Mediation Approaches

Are there different types of mediation?

Yes, the four most common types of mediation practiced in Maryland are called “analytical”, “facilitative”, “inclusive” and “transformative”.

  • The mediator is neutral (s/he does not take sides in the disagreement).
  • The process is confidential.
  • You and the other side determine the outcomes.

However, the role of the mediator is a bit different in each type.

Facilitative Mediation: Facilitative mediation is based on the belief that, with neutral assistance, people can work through and resolve their own conflicts. In a facilitative mediation, the mediator will take an active role in controlling the "process." Process means things like setting the ground rules for how the problem will be solved. The mediator asks questions to identify the interests of the parties and the real issues in the disagreement. The mediator helps the parties explore solutions that benefit both parties (sometimes called "win/win" solutions). In a facilitative mediation, the mediator does not offer an opinion on the strengths and weaknesses of the parties' cases. The  mediator does not suggest solutions.

Transformative Mediation: Transformative mediation is based 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:

  • Helping them appreciate each others viewpoints ("recognition") and
  • Strengthening their ability to handle conflict in a productive manner ("empowerment"). 

The mediator will intervene in the conversation between the parties in order to call attention to moments of recognition and empowerment. Ground rules for the mediation are set only if the parties set them. 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.

Analytical Mediation: Analytical mediation is based on the belief that mediators with expertise in the issues in conflict can help the parties to:

  • Assess the strengths and weaknesses of their legal or other positions and
  • Work to achieve settlements. In evaluative mediation, the mediator controls the process and suggests solutions for resolving the conflict. 

Individual meetings between the mediator and one party at a time (called "caucuses") are a major component of evaluative mediation. The focus of an evaluative mediation is primarily upon settlement. The mediators will make their best efforts to get the parties to compromise, if necessary, to achieve a result.

Inclusive Mediation:  Inclusive mediation is based on the belief that, with support and guidance through a problem-solving process, the parties, not the mediators, will develop a solution that meets their needs.  An inclusive mediation is always done with two mediators in a co-mediator model.  Mediators focus on strategically listening for values, feelings, and topics and reflect these back to the participants using language that captures the intensity the participants expressed.  Mediators follow a defined process that includes time for participants to talk about whatever they chose, build clarity as to what is important, identify topics participants want to resolve, identify the goals each participant has for each topic, brainstorm options, consider each of the generated options in terms of which would meet all participants’ goals, and determine areas of agreement, if any. 

Maryland Program for Mediator Excellence, Mediation Descriptions.

What is the most commonly used form of mediation?

No one form of mediation is most commonly used. Some mediators prefer to use one approach exclusively in their mediation sessions. (In fact, some programs require that the mediators use only one style of mediation.) Many mediators can, and do, use many approaches. You may find that a mediator uses parts of some or all of the three approaches we discussed above (facilitative, transformative and evaluative).

Is this legal advice?

This site offers legal information, not legal advice.  We make every effort to ensure the accuracy of the information and to clearly explain your options.  However we do not provide legal advice - the application of the law to your individual circumstances. For legal advice, you should consult an attorney.  The Maryland Thurgood Marshall State Law Library, a court-related agency of the Maryland Judiciary, sponsors this site.  In the absence of file-specific attribution or copyright, the Maryland Thurgood Marshall State Law Library may hold the copyright to parts of this website. You are free to copy the information for your own use or for other non-commercial purposes with the following language “Source: Maryland's People’s Law Library – © Maryland Thurgood Marshall State Law Library, 2020.”