Empowerment in the mediation context is referred to as increasing the skills of both sides to make better decisions for themselves and further, ‘the restoration to individuals of a sense of their own value and strength and their own capacity to handle life’s problems’ (Bush and Folger, 2004; pp 156).
Empowerment occurs in transformative mediation when the opportunities arise to increase the parties’ clarity about or skills with regards to goals, resources, options or preferences and then they use this information to make their own ‘clear and deliberate decisions.’ This type of empowerment is called skill-based empowerment, meaning that parties are empowered by improving their own conflict-resolution skills. Parties are empowered when they learn how to listen, communicate, analyse issues, evaluate alternatives, and make decisions more effectively than they could before (Bush and Folger, 2007; pp 85).
‘Empowerment is achieved when disputing parties experience a strengthened awareness of their own self-worth and their own ability to deal with whatever difficulties they face regardless of external constraints’ (Bush and Folger, 2004; pp 156).
Unlike facilitative or problem-solving mediation, transformative mediators take a secondary role, rather than a leading role in the process. It is said that they ‘follow the parties’ around, and let the parties take the process where they want it to go. The transformative mediator aims to foster parties’ clarity and skills in a way that allows the parties to maintain control of both the process and the substance of the discussions (Spangler, B, 2003).
- Bush, R A. Baruch and Folger, J P., 2004: The Promise of Mediation: The Transformative Approach to Conflict, 2nd ed. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Publishers.
- Bush, R A. Baruch and Folger, J P., 2007: The Promise of Mediation, pp 266-275
- Spangler, B, 2003. Problem-Solving Mediation. Beyond Intractability. Eds. Guy Burgess and Heidi Burgess. Conflict Information Consortium, University of Colorado, Boulder. Posted: September.