Which of the 3 Types of Mediation Will Work Best for You?

Wondering what type of mediator is right for you? Michael Lubofsky explains the three types of mediation services. If one or more of these techniques piques your interest, ask your prospective mediator what style of mediation they use.

Most people seeking mediation want a cost-effective solution that is less contentious than other options. A situation is ripe for mediation when all parties express readiness and willingness to open up and listen to divergent points of view while actively negotiating a resolution to their conflict.

Active participation distinguishes mediation from formal court litigation. Rather than rely on a judge or jury to unilaterally decide a case, in mediation, parties actively craft their own solutions. Though all types of mediation share this fundamental distinction, three specific types of mediation have emerged: facilitative mediation, evaluative mediation, and transformative mediation.

Facilitative mediation

Interpersonal conflict arises when people interpret a factual scenario differently. Some conflicts (e.g., an accident) involve a single event. Other conflicts (e.g., a marital relationship) unfold over the course of time. These scenarios become problematic when one or more parties interpret them in a way that violates their notion of how things "should have" been or how someone "should have" acted. In many cases, the incongruity of what "should have" happened versus what actually happened violates a person's deeply held beliefs.

The violation prompts that person to react defensively or even aggressively when the other party tries to explain or justify their actions. At a time like this, a neutral intermediary can help diffuse the tension. The mediator assumes a facilitative role, fostering constructive discussion between parties. This role is at the heart of facilitative mediation.

Evaluative mediation

In this second category of mediation, the challenges standing in the way of a negotiated resolution have less to do with interpersonal conflict and more to do with a lack of clarity about likely future outcomes for each party. In evaluative mediation, the mediator draws on their professional expertise to clarify the understanding and legal merits of each party's position.

Evaluative mediation is commonly used in complex situations where parties lack a clear understanding of what arguments are likely to be successful or unsuccessful. The mediator helps people clarify the situation, and the parties gain the knowledge or understanding needed to resolve their issues without costly litigation.

Transformative mediation

Transformative mediation allows parties to seize the transformative potential inherent in conflict. Conflict acts as a springboard for personal or spiritual growth. Parties explore the higher ideals of transformative mediation in addition to resolving the practical and legal aspects underlying their dispute. Tension and conflict arise when a person's conditioned sense of "right and wrong" or "good and bad" is challenged. The challenge may distress a person's core sense of self, commonly referred to as "ego."

A transformative mediator creates a safe, comfortable environment where parties articulate and explore their experience with conflict. In addition to the resolution of practical and legal aspects of a divorce, the reward of transformative mediation is heightened self-understanding and freedom from the grip of previously held and entrenched beliefs.


Founder, CEO & Certified Family Law Specialist
Mediation, Divorce Strategy, Divorce Insights, Legal Insights
After over a decade of experience as a Certified Family Law Specialist, Mediator and law firm owner, Erin was fed up with the inefficient and adversarial “divorce corp” industry and set out to transform how consumers navigate divorce - starting with the legal process. By automating the court bureaucracy and integrating expert support along the way, Hello Divorce levels the playing field between spouses so that they can sort things out fairly and avoid missteps. Her access to justice work has been recognized by the legal industry and beyond, with awards and recognition from the likes of Women Founders Network, TechCrunch, Vice, Forbes, American Bar Association and the Pro Bono Leadership award from Congresswoman Barbara Lee. Erin lives in California with her husband and two children, and is famously terrible at board games.