Facilitative mediation is the classic mediation style that likely comes to mind when most people think of mediation. The mediator’s role in this style of mediation is to provide the structure of the session and to guide the parties through the mediation process with the goal of helping parties reach an agreement. In facilitative mediation, the mediator will:
- ask questions
- re-frame positions
- help the parties explore areas of common ground
- help the parties discover and resolve previously- unaddressed issues that are tied to the main conflict
- come up with creative solutions to issues
In a facilitative mediation, the mediator will not:
- evaluate the strengths or weaknesses of either party’s case or arguments
- express opinions about or make predictions as to how a judge or jury would decide the case
- provide legal opinions or recommendations
Ultimately, in a facilitative mediation session, the parties decide whether they will reach an agreement and what that agreement will entail. If the parties reach a settlement, the mediator often handles the work of drafting the agreement and will help ensure that the parties have worked through any contingencies to ensure a final disposition of the conflict.
Facilitative mediation tends to be the mediation style of choice for parties who put a high value on maintaining their relationship, as a settlement in a facilitative mediation session requires consent and collaboration of both parties. This stands in contrast to evaluative mediation, arbitration, and litigation, in that in these methods, a judgment comes from a third party who will decide a winner and loser.