You are here

Mediation Theory and Practice

Mediation Theory and Practice

Third Edition

April 2018 | 272 pages | SAGE Publications, Inc

Mediation Theory and Practice, Third Edition introduces students to the process of mediation by using practical examples that show students how to better manage conflicts and resolve disputes. Authors Suzanne McCorkle and Melanie J. Reese help students to understand the research and theory that underlie mediation, as well as provide students with the foundational skills a mediator must possess in any context, including issue identification, setting the agenda for negotiation, problem solving, settlement, and closure.

New to the Third Edition:

  • Expanded content on the role of evaluative mediation reflects the latest changes to the alternative dispute resolution field, helping students to distinguish between various approaches to mediation.
  • Additional discussions around careers in conflict management familiarize students with employment opportunities for mediators, standards of professional conduct, and professional mediator competencies.
  • New activities and case studies throughout each chapter assist students in developing their mediation competency.

Instructors, sign in at for a Microsoft Word test bank, sample course syllabi with term projects, chapter exercises and activities, and more!

Available with Perusall—an eBook that makes it easier to prepare for class
Perusall is an award-winning eBook platform featuring social annotation tools that allow students and instructors to collaboratively mark up and discuss their SAGE textbook. Backed by research and supported by technological innovations developed at Harvard University, this process of learning through collaborative annotation keeps your students engaged and makes teaching easier and more effective. Learn more

List of Cases, Views, and Role-Play Scenarios
About the Authors
Chapter 1: Introduction to Mediation
Why Mediation?
Benefits for the Disputants

Benefits for the Mediator

How Do People Find Their Way to Mediation?

Family Mediation

Community Mediation

Victim–Offender Mediation

School-Based Peer Mediation

Organizational Mediation

Government and Court-Annexed Mediation

Power, Rights, and Interests

Resolving through Power

Resolving through Rights

Resolving through Interests

The Dispute Resolution Continuum





Informal Conflict Management

A Disclaimer about Mediation Training


Chapter Resources

Portfolio Assignment 1.1: Starting Your Mediator Portfolio

Portfolio Assignment 1.2: Personal Reflections

Chapter 2: The Basic Components of Mediation
Philosophical Assumptions

Facilitative Approach

Transformative Approach

Evaluative Approach

Comparing the Three Approaches

Functional Models

Integrating Philosophies

Variables That Make a Difference in Mediation Models

Premediation or No Premediation

Allow Uninterrupted Disputant First Statements or Control When and How Long Each Person Speaks

Allow, Require, or Forbid Private Meetings between the Mediator and the Parties

Require an Agenda before Negotiating, Negotiate as You Go, or Slide Back and Forth between Issue Identification and Negotiation

Consider the Parts of the Mediation as Functional Phases or as Chronological Steps

Focus on the Problem, Focus on the Emotions, or Balance Problems and Emotions

Prescribe Automatic First Moves within Phases or Allow Mediator Choice

Allowing or Prohibiting Parties to Speak to Each Other

Writing and Signing or Not Signing Agreements

Phases in the Balanced Mediation Model


Mediation Session


Does Culture Matter in Mediation?


