Poorly managed conflict in the family can lead to destructive consequences, such as increased aggression (McCoy, Cummings & Davies, 2009), and children's decreased ability to adjust to school (Sturge-Apple, Cummings & Davies, 2006). These outcomes have been observed across families of diverse races and ethnicities (Chung, Flook & Fuligni, 2009; Emery, 1982).
Mediation is one way to help families constructively manage conflict (Emery, 1982). Despite its benefits, 30-40% of family mediation clients complain about not feeling heard or understood (Pearson & Thoennes, 1984a). Mediators have also often failed to provide opportunities for clients to discuss relationship concerns (Donohue, Drake & Roberto, 1994), despite clients' desire to gain insight into their own and their ex-spouse's feelings (Pearson & Thoennes, 1989).
One form of mediation that holds promise to resolve family conflicts is transformative mediation (Bush & Pope, 2004). A distinctive feature of transformative mediation is that focusing on relationships is viewed as important (Folger & Bush, 1996). However, no published research on the application of transformative mediation to families currently exists (J. P. Folger, personal communication, October 19, 2010). This study compared a traditional transformative mediation model with an enhanced version of transformative mediation which incorporated exposure to Relationship Enhancement (as a way to improve participants' communication skills) and guidance in how to give and receive interpersonal feedback (as a way to improve participants' interpersonal learning).
Using a true experiment, pre-test post-test control group design, 32 families were randomly assigned to either a control group, and received traditional transformative mediation, or an experimental group and received enhanced transformative mediation. Sixty-six mostly Mexican-American, bilingual participants were involved in the study. Rates of agreement and levels of satisfaction with mediation were assessed. The Written Interaction Task was used to measure communication skills and the Therapeutic Factors Scale to measure interpersonal learning. The results showed that no significant differences existed in participants' expressive speaking skills, empathic listening skills, interpersonal learning, rates of agreement or satisfaction with mediation between the two groups. However, the entire sample's empathic listening and interpersonal learning significantly increased from pre- to post-mediation.
|School:||New Mexico State University|
|School Location:||United States -- New Mexico|
|Source:||DAI-B 72/05, Dissertation Abstracts International|
|Subjects:||Counseling Psychology, Individual & family studies, Alternative Dispute Resolution|
|Keywords:||Communication skills, Divorce/family mediation, Family conflict, Interpersonal learning, Relationship enhancement, Transformative mediation|
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