Transformative Mediation

The Institute for the Study of Conflict Transformation’s 2nd International Conference is coming up in September, in St. Paul, MN. The theme is Purpose Drives Practice: An International Conference on Transformative Mediation.

I’ll be presenting a workshop on Open Space Technology on the first day and will be a featured panelist in the closing plenary. I’m looking forward to a fascinating couple of days of connecting the Tranformative Framework and Open Space.

The transformative framework was first articulated by Robert A. Baruch Bush and Joseph P. Folger in The Promise of Mediation in 1994. Since then, transformative theory and practice has grown and is used in mediation, facilitation, and conflict management training all over the world.In the transformative view, conflict is primarily about human interaction rather than “violations of rights” or “conflicts of interest”. Conflict is part of the basic dynamic of human interaction in which people struggle to balance concern for self with connections to others. When this balance is upset, human interaction becomes alienated and destructive, simply put there is a crisis in human interaction.

Specifically, the occurrence of conflict tends to destabilize the parties’ experience of both self and other, so that each party feels both more vulnerable and more self-absorbed than they did before the conflict. Further, these negative attitudes often feed into each other on all sides as parties interact, in a vicious circle that intensifies each party’s sense of weakness and self-absorption. As a result, the interaction between the parties quickly degenerates and assumes a mutually destructive, alienating, and dehumanizing character.

For most people, according to the transformative theory, being caught in this kind of destructive interaction is the most significant negative impact of conflict. However, the transformative framework posits that, despite conflict’s natural destabilizing impacts on interaction, people have the capacity to regain their footing and shift back to a restored sense of strength or confidence in self (the empowerment shift) and openness or responsiveness to the other (the recognition shift). Moreover, these positive moves also feed into each other on all sides, and the interaction can therefore regenerate and assume a constructive, connecting, and humanizing character. The model assumes that this transformation of the interaction itself is what matters most to parties in conflict — even more than resolution on favorable terms.

Pre-Conference Workshops and Trainings will be held Sept. 15-16, 2006, and Main Conference Sept. 17-18. I’ll be presenting a workshop on the 17th and will be a featured panelist on the 18th. Conference Brochure or Online Registration

One Reply to “Transformative Mediation”

  1. I at first misread your words as, “transformative meditation” and “The Purpose Driven Practice!”

    But it might not be so irrelevant. If more people meditated and began developing a sense of self larger than their egos, it would have to help with mediation, which would actually be needed much less.

    And people writing books like Christopher Warren’s, “The Purpose Driven Life” – the only good thing about it is the title – would soon be out of business (dream on…)

Comments are closed.