in our field for a variety of styles, that certain cases call for certain approaches (or some combination of approaches), and that it's up to us to disclose our essential style AND adapt our preferred style to the needs of particular litigants/cases. Best regards.

Paul Charbonneau, Rockport ME     09/11/00
Mediation Orientations
Zena, Greetings! and we need to talk... about styles. models, orientations, premises and principles of tranformative practice. The differences start with values [of all things!] and definitions and result in different practices that are more than a matter of style.

anne , lansing mi   09/10/00
comparison of mediation styles
Nice summary of mediation styles, Zena!!!!