What follows is based on the principle that a theory or set of theories explains a process or event, that from this explanation it is possible to identify a practice or set of practices that will achieve a given outcome, that reflection/evaluation/research on the implementation of the practice and the extent to which it achieves or contributes to the achievement of the given outcome allows the formulation of changes or developments to theory, practice or both (based on Kolb, 1984)
Image: Kolb's learning cycle
My starting point is that in mediation in the UK, in family mediation in particular, and at this moment in time there are three types of mediation:
These three types of mediation represent three different approaches to conflict and it’s management/resolution.
Transformative mediation works from a theory of conflict interaction, evaluative mediation works from negotiation theories and facilitative mediation straddles the middle ground working from theories of conflict dynamics, communication, negotiation and a range of other theories practitioners may bring to the table. In doing so there is a danger that what is included in facilitative mediation is as individual as its practitioners, which I believe contributes to the current in-fighting between lawyers/structural/problem solving mediators and therapeutic/impasse/interpersonal mediators.
I am aware that some facilitative mediators are resistant to the idea of a theory, believing it to be constraining and potentially to prevent artistry in practice. My own thought is that a consistent theoretical framework will liberate us to develop mediation practice by incorporating in a consistent and coherent way all those ideas that individual practitioners bring and make them available to all practitioners to the ultimate benefit of our clients.
Kolb D.A. (1984) 'Experiential Learning experience as a source of learning and development', New Jersey: Prentice Hall
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