What type of mediation is best for me?

January 18, 2009

There are three recognized styles of mediation:  facilitative, evaluative and transformative.

In the facilitative process, the mediator structures the mediation and guides the participants gently by asking questions and assisting the participants in developing and analyzing possible resolutions.  The mediator does not share his/her opinions or give advice to the participants.  The participants may or may not remain in the same room during the mediation, depending on the level of acrimony between the participants and other factors.

In evaluative mediation, the mediator is selected for his/her expertise in the area in the dispute.  The mediator offers his/her opinions as to possible outcomes and the reasonableness of positions of the participants.  Themediator may also make recommendations as to possible resolutions.  The mediator is generally an attorney and attorneys are generally present representing the participants.  The participants tend to be placed in separate rooms, and the mediator shuttles back and forth between them.

Transformative mediation gives the participants the power to guide the mediation and transform their relationship themselves.  The participants stay in the same room to facilitate discussions and transformation.  It is the newest form of mediation and is used by such entitites as the United States Postal Service.

Good mediators tend to use techniques from each type of mediation, as the situation requires.  If you choose to commit to one particular process, choose the type of mediation that appeals to you most.   There is not a bad choice.  Any type of mediation is almost always better than any other method of conflict resolution, when parties are interested in resolving conflict and focusing on other, more positive aspects of their lives.

Alona Gottfried is a mediator and attorney with Simmons & Gottfried, PLLC and can be reached at alona@sglawaz.com or 480-998-1500.

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