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Types of Alternative Dispute Resolution

Mediation and Arbitration may be among the best known ADR practices, but there are many others. 

Most involve bringing in an independent third party to oversee a negotiation and resolution between the people involved. But each is a unique process designed to be used for different purposes and in different types of situations. Some common ADR services are explained below.

ADR Systems Design

ADR Systems Design (also known as Integrated/Informal Conflict Management Systems or ICMS) analyzes an organization's needs and sets up systems to manage potential conflict using ADR processes. ADR Systems Designers work with management, in-house counsel, human resources, management, employees, and customers to build effective resolution processes for any area of the business, including creating plans to prevent conflict in situations when problems are likely to emerge.


Arbitration involves adjudication by a neutral third-party. Often people are brought to arbitration by the terms of a contract that names arbitration as the process to resolve disputes. Unless otherwise agreed, in our province, the terms of the Alberta Arbitration Act govern the process. 

An arbitrator decides the outcome of a dispute based on evidence and law. Arbitration is usually binding, and the outcome can be enforced like a court order. 

An arbitration clause can be added to a contract to describe the process to use in case of a dispute. The ADR Institute of Canada's Arbitration Rules offer clear procedures to conduct an arbitration and examples of clauses to add to contracts.

Conflict Management Coaching

Conflict management coaching, or conflict coaching, is a one-on-one process in which a trained coach helps an individual improve their communication and conflict management skills. The focus is on helping clients reach their conflict management goals which may include: working through their own interpersonal disputes, preparing to participate in an ADR process such as mediation, or improving communication skills to help them in their professional or leadership role.

Consensus Decision Making

Consensus Decision Making is a way of reaching agreement between all members of a group. Instead of simply voting for an item and having majority rule, a group commits to finding solutions that everyone actively supports, or at least can live with. Facilitators are responsible for moving through the agenda on time, ensuring the group adheres to the mutually agreed-upon consensus process, and, if necessary, suggesting alternate or additional discussion or decision-making techniques, such as go-arounds, break-out groups or role-playing.


Mediation uses an impartial facilitator or co-facilitators to assist two or more people to resolve a dispute in a way that meets the needs of everyone involved. The mediator does not make decisions or come up with solutions for the participants - the outcome remains in the hands of the parties.

Mediation is usually voluntary and confidential. The parties can make an agreement and carry it out in good faith, or hire a lawyer to make it legally binding. Parties in mediation may seek independent legal advice, and are encouraged to do so to understand their rights and obligations in situations involving the law.


When two or more people get together to work something out, they are taking part in the most common form of ADR, negotiation. Sometimes, the parties choose representatives to act on their behalf, and one option is a to hire a negotiator. There are different styles of negotiation, from adversarial to collaborative. In ADRIA's negotiation training, we teach Information- or Interest-Based Negotiation, which focusses on identifying the needs of the parties involved and finding a solution that is mutually beneficial.

Parenting Coordination

A Registered Parenting Coordinator and Arbitrator (RPCA) works with separated or divorced parents to establish cooperative co-parenting plans. An RPCA's role involves everything from education and consultation, to dispute resolution, to offering professional advice and recommendations in the best interest of the children involved. The RPCA also has decision-making authority which is binding. For more information, visit the Alberta Family Mediation Society website. 

Restorative Justice

Restorative Justice focuses on repairing harm when wrongdoing or injustice occurs in a community. There are a number of Restorative Justice processes, including: Victim-Offender Mediation, Community Conferencing, Peace Making Circles, Healing Circles, Sentencing Circles, and Circles of Support and Accountability. Restorative Justice involves those affected by the harm done, and can include the victim, the offender, social or justice agencies, and/or family and community members.

Restorative Practices

Restorative practices are based on the philosophy of Restorative Justice, but instead of reacting to harm, the focus is on building relationships and a sense of community to prevent conflict and wrongdoing. Restorative practices can be formal or informal, and involve a range of techniques and processes.

Workplace Assessment

A workplace assessment is an investigation to assess a complaint or the conflict dynamics in a workplace. The assessor examines the circumstances of the situation and recommends ways to address the problem and to prevent conflict from escalating.

Your source for ADR information and expertise.
Alberta's association of mediators and arbitrators. 

Our main office is located in Edmonton:

#225, Tower 1
3697 Mill Woods Road NW 
Edmonton, AB T6K 3L6

Contact Us:

Toll Free: 1-800-232-7214
Edmonton area: (780) 433-4881
Fax: (780) 433-9024

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