The role of the psychologist in conflict resolution

The role of the psychologist in conflict resolution

The application of the Law as a coercive exercise is not the only option. On some occasions it can be replaced by peaceful negotiations that allow an adjustment between individual needs and respect for the norm. What is the role of the psychologist in the conflict resolution?

The role of the psychologist in conflict resolution

People in conflict have different options to resolve it: avoid, negotiate, mediate, submit to a private third party, submit to the judicial authority or resort to violence.

Each of these options varies based on the formality or not of the process. Also, to its public or private character and to the greater or lesser power exerted by the parties on the result.

Avoidance as a way to address the conflict

At one extreme is avoidance, since, many times, people do not believe in the possibility of a change to improve or simply avoid it because they think the issue is not so important.

On this side the most private and informal options are represented, where the parties have a great role. Other options are followed that are incorporating formalism into the process, which give a greater intervention to the third party, subtracting it from the parties, and promote a public aeration of the conflicts, to conclude with the most drastic option, which is the use of violence to subdue the other.

Resort to the law as a conflict resolution strategy

Resorting to the law, hoping for objectivity and justice, is a public process where the parties have their lawyers, who they are responsible for arguing their respective proposals before an impartial third party, a judge.

The judge issues his decision, based on the legal background and regulations, and the result is based on the win / lose formula

Further, the decision of the third party is mandatory and enforceable, and the parties must accept such decision. It involves taking into account the following aspects: expenses, time and disagreement with the results.

Public or private expert

When we talk about the psychologist's performance as an expert, either from any of the Justice Administration teams, or from the private sphere, the context in which he acts is the aforementioned judicial procedure.

With which, he is in the capacity of expert tax. The expert report takes the form of an investigation aimed at clarifying the facts based on the truth, as in criminal proceedings, or to demonstrate the facts based on reason, in civil proceedings.

Another way to solve conflicts is resort to a private third party. This formula shares with the previous one the reduced power of the parties and the commitment of external decision factors, in addition to following the win / lose scheme.

The administrative resolution of a dispute tries to establish a certain balance between the needs of the organization and the individual.

The expert advisor

When we talk about arbitration, a third party is requested by the parties, who adopt the commitment to respect the arbitrator's decision If they do not reach an agreement. Here the psychologist can intervene as an expert, but not imposed, but as a connoisseur of the subject to be discussed and with the consent of the parties to report on the subject under study. This function is what is known as expert advisor.

The colaboration

Finally, there is another way to resolve conflicts whose basis is collaboration. Through it, the parties themselves make decisions, either by negotiating disagreements among themselves, or by using representatives.

Also, they can use a third party chosen by mutual agreement to help them in the negotiation process. The first of these formulas is negotiation. The parties try to resolve their differences directly between them.

Sometimes it is a difficult company, since intense emotions make communication difficult and lead to misperceptions that sharpen disagreements. Only if the emotional intensity of the parties is low, can they resolve their differences using rationality.

Here the psychologist can act as collaborating expert with the lawyer, and although it is a formula that gives more prominence to the parties, professionals continue to occupy the main place.

Mediation as a strategy for conflict resolution

The second formula is mediation, in which a third party chosen by mutual agreement listens to their positions, holds private meetings and leads to agreements. Mediation begins when the parties no longer believe that they can resolve the conflict themselves through negotiation.

Through mediation the parties resolve their own conflicts and make decisions that make them protagonists of the entire process

The different options for resolving conflicts indicate a different participation of those interested in their resolution. As this participation increases, the role of professionals decreases.

Roles of the psychologist in conflict resolution

If we look at the roles exercised by the psychologist, we can see that his performance is modified. That is, its intervention is decreasing based on the increase experienced by the parties, in terms of their participation.

When we talk about expert role or of expert advisor, the objective of the evaluation is directed not to the people evaluated, but to support the third party, who will judge your case, or the lawyer of a party, who tries to obtain elements that justify his arguments.

The work of collaborating psychologist acquires a certain difference from the previous ones. He combines his knowledge with those of the lawyer and collaborates in the analysis of the situation conflicting Similarly, in the search for possible alternatives, and their effects on all those involved and in the choice of the one that is most viable.

His role is less evaluative, since he exchanges his knowledge with those of the interested parties, while they acquire a more relevant role. The ultimate reason for this action is addressed directly to the parties (or one of them) in conflict with the objective of preparing them to face judicial proceedings and that these affect them as little as possible.

Mediation and conflict resolution: by way of conclusion

Finally, the role of mediator distances itself from the previous ones, since its performance is oriented to promote the participation of those involved in its resolution, and is put at the service of the parties involved to manage to prepare a favorable ground in which negotiations take place, improving communication between them and changing the way of seeing the conflict.

Its objective is to help the interested parties so that they find a way out of the conflict situation., making the parties the true protagonists of the process. Thus, they receive the necessary information, clarify their positions, know their interests and those of the other, propose different alternatives and agree on acceptable solutions for both parties.

Therefore, under the banner of mediation we obtain greater satisfaction, by involving the parties in the common search for the solution. Finally, say that unlike the processes win / lose, The mediation scheme is win / win. Without a doubt, it is one of the best techniques for resolving conflicts (if not the best we have).


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