In the video interview conducted by here’s what Dan Simon says about the interest-based, Facilitative or problem-solving approach to mediation, along with an introduction to the very different Transformative approach:

Facilitative: The next step of the evolution of mediation [that is, the next step after the very backward settlement-conference approach used by many retired judges and long-time litigator-mediators] is the interest based or problem solving approach [also known as Facilitative], where the mediator sees his or her role as helping the parties have a detailed conversation about what their interests are, in the hope that, with more detail being shared, the parties will be able to figure out a way to meet everybody’s needs or maximize the meeting of each side’s needs.That’s the interest based approach, which is generally how mediation is taught nowadays. It’s the interest based, also known as the facilitative model of mediation. That does indeed to me seem like an improvement over the model where the mediator just does whatever he or she can do to get people to compromise. The interest based approach at least offers the possibility of a win-win result.

Transformative: I myself have adopted the transformative mode which, this is my bias, but I see as the next step in the evolution of mediation. The transformative model looks at conflict as being essentially a crisis in the interaction between the parties. That is, when people are in conflict, they tend to feel both relatively weaker and less competent than normal, and they also, therefore, because they’re feeling weaker and threatened and unsure what to do themselves, they tend not to also be as able to have compassion or understanding for the other person. You’ve got two parties....

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By Dan Simon


Dan Simon teaches and practices transformative mediation in St. Paul, MN. He also writes the blog at The Institute for the Study of Conflict Transformation.