There are several different styles of mediation. Not only is it important to find the right mediator for your case, it is also important to find the right mediation style for your case. Many mediators will use more than one style of mediation.
Facilitative Mediation. Facilitative mediation is the original style of mediation. Facilitative mediators seek to “facilitate” the negotiation between the participants. The goal is to help everyone achieve their interests and to reach a durable (long lasting) agreement. Facilitative mediators tend to believe that participants can reach lasting agreements if given enough information, time and support. The facilitative mediator usually does not comment on what would happen if the case went to court (at least not initially). Generally speaking, facilitative mediators tend to come from all backgrounds (legal, mental health, etc.)
Evaluative Mediation. This style of mediation focuses more on the likely or expected outcome in court, and less on meeting the parties' respective interests. Evaluative mediation may be a good choice if you just need to “get it done.” If your trial is coming up, the attorneys may suggest using a mediator who can communicate to each of the parties what the risks and potential outcomes of litigation and trial can be. Parties in an adverse position in litigation often focus on their own view of the dispute; a third party can often help a party understand and appreciate the risks of litigation, and be open to a negotiated solutions. These types of mediators almost always have a legal background, and are either experienced lawyers or retired judges.
Narrative Mediation. Narrative mediation is a style of mediation that focuses on creating a new “story” or “narrative” to understand and reshape the conflict. This often has a life coach or therapeutic set of approaches for the parties to think about. Lawyers with good client relationship skills are frequently sought out as effective mediators using this type of mediation approach. Not surprisingly, sometimes a narrative mediation approach is also used by mediators with a mental health background.
Transformative Mediation. Transformative mediation is an emerging form of mediation that focuses first on repairing the relationship and then on the resolving the dispute. Like narrative mediation, transformative mediation is a very specific style of mediation. This style can be effective when the parties involved in the dispute need to maintain an ongoing relationship with each other. Often transformative mediators will have a mental health background.
The Toolbox Approach. Some mediators fit squarely into one of the above mediation styles. Other mediators take a “toolbox” approach and use whatever style seems most appropriate at the moment. You can get a good sense of the tools that a mediator has by interviewing them.
Michael Kerry Burke has extensive experience in mediating disputes, and is a certified mediator. Michael uses a "toolbox approach". He has been a counselor to numerous businesses and across a variety of industries, and he is comfortable with executives, understanding and empathetic with parties in a dispute, and because of his trial experience, effective at communicating possible (or likely) trial outcomes. If you are considering mediation, call to schedule an interview.