The effectiveness of mediation, an evaluation of formal intervention in family conflict

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Morin, Mavis Lynn
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Conflict is an inevitable part of family life throughout its entire cycle and therefore families must develop several different strategies of conflict resolution. Adolescence is a period of the family life cycle that is commonly characterized by parent-adolescent conflict. The strategies used to resolve this conflict are often divided into constructive versus destructive resolution strategies. When a family frequently relies on destructive conflict resolution strategies, conflict may escalate to the degree that the family must seek a third party intervention such as mediation. The proponents of mediation claim it is more than an intervention that attempts to resolve a specific conflict issue. They suggest that it is a generalizable process that may increase communication, stability and overall family life satisfaction. There has been a lack of empirical research to test these propositions. The present study evaluated the Parent-teen Mediation Program of Child and Family Services of Winnipeg. Participants completed pre- and post-tests of the Family Environment Scale and the Conflict Behavior Questionnaire. The results of the present study found that adolescents reported a decrease in conflict intensity and parents reported an increase in expressiveness. It was also suggested that parents sometimes appraised their adolescents as responsible for negative conflict within the family. Although the present study did not empir cally demonstrate that mediation achieved all of the goals described in the present study, it did show that mediation seemed to influence a positive change in the family environment.