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Mentoring for practitioners? 

2014

Hello Everyone,

A number of us have been discussing 'mentoring' for practitioners in our field: How it is defined? How does it come about? How is it the same or different than supervision? etc., etc.

So, we would be interested in hearing other people's ideas about mentoring, in terms of the above questions and any other thoughts you might have, as either a mentor or mentee (if that is even the right word).

Thom Garfat
...


Thinking of mentors I've had, I did not realize they were mentors until later or when the relationship shifted in some way. Some were supervisors who cared and had influence beyond their role as a supervisor.

Some personal characteristics they had in common were caring, speaking truth, and knowing when to be present and when to withdraw (for example in giving freedom to try things on my own).

Some common characteristics of the relationship include that they have been informal or organic, included a sense of mutuality (for example learning from each other), and concern for the whole person beyond a specific role or position.

Looking forward to the other responses!

James Freeman
California USA


Hi Thom,

I think supervision contains a element of mentoring, although not all mentors are necessarily supervisors.

COMENSA (Coaches and Mentors South Africa) define mentoring as “"a partnership in which a mentee is assisted in making significant advances in knowledge, perspective and vision in order to develop their full potential; the mentor's wisdom is utilised by the mentee to facilitate and enhance new learning and insight." The mentor's focus is the development of the learner, and about passing on personalised, domain-specific knowledge. Mentors help to set the agenda, their primary aim to develop an individual or small group to learn more comprehensively from their day-to-day working experience”.

This for me is much like the “on-line” supervision, where the main purpose is to teach the mentee specific skills, the “how to” of the profession. Supervision is broader than this I think, containing aspects of administration, education and support as well.

I think it is a very underestimated part of practice, and very valuable to new practitioners – or experienced practitioners who want to “break through” to a new level of practice.

Just my thoughts for now.

Regards,
Werner van der Westhuizen
South Africa


Hi Thom,

Within my work place supervision is more a tool to evaluate progress, whereas mentoring would be the day-to-day guidance. Almost learning the practical and ICT aspects of care sector. I have previously been a mentor and it came about through my supervision as a means to boost my confidence within a more senior role within the unit.

I initially struggled with this as I was never formally given a mentor when I first started at 19 years old, instead told to ask a lot of questions, which I found helped. Thankfully I worked with a lot of patient workers who took the time to explain what different reports were, what case work was and the general day-to-day tricks and tips of the trade. I also was exposed to different shifts early on which allowed me to appreciate the different types of approaches required for different peer groups. I tried to encapsulate this when I became a mentor, and my "mentee", who was on a training program at the end got a job, so I guess I didn't do too bad a job.

Christopher Jobson.
...

Hi Thom,

Iit is an excellent question. I think a mentor should be someone who has the ability to provide guidance and substance for the person they are mentoring to consistently do critical thinking about things that emerge in their practice and careers. I think the mentoring role should include a genuine concern for the person on a personal level, as well as accepting that the mentor can, and even should expect, to be regularly learning from the mentee as the relationship moves along. A mentoring role can be part of the supervisory relationship but many times the inherent hierarchy of that relationship can cloud the mentoring process. I believe the best mentoring situations requite some distance to be objective enough. Mentors should also be very aware of the role modeling component of mentorship.

Frank Delano,
New York, USA
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