Visitor, Complainant, Customer:
Motivating Clients To Change In Mediation
This article is derived from Fredrike P. Bannink’s book Handbook of Solution Focused Conflict Management (2010), Cambridge MA: Hogrefe Publishing.
It would be nice if both clients and mediator could begin with the assumption that the mediation procedure is being used as intended: to find solutions together to re-establish dialogue, to settle a case, or to put something behind them. For this, sometimes changes in personal behavior are required. However, commitment to mediation and the motivation to make these personal behavioral changes are not synonymous. If a client is willing to participate in mediation (commitment), this does not necessarily signify that he is also willing to change his own behavior. Often clients will (silently) hope that the mediator will see the other person as the one who is to blame for the conflict so that only his behavior needs to change.
In a solution focused approach, it is the task and challenge of the mediator to assist clients to make changes and help them to leave the ditches they dug themselves into. Therefore this article is not meant for mediators who do not think it is their job or do not want to assist with change of behavior. This article discusses the methods of assessing the clients’ motivation to change and how this change can be encouraged, so a positive outcome in mediation is enhanced. In this process the mediator assesses the type of relationship he has with each client to optimize cooperation.