Different Styles of Mediation

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.

1. Facilitative Mediation

Facilitative is the most structured and the most utilized style of mediation (Linden). In the 1960’s and 1970’s, Facilitative mediation was the mainstream—the only style taught or practiced. The facilitative mediator “asks questions; validates and normalizes parties’ points of view; searches for interests underneath the positions taken by parties; and assists the parties in finding and analyzing options for resolution” (Zumeta). A mediator using this style is completely neutral. He or she does not give advice, recommendations or opinions (Etcheson 394). Zumeta states that the reason the facilitative mediator does not offer advice, recommendations or opinions is because this style developed when most mediators were volunteers and, thus, were not required to have expertise in the area of the dispute.

Facilitative mediation is widely taught and utilized today. The process is structured in such a way that the mediator assists the parties by asking questions; at the same time, he or she validates and normalizes the points of view of the parties in conflict. However, it is up to the parties in conflict to arrive at a successful and fair conclusion to the conflict. In facilitative mediation, the mediator avoids making recommendations or giving his or her advice, believing that the role of the mediator is simply to facilitate a resolution. Therefore, the mediator allows the parties to be in complete control of the outcome.
2. Transformative Mediation
This newer concept in the field of mediation was coined in 1994 by Folger and Bush in their book The Promise of Mediation. As a form of facilitative mediation, transformative mediation focuses on the values of “empowerment” and “recognition” as keywords, and parties meet together because it is only through meeting face-to-face that the concept of “recognition” can truly happen. As with facilitative mediation, transformative mediation is structured so that the parties are in control of the outcome and the mediator is a facilitator to this conclusion.  The goal of transformative mediation is not necessarily a decision, but rather creating a process in which both parties may learn and  grow and change – thereby experiencing some sort of personal transformation of thought or action because of going through this mediation process.
Transformative mediation is considered one of the newer styles of mediation. This style was labeled “transformative” in the book, The Promise of Mediation by Bush and Folger. While the transformative style still keeps the structure of the facilitative style, it also seeks to empower each of the parties and encourage each party to recognize the other party’s point of view. The goal of this style is to transform the relationship between the two disputants during the mediation through empowerment and recognition (Zumeta). This style focuses a great deal on interaction and communication between the disputants (Linden).
3. Evaluative Mediation
Evaluative mediation developed in the 1980’s in response to the increased number of court-ordered and court-referred mediations (Etcheson 394). The evaluative mediator intervenes in the mediation more than the facilitative mediator by making recommendations or providing opinions as to what might occur should the case go back to court (Zumeta). Evaluative mediation is often used when money is an issue in the dispute. The evaluative mediator often has some expertise “in the substance of the dispute and applies his or her knowledge to offer an opinion of the merits of the case. This evaluation can either apply to the legal issues or factual issues, be they financial, engineering related or otherwise” (Russell). A mediator using this style may also point out strengths and/or weaknesses of the positions proposed by each side of the dispute.
Evaluative mediation as a style of mediation was developed out of court-mandated mediation and is a process that is patterned after the typical settlements held by judges. A mediator who practices evaluative mediation helps the parties in conflict arrive at a resolution by showing them the weaknesses in their case and evaluating what a judge or jury would be likely to decide if the case were brought to litigation. Focusing on legal rights of the parties instead of “fairness”, an evaluative mediator will likely meet with each party and their attorney in separate meetings. The process of evaluative mediation usually involves a point-by-point evaluation of cost vs. benefits in deciding to pursue legal action in a case, and because of this, most evaluative mediators are attorneys.
4. Directive Mediation
Directive mediation is a subset of evaluative mediation that relies on a person bringing expertise in a particular field to meet with disputants and encourage them to negotiate. This expert also collects alleged facts, evidence and arguments, and gives information, opinion and advice.  The expertise of the directive mediator may be for example in:  farming, building, business economics, child development, or some specialization of “law”.  Directive mediaion has also been called “advisory” mediation.
5.  Narrative mediation
The last style to be described is Narrative mediation. Narrative mediation “borrows much of work from narrative therapy” (Billikopf-Encina, “Narrative Mediation…” 100). This style of mediation presupposes that people become caught in the conflict cycle because they see themselves as being bound to it. A mediator using this style gets the parties to view the conflict from a distance, through story telling. After they finish with the story, the parties work with the mediator to create a new story where the conflict is replaced by an agreement leading to resolution. The goal is to get the parties to detach themselves from the conflict (101). Linden states that this style works well when the disputants have an on-going relationship past the 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. Narrative mediation is a very specific method of mediation so be sure to ask if your mediator has training in the narrative style. Often narrative mediators will have a mental health background.
6. Concord Mediation

Concord Mediation fully subscribes to the fact that the best resolution is one that the parties can easily sign up to in terms of it being “their own” but also recognizes that we have a role in suggesting feasible outcomes and helping parties to consider options that might not otherwise have arisen. Mediate Ireland, adopting the concord approach comes from a position that most disputes, not all, can be resolved in a short period. A single day is our point of reference – but always making due allowance that it may take a bit longer, or even be concluded within a shorter period of hours. Concord Mediation seeks to bring the best practices of the evaluative, facilitative and transformative methods into a structured process that can be complied with and followed throughout such a specific time period. Thus can resolution be achieved very quickly and cost effectively.