Drawing on the fields of psychoanalysis and psychosocial studies, this article investigates the states of mind of both the parties in conflict and the mediators. It proposes that, when framed as a relational intersubjective encounter, mediation can have transformative potentials beyond the political goals. The article aims to rebalance the current rationalistic orientation in mediation and argues that valuing and engaging with the affective register in mediation processes and the states of mind of the mediation actors can better equip mediators to understand and deal with the unpredictability, instability, and blockages in mediation processes.

The article discusses the relevance for mediation of selected clinical and psychological concepts and proposes them as potential tools for mediators. It looks at the role of trauma, mentalization, shame, and group identity when considering the state of mind of parties in conflict and proposes countertransference, emotional attunement, and empathic mutual positioning as facilitative skills when reflecting on the role of the mediator. It discusses the need for mediators to reflect on their own story and investment in the process and urges practitioners to consider the toxic impact of mediation on the mediator’s well-being. The article concludes with recommendation for training and practice.



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