A Humanistic Approach to Mediation and Dialogue: An Evolving Transformative Practice

AuthorMark Umbreit,Ted Lewis
Published date01 September 2015
Date01 September 2015
C R Q, vol. 33, no. 1, Fall 2015 3
© 2015 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. and the Association for Confl ict Resolution
Published online in Wiley Online Library (wileyonlinelibrary.com) • DOI: 10.1002/crq.21130
A Humanistic Approach to Mediation and Dialogue:
An Evolving Transformative Practice
Ted Lewis
Mark Umbreit
e humanistic approach to mediation developed in parallel to Bush and
Folger’s transformative mediation in the 1990s. While fully harmoniz-
ing with transformative mediation, humanistic mediation emphasizes
a greater departure from skill-based techniques and gives less attention
to problem solving. By highlighting the humanizing capacities of medi-
ators, parties, and communication processes, the humanistic approach
deepens a dialogue process as it fosters good mediator presence and the
uninterrupted fl ow of “heart language” between parties. Nine areas of
practice, including preparation meetings, nondirective mediation, and
use of silence, are presented in their applicability to both restorative
justice and dispute resolution contexts.
Twenty years ago, e Promise of Mediation by Bush and Folger (1994)
revealed a growing awareness in the fi elds of confl ict resolution and
restorative justice that the strongest resolution between mistrusting par-
ties is primarily a matter of internal shifts rather than a matter of external
settlements. At that time, the authors also recognized how the transforma-
tive potentialities within mediation held broader implications for social
harmony and systemic change. Ten years later, the revised edition of e
Promise of Mediation (Bush and Folger 2005) highlighted how the decade
since the fi rst edition had brought about a greater acceptance for the trans-
formational model. More practice and research were confi rming that par-
ties left sessions with “a fi rmer connection with each other and a greater
awareness of their own potential resources—resources they could draw
from when confronted with [future] confl icts” (34).

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