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|
Specialist (Counseling Psychologist), Counseling Center, New Mexico State University, Las Cruces, NM, USA
Professor, Counseling and Educational Psychology, New Mexico State University, Las Cruces, NM, USA
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