Solution-Focused Mediation:The Future with a Difference

MediateSolution-Focused Mediation:The Future
with a Difference

Fredrike P. Bannink

Rather than dwelling on the conflict, solution-focused mediation asks:
What would you prefer instead of the conflict? The focus is on the
desired outcome: the future with a difference. Clients are considered
capable of formulating their own goal and of devising solutions. The
expertise of the mediator lies in asking questions that help clients in this
respect and that motivate clients to change. This article demonstrates
that concept and the methodology differ significantly from other types of
mediation. Conversations become increasingly positive and shorter,
ensuring that solution-focused mediation is also cost-effective.
Winning will depend on not wanting the other to lose.

R.Wright,Nonzero: History,
Evolution and Human

The new millennium brings to light several social evolutions. These
changes are visible in several fields. In (mental) health care, for exam-
ple, there is the evolution from lengthy to shorter forms of treatment, with
the emphasis swinging from cure to prevention. Due to the growing eman-
cipation of the client, the “medical model,” in which the practitioner is the
expert, is increasingly being abandoned. The problem-focused model,
where the practitioner first needs to explore and analyze the problem, is
increasingly being replaced by a solution-focused model (Bannink, 2005,
2006a, 2006d, 2007a, 2007b). The same shift from problem-focused
interviewing to solution-focused interviewing is seen in education (Goeiand Bannink, 2005)
and in management and coaching (Cauffman, 2003;Bannink, 2006b).

An evolution is also taking place within the administration of justice;
rather than using a judge, who makes a decision for the parties, the evolutionary process
leads to involving a mediator, who acts as a facilitator in
finding solutions originating from the competence of the clients. Using
mediation, conflicts can often be resolved more rapidly, more economically, and at an
earlier stage, with a more satisfying outcome for the clients.
From the perspective of game theory, mediation revolves around a nonzero-sum game (“win-win”),
whereas a judicial procedure revolves around a zero-sum game (“win-lose”) (Wright, 2000).
Win-win means you either sink or swim together; win-lose means you swim and the other party sinks,
and if the other party swims, you sink.

Solution-Focused Mediation:The Future with a Difference

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