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What is Mentoring?

Updated: Feb 6, 2023

Mentoring is when an individual is facilitated in their self-discovery and progression with their ideas, learning, personal and professional development. (Oxley et al 2005, Houghton 2005; RCSLT CPD Toolkit 2017)

This might look like listening to someone share their experiences in a field, learning different perspectives… It's slightly different from supervision and coaching, where the focus may be more on clinical problem solving or solution focused reflection.

What does mentoring involve?

Usually, mentoring involves the mentor and mentee meeting regularly to discuss topics and/or specific questions that they may have about their career or learning journey. These topics are usually determined by the mentee, and the mentor will facilitate the thinking process.

According to Shea (2001), there are 7 types of assistance that mentors can provide to encourage development:

1. Help mentee shift context & envision a positive future and/or outcome

2. Listen & be a sounding board when mentee has a problem

3. Pick up on underlying feelings related to mentee's issues/ problems

4. Confront and challenge when appropriate

5. Offer relevant information or possible solutions

6. Encourage exploration of options

7. Bolster the mentee's confidence by delegating authority and providing opportunities

What do you think about this? What has been helpful/ unhelpful throughout your journey in speech therapy? We would love to hear your thoughts and experience with mentoring!

I am just starting my career as a student SLT, can I mentor someone?

Competencies in mentoring may evolve through the different phases of the mentor-mentee relationship. Have you started assisting your peers or colleagues one way or another as described above? If so, you probably already have some skills that make you a good mentor.

Some mentees find it harder to relate to therapists who may be further along on their journey. What this means is, even though you may feel that you don't have enough knowledge or experience, you are still that bit more experienced with someone who are at an earlier part of their journey. You will have learnt something on your current journey that others may be able to learn from. So the answer is a definite yes!

I am further along on my career path, how does mentoring relate to me?

A common theme among therapists I have spoken to is that, from time to time, everyone can feel a bit lost and wants some guidance . Ranging from NQT to band 7 or 8s! Our profession is ever evolving, and we encounter different challenges, or our goals for our personal and professional development evolves. Looking at the above 7 types of mentoring assistance as seen above, we can provide mentoring assistance or receive guidance no matter where we are on our professional journey.

When mentors and mentees share their knowledge and experiences in a safe environment, it enables both parties to explore and inspire new ways of thinking. Not to mention you will also be meeting HCPC standards when you engage in mentoring, as it is seen as a part of a CPD activity! (RCSLT CPD Toolkit 2017)

Further reading if you're interested:

  1. RCSLT CPD Toolkit (2017) Van der Gaag, A (2017) Continuing Professional Development: A Toolkit for Speech and Language Therapists and Assistants. RCSLT.

  2. Mary Heritage's article about mentoring from the BulletIn (Summer 2021, Issue 827) Heritage, M (Summer 2021) A Mutually Beneficial Relationship. RCSLT Bulletin. Issue 827. 50-51.

  3. Sage Handbook of Mentoring - for mentoring theory, research and practice across the world Clutterbuck, D. A., Kochan, F. K., Lunsford, L., Domínguez, N., & Haddock-Millar, J. (Eds.). (2017). The SAGE handbook of mentoring. Sage.


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