What is Facilitative Mediation?

If you are considering mediation, it is important to consider what style of mediation is going to work best for your particular situation. When most people think of mediation, they probably think of “facilitative” mediation. Facilitative mediation is the original style of mediation and was developed to provide clients with an alternative to the traditional litigation system.

In the traditional legal system lawyers make arguments to a judge who makes a decision about your case; in facilitative mediation clients discuss what is important to them and resolve their own matter with the assistance of a neutral mediator who helps guide the conversation. The mediator does not have the ability to make decisions which means that the agreement is entirely up to the clients.

Conflicts are often rooted in ineffective communication. A facilitative mediator assists the clients by helping them communicate more effectively. In facilitative mediation clients share their perspective on the conflict and identify their “interests.” An interest is something that is fundamentally important to someone (e.g., effective co-parenting, mutual respect, financial security, etc.). Every “position” that someone takes has one or more underlying interests.

Facilitative mediators help clients identify as many of their interests as they can and then develop solutions that meet as many of these interests as possible. It is not unusual for clients to realize that they actually have many of the same interests. A good agreement is one that meets as many of these “shared” clients interests as possible.

A facilitative mediator will do some or all of the following:

– Help clients effectively speak for themselves
– Help clients effectively listen to the other person
– Help clients identify their own interests
– Help clients understand the other person’s interests
– Help generate options
– Help clients determine which options best meet their interests
– Help create agreements that work well for everyone

A facilitative mediator generally does not focus on what happens if you go to court. Instead, the focus is on effective communication and creating win-win agreements.


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