The role of mentor is uniquely suited to the development of professional values. As Mentor (and Athena disguised as Mentor) guided Telemachus’ development during Odysseus’ absence, the counseling mentor guides the development of the new counselor. Mentoring allows the supervisor to help supervisees envision themselves as professionals (Corey et al., 2010).
Whether you are operating as teacher, mentor, or supervisor (or any combination of the three), you have a responsibility to pass on the essential knowledge and skills of the profession to the next generation (Sommers-Flanagan & Sommers-Flanagan, 2007). The roles of teacher and supervisor have clear responsibilities (both legal and ethical) to guide this passing of knowledge and skills. As a mentor, you act in more informal settings and without specific guidelines. Or do you?
There are serious ethical concerns when knowledge is morally disconnected from its application (Sommers-Flanagan & Sommers-Flanagan, 2007, p. 317). Mentor did not just teach Telemachus—he guided him through the actions needed to resist his father’s enemies. The counseling mentor becomes an informal teacher, moving knowledge into action. This may be done in a number of informal activities such as presenting or writing together (Corey et al., 2010).
Briggs and Pehrsson (2009) strongly support the concept of research mentorship for pre-tenure faculty. This mentor has two functions: relational (role-modeling and developmental issues) and instructional (research development and career issues). Briggs and Pehrsson found that guidance in the promotion and tenure process was the type of help most often received from the mentor, followed by writing help and career advice. The lowest rate of mentor help was in research methodology, data analysis, and ethics (integrity). Certainly, the case can be made that the integrity issue should be the first in priority for the mentor.
The Roman goddess Vesta (Hestia if you are Greek) was the deity who presided over sacred wisdom and the hearth. In public life, she was the protectress of the state. She was symbolized by a flame (the flame or torch in many university emblems represent Hestia and her wisdom). As the keeper of the flame, she preserved the state and the institutions of society. As long as her flame endured, the state would survive. As you grow and develop as a supervisor (mentor), you become the keeper of the flame of counseling professionalism. As long as you help maintain the flame, the profession survives.
Bernard, J. M., & Goodyear, R. K. (2019). Fundamentals of clinical supervision (6th ed.). Pearson.
Briggs, C. A., & Pehrsson, D. E. (2009). Research mentorship in counselor education. Counselor Education and Supervision, 48(2), 101–113.
Corey, G., Haynes, R., Moulton, P., & Muratori, M. (2010). Clinical supervision in the helping professions: A practical guide (2nd ed.). American Counseling Association.
Sommers-Flanagan, R., & Sommers-Flanagan, J. (2007). Becoming an ethical helping professional: Cultural and philosophical foundations. Wiley.
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