Transforming Conflict by Building Relationships-2nd Edition

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Transforming Conflict by Building Relationships:
A Manual for Conflict Resolution and Mediation

2nd Edition

by Patrick J. Ashton, Ph.D.


About this Manual

 This manual is designed to accompany a 45-hour college course in conflict resolution and mediation. There are two major goals for the course: (1) developing practical conflict resolution techniques with wide application in work organizations, families, and the community; and (2) certifying those who successfully complete the course as community mediators. While the training is neither designed nor approved for the development of certified family mediators, its goal is to produce individuals who can volunteer as community mediators in various nonprofit mediation and dispute resolution centers.

 The manual is also designed in a way that allows for self-study. Self-study alone, of course, cannot create successful mediators. Active hands-on practice through roleplays and other simulations guided by trained coaches is necessary. But the person who dedicates themselves to reading the manual and doing the exercises will be rewarded with insights and skills that will enable them to be a more effective resolver and transformer of conflict.

 The materials in this manual, as well as the philosophy underlying and animating them, are the intellectual offspring of many who have gone before. I am particularly indebted to those who trained me. Bob Gross, formerly of Education for Conflict Resolution, Inc., has not only developed many valuable materials, but also modeled for me what good mediation training can be. Barbara Dat is the author or the inspiration for many of the exercises in this manual. I owe her a great debt of gratitude for giving me a more complex and subtle understanding of conflict resolution, as well as being a mentor and an excellent role model as a trainer. I also wish to acknowledge the assistance and creative input of those who have helped me teach the course over the years, especially Marsha Banicki Graham, Terri Emrick, Wayne Williams, Shelly Gilliland, Norma Lickey, and Terri Jones.

 Community Boards of San Francisco, it is fair to say, is the organizational grandparent of contemporary community-oriented mediation groups. Their materials, which played a large role in my own training, clearly reflect the more than three decades of experience this organization has had in working toward community and individual empowerment. Also of great value to me have been the extensive materials compiled by the Mennonite Conciliation Service in its excellent manual. To me (and many others), it is the gold standard of manuals. Nearly every mediation manual I have ever examined has quoted and/or reprinted extensively from the MCS manual. Clearly it is widely respected in the community mediation field.

 The philosophy of mediation and conflict resolution that underlies the present manual is fundamentally transformative in orientation. That is, it seeks not merely or even primarily to assist the parties in a dispute to solve their own problems, but rather to empower the parties, provide them with individual recognition, and dignify and heal the relationship between them. This transformative approach was articulated more than fifteen years ago by Robert Baruch Bush and Joseph Folger (1994). Recently they have reflected on the widespread adoption of the model and documentation of its effectiveness and benefits (Bush and Folger 2005). However, I would argue that these authors, like a number of people in the mediation field, have come to interpret transformative mediation as an essentially anarchic approach that leaves the parties to do almost whatever they want, with very little guidance from the mediator, as illustrated by a sample mediation in Bush and Folger s recent edition of their book. It is my intention to rescue the transformative approach by allowing mediators to be proactive in clarifying issues and finding common ground while maintaining a focus on empowerment and mutual recognition of the parties.  Moreover, as a sociologist, I feel compelled to go beyond the almost exclusive focus of most approaches on interpersonal relationships to examine issues of inequality and exploitation produced by the social structure. Real conflict resolution, encompassing meaningful and lasting change, can only come about, I believe, by focusing on both the interpersonal and the structural levels. Sociology as an intellectual discipline has a long history of analyzing conflict and pointing out the positive role it can play in fostering social change and personal growth. I am proud to claim this tradition for my own, and to turn its focus to mediation and conflict resolution as forms of individual and community empowerment.

ISBN: 978-1-934849-87-3

281 Pages plus accompanying DVD of Meditation Role Plays


This product was added to our catalog on Tuesday 14 February, 2012.

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