The book The Promise of Mediation, written by Baruch Bush and Joe Folger, outlines two different approaches to mediation: problem-solving and transformative. A problem-solving mediator uses a highly controlled process that directs the “substance of the discussion” (Burgess, 1997). Problem-solving mediators highlight the areas that the parties agree on, while avoid areas of disagreement. This approach means that problem-solving mediators play a large role in in “crafting settlement terms and obtaining the parties' agreement,” even though in theory all decisions are made by the participants (Burgess, 1997).
The transformative mediation approach differs from problem-solving mediation and allows the mediation process to empower participant’s decision making skills along with mutual recognition. According to authors Bush and Folger, empowering the participants during mediations allows them to “define their own issues and to seek solutions on their own” (Burgess, 1997). Since conflict tends to be a long term process, transformative mediation provides an opportunity for growth and transformation. Empowerment paves the way for a mutually agreed up on settlement to their current problem, and empowers the participants to use the tools during future disputes. The participants, not necessarily the mediator, become primarily responsible for the outcome (Folberg, 2004).
The first stage to the STAR approach is for the mediator to convene with and bring the participants to the negotiation table, and this step is considered to take place at an earlier stage in the process. According to Mediator and Author, Judy Cohen, “mediators, or other convenors, can use pre-session preparation to ensure that all parties understand the process and can participate effectively” (Cohen, 2003). When parties understand the mediation process, they develop a sense of willingness to participate in the mediation. A transformative mediator should gather data through interviews before the session in order to explain the concepts of mediation and at the same time allow parties to set goals, direct the process, and frame issues for themselves. During the discussion, the participants can raise questions and expressions of concern, which the mediator or convenor can then address. Addressing the participants’ concerns prior to the mediation, will assist in getting them open and responsive to the mediation process (Cohen, 2003).
According to Chris Moore, in his book The Mediation Process, having the mediator gather information known as “conflict analysis” before the actual mediation session will assist the mediator in developing a plan to help the participants (Cohen, 2003). From my personal perspective, I think having pre-mediation session with participants during the convene stage will help participants effectively communicate and share different perspectives with each other during the mediation.
The second stage to the STAR approach is for the mediator to get the mediation started...