TYPES OF MEDIATION
In last month’s article we talked about how one finds a good mediator to help resolve your particular conflict. Now, I wanted to share the various types of conflicts that can be mediated; and a look into the styles of mediation. The conflicts addressed by professional mediators are varied and can include divorce, child custody, landlord/tenant relationships, business disputes, workplace disputes, community, court ordered mediation, school bullying, eldercare….wherever there is conflict there can be a choice for mediation.

Some mediation services focus on the needs of a particular profession or business. Medical mediators can work to address problems between doctors and managed care companies. If warring factions threaten to split a church, a church mediator can facilitate discussion between members, clergy, and denominational officials. Business mediations can include employee disputes, partnership issues, or customer service conflicts. While mediation is not a licensed profession in the United States, many mediators also hold credentials in other fields. Required credentials vary depending on the type of mediation services offered, but may include the completion of a bachelor’s degree, master’s degree, graduation from an approved mediator training program, membership in a professional association for mediators, or a documented number of experience hours. The types of mediation can include:

Community mediation: is a community-based form of conflict resolution which is available to people who are experiencing disputes within their community: in the schools, neighborhood issues, local government disputes, consumer advocacy. In areas where community mediation services are offered, people can attempt to resolve disputes with the assistance of a mediator, rather than taking disputes to law.

Family Mediation: helps to sort out the complex details of a divorce or separation are the most common types of family mediation services. These services are important in family law because they establish parental rights and responsibilities. Property disputes between divorced couples are found here. If no written agreement was created prior to a marriage, shared property can become difficult to divide between a couple.

Business Mediation: usually involves those issues regarding employee disputes, partnership agreements, customer contract issues and/or customer service, land use disputes, and sometimes the public/private conflicts that arise in the local economy. Again, one does not necessarily need an attorney to resolve these, as much as an expert in the particular field who has been trained as a credentialed mediator.

Eldercare Mediation: due to the aging baby boomer population, this is a growing area of mediation that may involve more of a collaborative team approach. With the rise of elder abuse, and caregiver conflicts these types of mediation services can help to relieve much of the stress that builds up when families or adult children are taxed with taking care of their parents and their own families, or professions.

STYLES OF MEDIATION
There are basically three common styles of mediation that are being practiced:

1) Facilitative Mediation: In this process the mediator structures a process to assist the parties in reaching a mutually agreeable solution. The mediator asks questions; validates and normalizes the point of view; searches for interests between the parties positions; and assists in finding and analyzing options for resolution. The mediator does not make recommendations, give advice etc., but is in charge of the process while the parties are in charge of their outcome.

2) Evaluative Mediation: In this process mediation is modeled on settlement conferences held by judges. An evaluative mediator assists the parties in reaching a resolution by pointing out weaknesses of their cases, and predicting what a judge or jury would likely do. The evaluative mediator may make formal or informal recommendations to the parties as to the outcome of the issues. They are more concerned with the legal rights as opposed to needs and interests of the parties. So they not only structure the process, they also directly influence the outcome.

3) Transformative Mediation: In this newest concept, the mediation process is based on the values of “empowerment” of each of the parties as much as possible; as well as “recognition” by each of the parties of the other parties needs, interests, values and points of view. The potential here is that any or all of the parties or their relationships may be transformed during the mediation. The mediators here meet with the parties together since the can only give each other “recognition”. So in this process the parties structure both the process and the outcomes with the mediator following their lead.

There are pro and cons relating to all of the methods. However, there seem to be more concerns about the evaluative and transformative process than with the facilitative mediation process due to criticism the former methods as being too top down decision-making, coerciveness, not impartial, and less participative.

It is my hope that with the information passed on here, you will be able to get a sense of which process would be most helpful to you, and how you would go about choosing a mediator to help. From personal experience, I can for sure guarantee that the mediation process can be a first step, and a very successful step in resolving any dispute you may be involved in…because you truly can a part of the solution!!!


About Your Columnist

Michelle Burkart is a featured columnist for Women Taking Charge, the official blog of Connected Women of Influence, where she covers negotiation and conflict resolution. Currently, Michelle is the owner of TH!NKresolution, where she is a credentialed mediator; Hearing Officer for the San Diego Housing Commission; Member of the San Diego Superior Court Mediation panel as well as the NCRC Commercial Mediation Panel. Michelle manages and conducts business mediation services for TH!NKresolution to include pre-contract facilitation, contract disputes, personnel issues, conflict coaching and training, family business disputes, government agency disputes, and caregiver mediation.


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