Mediation is not a one-sized process that fits resolution of every type of dispute. There are a variety of mediation approaches that can be used, including facilitative, evaluative, transformative, collaborative, elicitative, and wisely directive. Every year seems to spawn a new book followed by a different approach to mediation.
The best mediators function to varying degrees as negotiation coaches for the participants, both attorneys and parties. They are able to employ multiple styles at different points during a mediation based on their assessment of what approach is most likely to move the participants toward resolution. The majority of mediators, however, lacking the skill, training, or experience, typically use one of four basic styles.