Mediation Styles

There are many different styles of mediation. Not only is it important to find the right mediator for your case, it is also important to find the right mediation style for your case. Many mediators will use more than one style of mediation. Although mediation and Collaborative Law are similar, the concept of “style” is specific to mediation. The first two styles described – Facilitative and Evaluative – are the most widely known and commonly used mediation styles. The last two – Narrative and Transformative – are lesser known but emerging styles of mediation.

Facilitative Mediation. Facilitative mediation is the original style of mediation. Facilitative mediators seek to “facilitate” the negotiation between the participants. The goal is to help everyone achieve their interests and to reach a durable (long lasting) agreement. Facilitative mediators tend to believe that participants can reach lasting agreements if given enough information, time and support. The facilitative mediator usually does not comment on what would happen if the case went to court (at least not initially). Generally speaking, facilitative mediators tend to come from all backgrounds (legal, mental health, etc.)

Evaluative Mediation. Evaluative mediation is concerned primarily with reaching a deal. This style of mediation focuses more on expected court outcome and less on the parties’ interests. Evaluative mediation may be a good choice if you just need to “get it done.” If trial is coming up the attorneys may suggest using an evaluative mediator with the hope of reaching a deal and avoiding trial. Often evaluative mediators will have a legal background.

Narrative Mediation. Narrative mediation is a relatively new style of mediation that focuses on creating a new “story” or a new “narrative” to understand and reshape the conflict. Often narrative mediators will have a mental health background. Narrative mediation is a very specific method of mediation so be sure to ask if your mediator has training in the narrative style. 

Transformative Mediation. Transformative Mediation is an emerging form of mediation that focuses first on repairing the relationship and then on the resolving the dispute. Like narrative mediation, transformative mediation is a very specific style of mediation. Often transformative mediators will have a mental health background. Be sure to ask if your mediator has training in Narrative or Transformative if that is the type of mediation you are looking for.

The Toolbox Approach. Some mediators have one preferred mediation style. Other mediators take a “toolbox” approach and use whatever style seems most appropriate at the moment. Mediations in the legal context often begin with a Facilitative style but move more toward an Evaluative style if facilitation is not proving effective.


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