Today I’ll continue in my series describing the alternatives in Alternative Dispute Resolution by discussing another type of mediation, transformative mediation. Transformative mediation was first described by Robert A. Baruch Bush and Joseph P. Folger in The Promise of Mediation.  They describe it that the transformative theory starts: “(…(F)rom the premise that inter-relational crisis is what conflict meant to people.  And help in overcoming that crisis is a major part of what parties want fro a mediator…In the transformative mediation process, parties can recapture their sense of competence and connection, reverse the negative conflict cycle, reestablish a constructive (or at least neutral) interaction, and move forward on a positive footing, with the mediator’s help. “ Transformative mediation is not therapy.  The mediator's goal is not to alter the relationship. Rather, the mediator strives to balance the parties' negotiation power while creating opportunities to address underlying issues, within the context of resolving the presenting dispute. 

Unique qualities: 

transformative mediation is good for family dispute, divorce and custody

The goal in transformative mediation is not to settle all costs, but to expand the opportunity to reach a deep and durable resolution while fostering the parties’ ability to address both the current and future problems.  The responsibility on the outcome rests with the parties.  The mediator does not work to be viewed as an expert to create solutions, but a skilled facilitator to create the opportunity for resolutions.

Steps or stages:

Mediation is convened by the neutral facilitator who works with the parties to develop the course for the discussion. The mediation does not usually begin with each side creating an argument or proposing a resolution.


  • Avoids mediator directiveness.

  • Increases skills of both sides to make better decisions for themselves.

  • Greater opportunity for a deep, durable agreement.


  •  Usually takes longer.

  • May frustrate parties who expect to come to mediation to reach a quick settlement.

  • Requires higher skill level.

Best for:

transformative mediation neighbors

Workplace, Family, Homeowner Associations

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