WHAT I’VE BEEN READING: The Mediator’s Approach by Tara West

I recently read this overview of different mediation approaches and I was incredibly impressed with the author’s understanding of their similarities and differences.

I’ve taught comparative mediation subjects in postgraduate programs for many years, and it’s rare to find someone who can so clearly explain each different approach, and more importantly, do so in a matter of fact and non-judgmental way. Too often comparative work comes across as arguing for or against particular models, and this can frequently create resistance to understanding the different perspectives. As the author shows in this book, the different approaches can speak for themselves, leaving the individual mediator (or prospective mediator) to choose the approach that most connects with their values and “who they want to be in supporting those in conflict”.

The book covers evaluative mediation, facilitative mediation, transformative mediation, understanding-based mediation and narrative mediation. It compares and contrasts them based on the mediation goals, their underlying philosophies about conflict and what’s needed to resolve it, the role of the mediator and the interventions used.

I highly recommend this book for students of mediation and experienced practitioners. It’s a useful reflective tool to support mediators to check in with their practice, where it aligns or differs from the various approaches, and how it fits with their philosophy about conflict and their role as a mediator.

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