Chapter Resources

Portfolio Assignment 2.1: Personal Reflections on Mediation Philosophy

Portfolio Assignment 2.2: Personal Reflections on Culture

Chapter 3: Essential Skills for Mediators
An Overview of Mediator Skills

Trusting and Controlling the Process

Trusting the Process

Controlling the Process

Listening: A Bedrock Skill for Mediators

Types of Listening

Variables That Affect Listening

Skills for Listening to Content, Emotion, and Relationship

Reframing Messages

Listening to Nonverbal Communication

Clarifying and Asking Questions

Open versus Closed Questions

Genuinely Curious Questions

Honoring Silence

Listening Interculturally

Ethical Issues and Listening


Chapter Resources

Portfolio Assignment 3.1: Emotional Paraphrases

Portfolio Assignment 3.2: The Open-Ended Question

Chapter 4: Premediation Activities
Contacting Disputants

Goals to Accomplish During Intake

Education Role

Information-Gathering Role

Assessment Role

Setting the Stage

Time and Timing




Chapter Resources

Portfolio Assignment 4.1: The Referral Sourcebook

Portfolio Assignment 4.2: Intake and Agreement to Mediate Forms

Chapter 5: Ethical Considerations and Tactical Preparations
Mediator Roles

Ethical Considerations in the Mediation Community

Ethical Considerations for Mediators

Neutrality and Impartiality

Reality Testing


Dual-Role Relationships


Informed Choice

Conclusions about Mediator Ethics

Disputant Roles

Analyzing Stakeholders

The Mediation Plan

Common Causes of Conflict

Conflict Causes and Mediator Moves

Cultural Awareness


Chapter Resources

Portfolio Assignment 5.1: Ethical Codes of Conduct

Portfolio Assignment 5.2: Mediator Supplies

Portfolio Assignment 5.3: Personal Reflections That Deepen Cultural Awareness

Chapter 6: The Mediator’s Opening Statement
Managing Arrivals and Seating

Opening Statement Functions

Opening Statement Styles

Monologue Style

Interactive Style

Opening Statement Dynamics



Key Components of the Opening Statement



Building Credibility

Establishing Stakeholders

Explaining the Nature and Scope of Mediation

Explaining the Mediator’s Role

Explaining the Caucus

Explaining Impartiality and Neutrality

Giving a Confidentiality Statement

Disclosing Notetaking Purposes

Establishing Ground Rules

Discuss Facilities

Discovering Time Constraints

Explaining the Role of Outside Experts

Securing the Commitment to Begin

Transitioning to Storytelling

Building Credibility and Rapport

The Relationship between Opening Statements and Mediator Control

Notetaking for Mediators


Chapter Resources

Portfolio Assignment 6.1: Creating Your Personal Opening Statement

Portfolio Assignment 6.2: Creating Your Personal Notetaking Form

Chapter 7: Storytelling and Issue Identification
Theories of Storytelling

Symbolic Interaction

Attribution Theory

Emotional Intelligence

Functions of Storytelling

The Individual

The Mediator

Mediator Strategies in Storytelling

One Storyteller at a Time

Co-Constructing Stories

General Inquiry Questions

Whole Picture Questions

The Naïve Detective

Specific Inquiry Questions

Establishing Agreed-Upon “Facts”

Weighing the Importance of Disagreements

Perspective Taking


Recognizing Turning Points

Overcoming Common Pitfalls during Storytelling

Pitfall 1: Unchecked Power Differences

Pitfall 2: Allowing Blaming and Attacking

Pitfall 3: Acting on Overstatements or Generalizations

Pitfall 4: Taking Sides

Pitfall 5: Permitting Interrupting and Bickering

Pitfall 6: Mismanaging Emotional Outbursts

Pitfall 7: Letting One Party Monopolize Time or Control the Process

Pitfall 8: Being Overwhelmed with Evidence

Conflict Causes and Mediator Moves


Chapter Resources

Portfolio Assignment 7.1: The Vision Quest

Portfolio Assignment 7.2: Reframes

Portfolio Assignment 7.3: Personal Reflection

Chapter 8: Setting the Agenda for Negotiation
Mediator’s Notes Are the Building Blocks of the Agenda

When to Shift to the Agenda Step

Components of the Agenda

The Commonality Statement

The Agenda List

Sequencing the Agenda List

Who Decides the Order of the Agenda?

Considerations When Choosing the Agenda Sequence

Adding an Issue for Continuing Relationships

Alternate Methods of Creating the Agenda

Framing the Agenda Neutrally and Mutually


Chapter Resources

Portfolio Assignment 8.1: Methods of Ordering the Agenda

Portfolio Assignment 8.2: Transitioning to the Agenda

Chapter 9: Problem Solving and Negotiation
The Two Worlds of Negotiation

Directiveness vs. Intrusiveness

Mediator Techniques to Foster Disputant Problem Solving

Starting the Negotiation

Techniques for Cooperative Negotiation

Techniques for Traditional Negotiation

Using the Caucus to Respond to Common Problems

Not Bargaining in Good Faith

Hidden Agendas

Reality Check

Lying or Withholding Information


Breaking Deadlocks

Analyze the Impasse

Techniques to Break through Impasse


Ending the Negotiation Phase

Mediator Ethics and the Negotiation Phase


Chapter Resources

Portfolio Assignment 9.1: Questions to Start Negotiation

Portfolio Assignment 9.2: Going into Caucus

Portfolio Assignment 9.3: Personal Reflections on Face

Chapter 10: Settlement and Closure
Why Write Agreements?

