Article : « What Is A Humanistic Approach to Mediation? An Overview » par Mark Umbreit and Ted Lewis, Center for Restorative Justice and Peacemaking, January 2015



« To what extent can the human-element be subtracted from or added to a mediation process? That is the main question revolving around a humanistic approach to mediation and dialogue. By way of analogy, consider how a computer-generated voice could provide an audio bedtime story to a child who turns the pages of a picture book when prompted by a beep. Consider now what is added when a parent’s voice resonates near the child’s head, when the child can snuggle near the parent’s body, and the parent can reply to questions or comments raised by the child. The latter scenario simply has more of the human-element in it.

There is little question as to whether mediation processes according to any approach can have good results. Compared to most litigative processes, a mediation that is strictly settlement-driven or technique-oriented can deliver positive outcomes, no less than an audio tape can deliver good story content and put a child to sleep with inspiring thoughts. The question at hand is whether a mediation process that allows for more of the human-element can have greater results. While more research is needed in this area, anecdotal evidence from post-mediation evaluations and conversations affirms that a humanistic approach does lead to more satisfying outcomes. Central to this evidence is the concept that when parties do more of their own work to solve an issue, they get more out of the process. This article will provide an overview of what this approach actually entails.

A humanistic approach to mediation is fully aligned with a transformative approach as set forth by Bush and Folger, and yet it also adds several new emphases. In The Promise of Mediation the authors even use the term “humanize”, recognizing the inherent strengths within parties that help them gain greater confidence in themselves and greater empathy for the other party. Developed at the same time in the early 1990s, largely in the context of working with victims and offenders of severe crimes, humanistic mediation has emphasized three things that complement transformative mediation:

• the power of preparation meetings

• the power of mediator presence

• the power of party-to-party conversation (Extrait)

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