Transcend conflict with restorative practices  

Conflict Intervention and Restorative Practices

Restorative practices as a conflict intervention approach are modeled after restorative justice, which is an alternative dispute resolution model that focuses on the needs of the individuals who have been harmed by someone else’s actions, as well as the needs of the community of people who were directly or indirectly harmed. Restorative justice differs from more punitive approaches to dispute resolution where the main objective is to punish the offending party, seeking instead to involve the offending party in repairing the harm his or her actions caused and restoring as much normalcy as possible to the harmed party. To accomplish this, the harmed party takes an active role in the process, while the person who caused the harm is encouraged to take responsibility for his or her actions — to repair the harm. Restorative practices can be implemented in a variety of setting including criminal justice, corporations, communities, religions organizations and nonprofits, and in families experiencing conflict. The following are two conflict interventions frequently implemented in a restorative process.

Peace-building Circles: Peacemaking circles, or dialogue circles, provide an opportunity for groups to exchange stories and build common ground. These shared explorations often enable groups to identify and explore creative solutions to their conflicts as well as develop and nurture strong bonds in both personal and professional relationships. Peacemaking circles are ideal for creating a space that fosters collaboration in healing and/or decision-making. There are several types of peacemaking circles, each designed to meet a specific need.

  • Talking circles bring people in the workplace together to dialogue about a particular issue in which they all have a shared stake. Some examples include responses to a new policy, responses to changes in the organization, etc.

  • Conflict circles are designed to address difficulties in a relationship and include the parties who are affected by the relationship as well as the conflict. The goal is to address the root cause of the conflict. 

  • Support circles offer encouragement to an individual who is experiencing a transition. 

  • Healing circles provides opportunities for those who have been harmed to tell their stories of trauma or loss and for others to offer empathy and emotional support. 

  • Organizational circles are opportunities for organizations to organize brain-storming sessions, strategic planning, as well as management supervision.