Transformative mediation is an approach to conflict intervention that does not seek an immediate resolution to a problem. Instead, the mediator usually seeks to instill mutual recognition and empowerment between the conflicting parties. The parties then work with the mediator to determine the appropriate resolution process for their situation.
Recognition is generally considered to be an important part of transformative mediation, so that each party can understand how the other one defines the problem. Additionally, the mediator usually leads each party to understand the outcomes that are wanted by everyone involved. This way, both parties can approach the problem with more informed points of view.
An opening statement usually starts the transformative mediation process. In this statement, the mediator, who acts as a neutral third party, will generally explain the forum in which the two parties will discuss their problem. The overall goal is for both parties to come to a settlement that is mutually satisfactory.
Before such a solution can take place, however, the mediator must first work with the parties to develop rules and resolution processes. Mediators will ask questions and make suggestions about these rules and processes. It is the responsibility of the two parties to direct the overall conversation and make settlement suggestions.
While other forms of mediation are typically structured based on a time frame, meetings for parties using transformative mediation are open-ended. This means that meetings can take as much time as necessary. Stress is often considered to be one of the main causes for disagreements. For example, one party might be stressed about the problem, while the other party might be stressed out about what the settlement might be. Open-ended meetings are usually meant to alleviate stress so that the parties can focus on working together.
Problem-solving mediation is often compared to transformative mediation. Both forms of meditation use collaborative processes to come up with a beneficial settlement for the parties involved. Unlike transformative mediation, however, problem-solving mediation sometimes considers emotions to be extraneous to the issues that need to be resolved.
Emotions are usually considered to be an integral part of the transformative mediation process. This is based on the general assumption that emotions make differing points of view easier for the parties to identify with. In addition to being able to freely express their emotions, both parties are also usually told by the mediator that, if they choose, they can pursue other forms of resolution.