Summary of "Mediation: A Comprehensive Guide to Resolving Conflicts without Litigation"

Summary of

Mediation: A Comprehensive Guide to Resolving Conflicts without Litigation

By Jay Folberg and Alison Taylor

Summary written by Conflict Research Consortium Staff

Citation: Mediation: A Comprehensive Guide to Resolving Conflicts without Litigation, Jay Folberg and Alison Taylor. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Publishers, 1984, 392 pp.

Mediation: A Comprehensive Guide to Resolving Conflicts without Litigation describes the basic knowledge and skills necessary for effective mediation. It serves as a training manual for beginning mediators.

Mediation: A Comprehensive Guide to Resolving Conflicts without Litigation will be of interest to those seeking to develop mediation skills. This work is divided into thirteen chapters in four parts, with appendices. The text opens with a brief foreword by Morton Deutsch. Each chapter closes with suggestions for further readings.

The chapters in Part One provide an introduction to mediation and conflict resolution more generally. The first chapter defines mediation as "the process by which the participants, together with the assistance of a neutral person or persons, systematically isolate disputed issues in order to develop options, consider alternatives, and reach a consensual settlement that will accommodate their needs."[7] The chapter presents a brief overview of the history of mediation, its rationale, and desired functions. The authors describe eight basic principles which underlie the practice of mediation. Chapter Two discusses the nature of conflict and conflict resolution more generally. Drawing upon the work of notable conflict theorists, the authors explore a variety of approaches to conflict. They distinguish between conflicts and disputes, and describe the conflict process. Various approaches to conflict resolution are described and contrasted, including mediation, problem-solving, negotiation, counseling, and adjudication or arbitration.

Part Two explores the mediation process. Chapter Three presents mediation as a seven stage process, and describes each stage in some detail. The first stage of mediation begins by establishing a structure and building trust among the participants. Next comes fact-finding and clarification of the issues. After that the parties may begin to explore their options and alternatives. Stage four is the negotiation phase. Following this the parties refine and write down their agreements. The final stages cover legal review of the settlement, implementation, and revision. Chapter Four focuses on the psychological aspects of mediation, and applies counseling concepts to developing better mediation skills. This chapter explores basic theories of human motivation, and human needs. It describes the relation between affect, behavior and cognition. Various blocks to communication are discussed, including grief, anger, stress and anxiety. Chapter Five suggests methods for enhancing communication within the mediation setting. The authors describe the use of directive and bridging statements, and the use of different types of questions. Nonverbal cues are identified and their meanings explained.

Part Three describes the various applications of mediation. Chapter Six provides an overview of various types of mediation, including labor, court-connected, community, crisis, and therapeutic mediation. Chapter Seven focuses on family and divorce mediation. Issues addressed include family development, finances, child custody, and unequal power between parties. Chapter Eight discusses housing and neighborhood mediation, mediation of educational disputes, police and crisis mediation, mediation of workplace conflicts, minority relations mediation and environmental mediation.

The chapters of Part Four discuss mediation as a profession. Chapter Nine discusses mediator training, and Ten raises legal, ethical and professional issues in mediation. Subsequent chapters describe how to set up a practice as a professional mediator. The final chapter discusses the impact of ethnic differences on mediation, and identifies some general ethnic perspectives. Ways of dealing with depression and resistance to mediation are also discussed.

Mediation: A Comprehensive Guide to Resolving Conflicts without Litigation offers a clear and comprehensive guide to the practice of mediation in a variety of settings.