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Purpose in practice: Exploring common ground across different mediation contexts

Purpose in practice: Exploring common ground across different mediation contexts

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Lesley Allport, Independent Mediator

Keywords: practice, purpose, context, sector, ideology, settlement, empowerment, conflict end, communication, relationship repair, resolution

Abstract: This article examines the similarities and differences of practice and purpose across all fields of mediation delivery. It outlines conclusions from research conducted as part of my PhD in 2016. I was seeking to establish how far there is an understanding of mediation, its purpose, the way it is delivered and the principles by which it is governed that would be recognised and shared by mediators regardless of the context. My conclusions are based on findings from interviews with practitioners working across a variety of sectors. They reveal that mediation achieves multiple purposes which can be organised into themes including: ‘empowerment’, ‘ending the conflict’, ‘improving communication’, ‘relationship repair’, ‘resolving issues’ and ‘settlement’. While context does influence outcome, these purposes were not exclusive of one another: In fact, the central question is more to do with finding an appropriate starting place for discussions. I concluded that mediation is first and foremost a party-led process and this is a key factor in defining its purpose in any context.

Author Biography: 

Dr Lesley Allport has a long career as a mediation practitioner spanning the last 32 years. Working initially as a family mediator in the 1980’s, she has been involved in developing new areas of practice such as special educational needs mediation and disability conciliation. She mediates conflicts within families, workplace disputes and education settings as well as having experience in community mediation and cross border child abduction cases. Lesley delivers foundation mediation training in several contexts and offers advanced training for supervisors and mediators working directly with children, both in the UK and abroad. She has a keen interest in developing professional standards. She served as vice chair of the College of Mediators and chaired the Professional Standards Committee from 2015 to 2018. Lesley’s academic interest in mediation began in 2005 with a European Masters’ Degree, as part of which she developed a model of supervision specific to mediation. In 2016 she successfully completed her PhD with the Birmingham Law School examining the comparative growth of mediation and investigating core aspects of mediation practice operating across all sectors.

Publication Date:  11 June 2021

Citation: Allport, L. . (2021). Purpose in practice: Exploring common ground across different mediation contexts. Mediation Theory and Practice6, 36–63.

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