The transformative approach to the conflict is essentially based on the vision of the same as a “crisis in the relationship between the parties involved” (either individuals, or groups and organizations). This generally, on one hand generates a stressing pressure in those who experience it; on the other hand, it triggers defensiveness. One need to work on these components before even think to handle any differences in a rational way, and with the aim of finding useful solutions. From a practical point of view, it means to migrate from a state of stress (with all consequent uncertainties and relevant sense of vulnerability) to a greater self-control; and from a defensive and closed stance to a more openness. These two factors influence each other.
This process might be certainly undertaken on his own by anyone caught in a conflict situation; however, often the help of an external subject may be of help. For this reason, the practical application of transformative theory has firstly be implemented in the field of mediation (where, in fact, a third party ‘mediator’ helps the parties in conflict, and can support them in the transition process). The main reference text is The Promise of Mediation, a book written in 1994 (and consistently revised in 2005) of two scholars, prof. Robert Baruch Bush from the Faculty of Law at Hofstra University in New York and prof. Joseph P. Folger of the Department of Psychology at Temple University in Philadelphia.
Recently we’ve come to consider possible approach tested in a number of mediation situations: it was thus launched a project for the autonomous management of the conflict, with particular application to the assumptions of negotiations.
Since years now, the think-tank transformative approach is the ISCT (Institute for the Study of Conflict Transformation) based in Dayton, Ohio. The ISCT website (www.transformativemediation.org) contains a significant amount of useful information.
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