Every choice a mediator makes throughout the process alters the cour_se of the mediation. Determining “why we mediate” provides a direction for those ch_01ces. There are two primary philosophical approaches to mediation: the transformative approach and the problem-solving approach.
Transformative Approach The goal of transformative mediation (also called concil~atory mediation) is ~o build healthy relationships, improve communication between parties, create understanding, and promote healthy communities. Robert A. Baruch Bush and ~~se_ph ~- Folg_er, in their_ 1994 book The Promise of Mediation, capture the spirit of reconciliation in their exploration of transformative mediation. Bush and Folger (1994) believe every choice is biased on the mediator’s worldview and past experience. A major concern for Bush and Folger is the “~ias to settle,:· which they view as a weakness of the problem-solving approach where mediators subtly influence the parties toward settlement. Instead of focusing on the problems to be solved, the transfor mative mediator should focus on the growth of the individuals.
Transformation mediators assist the parties in discovering their personal values, empower the disputants’ inner strengths, and help each pe~son to reco~nize and ~1:1pa thize with the other party. Self determination (letting the parties make their o_wn dec1~10ns) is of paramount consideration. Transform~tlve mediators arrive with a mental map and list of questions to help the parties through a Journey of self discovery that may or may not lead to problem resolution. Fr_om t~is perspective, mediators assume that once the parties are transformed, problem solving will follow naturally.