What is mediation?

Mediation is a facilitated process in which stakeholders discuss their concerns and issues and explore possible options for mutually satisfactory solutions to differences. The mediation process allows disputing parties a chance to equally discuss personal issues in an environment designed for maximum neutrality. Disputing parties progress through five stages in which a neutral mediator facilitates discussion. Mediation represents the opportunity for a win/win outcome in which disputants bargain and make sacrifices to reach an agreement. Adapted from Michelle Armster, MCC Conflict Transformation and Restorative Justice Manual, Foundations and Skills for Mediation and Facilitation, 2008.  

What are the stages of a mediation?


  • Ground rules are established.


  • Each party describes the situation from their viewpoint.
  • Both parties are given equal time to discuss their views and issues.

Identifying Issues

  • Mediator lists joint issues based on the issues framed by the offender and the victim.


  • Participants describe an issue and a related problem in further depth.

This helps:

  • Participants discover the interests under their positions, what matters most to them.
  • Encourages parties to generate options jointly.
  • Note commonalities whenever possible.
  • Encourage parties to examine and be open about their feelings.
  • Encourage constructive communication.
  • Parties focus on their future rather than being stuck on the past.
    • Most conflicts include both tangible issues and relationship issues. Problem solving allows for natural progression in dealing with these issues.

Agreement Stage

  • Offender and victim form an agreement based on the solutions they have come up with in regards to how they will deal with their problems. Agreement is detailed and specific about who does what, when and where.
    Adapted from Ron Kraybill, A Mediation Process: An Overview, MCC Conflict Transformation and Restorative Justice Manual, Foundations and Skills for Mediation and Facilitation, 2008.

What is the Peacemaking Circle Process?

Peacemaking circles provide a process for bringing people together as equals to talk about very difficult issues and painful experiences in an atmosphere of respect and concern for everyone. Peacemaking circles create a space in which all people, regardless of their role, can reach out to one another as equals.

Participants are seated in a circle of chairs with no tables. The physical format of the circle symbolizes shared leadership, equality, connection and inclusion. It also promotes focus, accountability and participation from all.

The circle process typically involves four stages:

  •  Acceptance The community and the immediately affected parties determine whether the circle process is appropriate for the situation.
  • Preparation Separate circles for various interests (family, social workers) are held to explore issues and concerns and prepare all parties to participate effectively. Thorough preparation is critical to the overall effectiveness of the circle process. Preparation includes identifying possible supporters in the natural network of the family to participate in the process.
  • Gathering All parties are brought together to express feelings and concerns and to develop mutually acceptable solutions to issues identified.
  • Follow-up Regular communication and check-ins are used to assess progress and adjust agreements as conditions change.

Circles are facilitated by keepers who are responsible for setting a tone of respect and hope that supports and honors every participant. All circles are guided by the following commitments participants make to one another:   Excerpted from: Establishing shared responsibility for child welfare through peacemaking circles by Kay Pranis and Barry Stuart in Family Group Conferences, edited by Burford and Hudson.