Helping Diverse Families Undergoing Divorce Deal with Conflict Constructively

By Natasha Mavash Ali and Michael Waldo.

Published by The Diversity Collection

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

The family is considered the basic building block of a community (Mudd, 1967). Despite being considered a homogeneous group, the family is quite heterogeneous. It consists of members of different ages, personalities, values, abilities, levels of responsibilities, and power. These differences generate conflicts which, if poorly managed, can lead to destructive outcomes for families (Chung, Flook & Fuligni, 2009; Emery, 1982). Mediation is one way to help families constructively manage conflict. Despite the potential benefits of mediation, 30% to 40% of families undergoing mediation complain of not feeling understood (Pearson & Thoennes, 1984a). Mediators may also fail to attend to family members’ relationship concerns (Donohue, Drake & Roberto, 1994), despite family members’ desires to do so. One form of mediation that holds particular promise for resolving family conflicts is Transformative Mediation (TM). TM is thought to transform conflict into a learning experience that improves family functioning (Bush & Pope, 2004). This paper will examine the theoretical justification of incorporating Relationship Enhancement (an intervention designed to improve people’s listening and speaking skills), and interpersonal feedback (an intervention designed to improve people’s ability to address relationship concerns). Both interventions are assumed to enhance TM’s capacity to promote family members’ sense of feeling understood and their ability to discuss relationship concerns. A case illustration will be given at the end to demonstrate the integration of these two interventions into an actual Transformative Mediation involving a diverse couple.

Keywords: Transformative Mediation, Communication Skills, Interpersonal Learning, Family Conflict

International Journal of Diversity in Organizations, Communities and Nations, Volume 11, Issue 4, pp.23-36. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 776.293KB).

Dr. Natasha Mavash Ali

Specialist (Counseling Psychologist), Counseling Center, New Mexico State University, Las Cruces, NM, USA

Dr. Ali is currently a Psychology Resident at New Mexico State University’s Counseling Center. Her professional passions include mediating, counseling, and facilitating diverse groups, couples, and individuals. She recently obtained a Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology from New Mexico State University. She has worked in private practice, university counseling centers, schools, non-profit organizations, and courts counseling and mediating diverse clients. A Canadian who has also lived in England, the Caribbean, and the United States; of East Indian descent but speaks no Hindi; a Muslim who attended Roman Catholic and Presbyterian schools, she embraces the pleasures and challenges that diversity brings.

Dr. Michael Waldo

Professor, Counseling and Educational Psychology, New Mexico State University, Las Cruces, NM, USA

Dr. Waldo is currently a professor in Counseling and Educational Psychology at New Mexico State University. He has served as a university faculty member for over thirty years. His interests include group work, enhancing people’s communication skills, and prevention psychology. In addition to teaching, he engages in research, counseling students, and supervising doctoral and masters’ students. He has co-authored over 45 articles and book chapters, worked around the world including Japan, Guatemala, and China, and presented at multiple conferences worldwide. He loves travelling and riding his motorcycle.


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