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  • Writer's pictureTemara Willis

Exploring Mediation Styles: A Comprehensive Guide by Adelaide Family Mediation

Updated: Dec 30, 2023

A woman sitting on a lounge contemplating mediation styles discussed in the blog post by Adelaide Family Mediation.

Welcome to Adelaide Family Mediation, where I, a dedicated family mediator, delve into the diverse world of mediation styles. Navigating family disputes involves a nuanced approach, and practitioners employ various styles to address the unique needs of each case. While the Attorney General's Department sets certain obligations for Family Dispute Resolution Practitioners, the facilitation style remains a personalised choice based on practitioner and participant preferences.


Family Dispute Resolution Practitioners adhere to crucial obligations, including confidentiality, intake and assessments, providing information to disputing parties, reporting child abuse, avoiding conflicts of interest, and issuing Section 60I Certificates or Certificates of Dispute Resolution.


Understanding Mediation


At its core, mediation is an interactive process where a neutral mediator collaborates with parties to negotiate and settle matters outside the courtroom. This ensures that parties retain control over outcomes, with most issues resolved before reaching legal proceedings.


The Power of Mediation


Mediation stands out as an excellent dispute resolution tool, offering parties the opportunity to achieve the best outcome for their situation while maintaining control. Finding the right mediator and mediation style is crucial for success.


Adelaide Family Mediation will use more than one mediation style, depending on the situation. A few techniques are widely known and used, and others are emerging. So what are they?


1. Facilitative mediation


Facilitative is the most familiar style of family mediation and has been around since the 1960s. Facilitative mediation aims to support all parties in meeting their needs and developing a sustainable and long-lasting agreement. Facilitative mediators believe that parties can reach a sustainable agreement if they have the information and the time to work through the negotiation process. Facilitative mediators don't advise the matter's likely outcome should the case proceed to court. Facilitative mediation allows the parties involved to come to a reasonable conclusion with the support and guidance of an unbiased mediator without pushing for a specific outcome or giving too many of our own opinions during the session.


2. Evaluative mediation

Evaluative mediation is all about negotiating and reaching an outcome. You can have this if I can have that... The focus is more on recognising the likely result if the parties went to court and less on the parties' personal interests or wants. This is a great option when parties are looking for a fast outcome and want to get through the process quickly. This style is commonly used and has more structure than the facilitative approach.


3. Narrative mediation


Narrative mediation focuses on reshaping a conflict by creating a new 'story' or 'narrative' around the dispute to find a reasonable agreement. It is a newer mediation approach and focuses on reshaping conflict by talking through past issues and creating a new narrative around the conflict to find an appropriate agreement. This isn't a typical mediation style, and not all mediators practice the narrative style.


4. Transformative mediation


Transformative mediation is newer and focuses on fixing the relationship between parties engaging in conflict coaching before moving on to resolve the matters in dispute. Mediators who practise this style tend to have a counselling or social science background. Transformative mediation is not always suitable and can't be forced by one party onto the other. It can take longer and is less effective if you want a parenting plan or financial settlement in just one or two sessions. Still, it is beneficial for parents who don't communicate effectively and want to work towards a healthier co-parenting relationship.


Adelaide Family Mediation's Approach


We employ all four mediation styles, tailoring our approach to your unique case. Consulting with clients, we identify the most suitable style based on desired outcomes, recognising that different situations warrant different approaches. Our commitment is to provide personalised and effective mediation for individuals navigating family conflicts.


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