Is the Agreement Legally Binding or Legally Nonbinding?

A Format for Writing Mediation Agreements

Choosing the Phrasing of the Agreement

Agreements Use Direct Language

Agreements Are Clear

Agreements Generally Are Positive

Agreements Are Impartial

Agreements Are Concrete

Agreements Arise from the Parties’ Words

Creating Durable Agreements

Contingency Agreements

Future Communication Clauses

Reality Testing

Partial Agreements

Final Reading and Signing

Closing a Nonagreement Mediation

Debriefing the Session


Chapter Resources

Portfolio Assignment 10.1: Memorandum of Agreement Form

Chapter 11: The World of the Mediator
Variations on Basic Mediation



Extended Premediation

Mediation and the Internet

Mediation as a Profession

Employment Opportunities for Mediators

Cross-Training and Life Skills

Standards of Professional Conduct

Professional Mediator Competencies

Mediation Skills in Everyday Life


Chapter Resources

Portfolio Assignment 11.1: My Current Skill Level

Appendix A: Practice Cases
Appendix B: Mediator Skills Checklist


Instructor Site

Password-protected Instructor Resources include the following:

    • A Microsoft® Word test bank, is available containing multiple choice, true/false, and essay questions for each chapter. The test bank provides you with a diverse range of pre-written options as well as the opportunity for editing any question and/or inserting your own personalized questions to assess students’ progress and understanding.
    • Editable, chapter-specific Microsoft® PowerPoint® slides offer you complete flexibility in easily creating a multimedia presentation for your course.
    • Sample course syllabi with term projects for semester and quarter courses provide suggested models for use when creating the syllabi for your courses.
    • Lively and stimulating chapter exercises and activities that can be used in class to reinforce active learning. The activities apply to individual or group projects.
    • Chapter-specific discussion questions help launch classroom interaction by prompting students to engage with the material and by reinforcing important content.
    • A set of all the graphics from the text, including all of the maps, tables, and figures, in PowerPoint, .pdf, and .jpg formats for class presentations.
    • Additional Cases that can be used for extra practice outside of the classroom in order to support the skills and techniques taught in class
      Sample Mediation Forms assist with the set up of the mediation and help guide the mediator through the process of mediation

I have used this book as a course book for my mediation course for the past three terms and will still use it for the next term. I must say that I am extremely happy with the content of and structure of the book.
The book introduces students to the field of mediation from a theoretical and practical perspective. This is done in clear and simple language. I consider this book very suitable for teaching and introducing undergrads to the field of mediation.
Instructor resources are also very good and helpful. These resources have greatly aided me to teach this class more effectively and easily.
Many students also indicate in their feedback during course evaluation how much they have enjoyed the book.
The only thing I would have loved as part of the package is for the package to include video resources as well such as video links, YouTube videos, online video simulations etc. Overall, this is the best textbook on a general introduction to the field of mediation.

Dr Elvis Nshom Ngwayuh
Communication, California St Univ-San Marcos
April 15, 2021
Key features

New to the Third Edition:

  • Expanded content on the role of evaluative mediation reflects the latest changes to the alternative dispute resolution field, helping students to distinguish between various approaches to mediation.
  • Additional discussions around careers in conflict management familiarize students with employment opportunities for mediators, standards of professional conduct, and professional mediator competencies.
  • New activities and case studies throughout each chapter assist students in developing their mediation competency.
  • The Balanced Mediation Model is used throughout as the philosophical approach and integrating model.
  • Examples and case studies in every chapter illustrate key concepts and practices.
  • The benefits of mediation training in everyday life, as well as career opportunities for mediators, are covered in Chapter 11.
  • Chapter-ending discussion questions provide readers with opportunities to explore the intricacies of the theoretical discussions and to draw insights about the mediation process.
  • Full role-play practice cases are provided in an Appendix.

Sage College Publishing

You can purchase or sample this product on our Sage College Publishing site:

Go To College Site

This title is also available on SAGE Knowledge, the ultimate social sciences online library. If your library doesn’t have access, ask your librarian to start a trial.