Understanding different mediation styles
‘Mediation’ is a bit of a catch-all term, at its core it’s an interactive process in which a neutral mediator works together with parties to negotiate and settle outside of the court room. Mediation gives people a chance to be involved and actively participate in the outcomes of their case, it’s a popular choice for family law matters and the majority of issues can be settles before ever reaching the court room.
Mediation is an excellent dispute resolution tool, but did you know there are actually a number of different styles of mediation out there? To get the best outcome for your case, it’s important to find the right mediation style. Some mediators will use more than one mediation style, depending on the situation. There are a few styles that are widely known and used, and others that are emerging, new styles of mediation.
Here what you need to know:
Facilitative is the most well-known style of mediation, as it was the original style that has been around since the beginning. The goal of facilitative mediation is to help everybody to get their needs met and to reach a sustainable and long lasting agreement. Most facilitative mediators believe that participants can reach sustainable agreements, if they are given enough information and time to work through the negotiation process. Most facilitative mediation do not comment on the likely outcome of the case should the case proceed to court. Facilitative mediation is a method that basically expects the parties involved to come to a reasonable conclusion under the support and guidance of a neutral mediator, without the mediator pushing for any specific outcome or injecting too much of their own opinion into proceedings.
Evaluative mediation is all about negotiating and reaching an outcome. The focus is more on recognising what the likely outcome of a settlement in the court room would be, and less on the parties individual interests or desires for the case. This is a great option when parties are just looking for a quick outcome and want to get through proceedings quickly with less chance of having to proceed to trial. This is one of the more commonly used methods, it’s quite different to the facilitative approach.
Narrative mediation is a much newer approach than facilitative or evaluative mediation and focuses on reshaping a conflict by creating a new ‘story’ or ‘narrative’ around the dispute, in order to find a reasonable agreement. This is a less common style of mediation so it’s not certain that all mediators will practice the narrative style, so it’s important to ask if you’re chosen mediator can help you with it.
Transformative mediation is a newer form of mediation that primary focus in on fixing the relationship between parties and then resolving the dispute following that. Mediators that practice this style tend to have a mental health background. It’s not right for everybody, as for some people trying to ‘resolve’ the problem can be timely and less effective than other approaches that focus on finding a solution.
The toolbox approach
Certain mediators will prefer a single mediation style, whilst others have a ‘toolbox’ way of approaching mediation where they might use multiple styles depending on what seems appropriate for the moment. When using a toolbox approach, many mediators use the facilitative style before moving onto other style to try and find what is most effective in the situation.
There are many different approaches to mediation and different styles that will suit different situations. People should consider what will be best for their specific situation.