For an article about the difference in perspective between mediation and litigation, see “Legal vs. Mediation Narratives and Why They Matter,” by Victoria Pynchon (published November 22, 2009), found at http://www.negotiationlawblog.com/2009/11/articles/conflict-resolution/legal-vs-mediation-narratives-and-why-they-matter/ Fundamentally, whereas the litigation perspective is “you vs. me”, the mediation perspective is one of “you and me (together) vs. a problem”. Rather than struggling against each other, as in litigation, parties to a mediation struggle together, collaboratively, to solve a problem. The mediator acts more or less like a midwife in this process, empowering and enabling the parties to work together to create solutions.
The mediation narrative is that conflict presents an opportunity for both parties to work together to address a problem. For example, in the case of the Three Little Pigs and the Big Bad Wolf, the mediator would not see the wolf as evil who must be killed. Instead, the mediator would see the wolf as being a party who had a need to eat. If the wolf can be persuaded and helped to find a way to eat without killing the pigs, then the whole problem goes away. The challenge of how the wolf can get food is a difficult one, but if the pigs can help the wolf find alternate ways of finding food, then they can all coexist. The job of the mediator is to help parties find positive ways of communicating and resolving conflict, hopefully in ways that provide the parties with what they need for wholeness, with as little damage to each other as possible.
For an article that may help you prepare for mediation see Seven Steps to Effective Mediation by Diana Santa Maria and Marc A. Gregg (republished by Wrightslaw, originally appeared in the June, 1997, issue of Journal of the Association of Trial Lawyers of America).
For information on becoming a mediator, link to podcast HERE