When many people think about mediation, they assume that the term simply refers to a professional sitting with two conflicting parties in a room and trying to get them to negotiate and reach a compromise. While this is somewhat of an accurate picture, what people often fail to realize is that there are several different styles of mediation and different mediators that specialize in each. Here are the 4 major types of mediation and how they differ in practice:
Facilitative mediation: Here, the mediator structures a process to assist the parties to reach a mutually agreeable resolution. The actual decision-making is left entirely to those parties involved, and the mediator has no-decision making authority.
Evaluative mediation: This process is formatted similarly to a settlement conference. Evaluative mediators are generally attorneys, and they often attempt to persuade both parties to make compromises by pointing out the legal strengths and weaknesses in each side’s case. Evaluative mediators are more concerned with the legal rights of the parties than their needs or interests.
Transformative mediation: This type of mediation is based on empowering each party as much as possible, and having each side try to recognize and acknowledge the other's needs, interests and points of view. It is considered an “organic” process and is highly responsive to the underlying needs of both parties.
Narrative mediation: This style of mediation pre-supposes that the people involved have become caught within the “conflict cycle” because they are unable to see any possible alternatives to it. The mediator gets the parties to view the conflict from a greater distance. The goal is to get both sides to detach themselves from the conflict and thus enable them to make more thoughtful decisions.
Remember, there is no right or wrong mediation model. Which option will work best is unique to each individual situation. If you are planning on scheduling a mediation, first take a minute to research your options before choosing the path that you believe will be most effective at resolving your particular conflict.
Robert D. Bordett CFP, CDFA
and Mediation Services
888 U2AGREE (888.822.4733)