A mediator with a transformative orientation fundamentally believes:
Human beings are inherently social or connected beings, motivated primarily by moral impulse to act with both strength and compassion. We have inherent capacities for both self-determined choice and responsiveness to others.
Conflict is viewed a crisis in human interaction. (Rather than as a struggle for domination or competition for limited resources.)
Therefore, parties in conflict want most of all to change their interaction with each other from destructive to constructive if they only knew how.
Parties do not need a third-party mediator to problem-solve or argue for them. Rather, parties need help in overcoming the crisis and restoring constructive interaction.
The Transformative Difference
Settlement is not the goal (as it is with legal or facilitative mediation), but it can be the outcome. Successful outcomes include:
Shifts away from the vicious cycle of destructive communication to a virtuous cycle of interaction
Increased capacity for future decision-making and communication
The intention of the mediator is to foster empowerment and recognition (aka understanding) of and between the parties. If transformative mediators do their job well, parties are likely to make positive changes in their interactions and, as a result, are empowered to find acceptable terms for themselves. Often, parties find more creative solutions than they originally thought possible. Parties are also then poised to have more effective communications - with less destructive conflict - in the future.
Excerpted from Mediation: Principles and Practice (c) 2010 Institute for the Study of Conflict Transformation, Inc. Transformativemediation.org