Transformative Mediation | Saint Paul Minnesota

The foundations of transformative mediation are the values of empowerment of each of the parties as much as possible, and recognition by each of the parties of the other parties’ needs, interests, values and points of view.  Terming this process transformative comes from the promise that any or all parties or their relationships may be transformed during the mediation. Therefore the emphasis is not simply on resolving the conflict at hand, rather on the people and their relationship.  The hope always exists that the wellbeing of the parties or their relationship can be improved, whether or not the dispute at hand is presently resolved.

Transformative mediation stands on the belief that conflict tends to make parties feel weak and self-absorbed. Transformative mediators try to change the nature of the parties’ conflict interaction by:

1. Helping them appreciate each other’s viewpoints (“recognition”) and

2. Strengthening their ability to handle conflict in a productive manner (“empowerment”).

The goal of this style is to transform the relationship between the two disputants during the mediation through empowerment and recognition. The mediator actively works to let each party know that they have a voice and are being heard.  The mediator will also intervene in the conversation between the parties in order to call attention to moments of recognition and empowerment.

Transformative mediation empowers parties and helps the parties take responsibility for their own disputes and the resolution of the disputes. In transformative mediation the parties in mediation determine the direction and structure of their own process as well as the outcome of the mediation.  The clients decide whether they really want a resolution, not the mediator. The mediator does not direct the parties to topics or issues. Instead, the mediator follows the parties’ conversation and assist them to talk about what they think is important. The transformative mediator does not offer an opinion on the strengths or weaknesses of the parties’ cases. The mediator does not suggest solutions.

Some criticize transformative mediation as being too idealistic, not focused enough, and not useful for business or court matters – of course those who practice this process adamantly disagree and believe that transformative mediation as ultimately flexible and suited to all types of disputes.

Transformative mediation is considered one of the newer styles of mediation and stems from the book, The Promise of Mediation, by Bush and Folger (1994).


Dr. Jeffrey Dorman has studied multiple styles of mediation – facilitative, evaluative, directive, narrative, and transformative.   He utilizes various mediation styles like tools in a toolbox — selecting like a craftsman the best tool for each individual situation.


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