Mediation, as used in law, is a form of alternative dispute resolution (ADR), a way of resolving disputes between two or more parties with concrete effects. It is a voluntary, multi-faceted, and confidential process in which a mutually-selected, impartial mediator helps people involved in controversies to reach an outcome of their own making, which may include the resolution of issues and the preservation of vital relationships. Mediation is known to have the broadest application and the greatest potential for resolving disputes and reconciling conflicts.
Disputants may mediate disputes in a variety of domains, such as commercial, legal, institutional, governmental, workplace, community and family matters.
The term "mediation" broadly refers to any instance in which a third party helps others reach agreement. More specifically, mediation has a structure, timetable and dynamics that "ordinary" negotiation lacks. The process is private and confidential, and mediated settlement agreements are generally enforceable by law. Participation is typically voluntary.
The mediator acts as a neutral third party and facilitates rather than directs the process. Mediation offers participants an informal, economical and efficient way to effectively address the substance of their controversy while maintaining their ability to control both process and outcome.
Mediators use various techniques to open, or improve, dialogue between disputants, aiming to help the parties reach an agreement. Much depends on the mediator's skill and training. As the practice gained popularity, various training programs and certifications/credentialing of private organizations followed, producing trained, professional mediators committed to the discipline.
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