Mediation is a conflict resolution method in which a neutral third party brings the conflicting parties together to talk about and resolve the conflict. Mediation can be an alternative to litigation, a process of resolving a dispute through civil court, which can often times be costly and time consuming.
There are four different types of mediation:
Which type is best for a given situation depends on the nature of the conflict.
Facilitative mediation is the most common form of mediation. In this method, the mediator does not offer suggestions or opinions, but rather guides the process toward an agreement between parties.
The mediator thus does not have any investment in the outcome; he/she is simply there to create a safe space and atmosphere in which the parties can:
Transformative mediation is a style of mediation focused on changing the relationship between disputing parties, regardless of whether or not an agreement is reached.
Like facilitative mediation, the mediator is definitively neutral; he/she is not sharing opinions or coming up with resolutions.
The idea behind transformative mediation is that the conflict is really a crisis in communication; the mediator is helping the conflicting parties to:
If these things happen, then the process is considered a success even though it may not end in an actual settlement or agreement.
Evaluate mediation, or evaluative mediation, is a style of mediation in which the mediator is allowed to offer suggestions or opinions for consideration or inclusion in an agreement.
This style differs quite a bit from facilitative and transformative mediation because the evaluative mediator’s opinions can contribute to the resolution.
However, the mediator can only offer these opinions if the parties agree that they would like this to happen.
EXAMPLEEvaluate mediation could be appropriate in a situation where the mediator has some particular expertise or informational resources that the parties don't have. In this case, the parties might like to hear about these resources from the mediator.
Lastly, mediation-arbitration (sometimes referred to as med-arb) is a style of mediation in which the mediator has the authority to switch roles to that of an arbiter in order to decide on an outcome if parties are unable to reach an agreement.
Because this style enables the mediator to actually step out of the neutral role and make a decision for the two parties if they can’t come to that decision on their own, mediation-arbitration goes a little beyond the scope of evaluate mediation.