Developing a Successful Mentoring Relationship

Though the sequence and pace may vary, there are several stages which mentoring relationships typically go through including:

Stage 1:  Exploration

An initial assessment of the relationship is completed including: Learning more about each other; Confirming there is a match between the Mentee’s goals for the relationship and the Mentor’s ability to fulfill the role; Establishing a comfort level with each other; and Confirming that the personal and/or professional interests and goals for the relationship are compatible.

Stage 2:  Negotiation

Being clear about the parameters of the relationship is vital in order for the mentoring relationship to work. This includes:  Agreeing upon what each party wants from the relationship and modifying goals as needed; Learning what is important to both parties.

Establishing expectations; and Ensuring there is agreement on the parameters of the relationship.

Once the relationship is in full swing, one tip for success is that the Mentor and Mentee reevaluate their commitment to continue the relationship on a regular basis, preferably during the monthly check-in communication.

Stage 3:  Affirmation

Investment in the relationship begins in this phase. While the Mentor and Mentee continue to define and redefine the relationship, they will confirm the ability to uphold the responsibilities that have been agreed upon.

Stage 4:  Termination

This stage is reached when, by mutual consent, the relationship is complete for a variety of reasons. The Mentee may have reached his/her goals and objectives and the relationship parameters have been fulfilled. Or, the relationship may be discontinued based on the inability of either party to uphold the original parameters of the relationship. It should be noted that some participants will agree to continue the relationship in either the original Mentor/Mentee structure or as an evolving relationship, including friendship and/or as colleagues. There is no set time commitment for mentorship relationships, since they are defined by the Mentor and Mentee based on individual goals and objectives. It should be noted though, that it would be an ethical violation and a conflict of interest for the Mentor, who is a volunteer role model, to evolve into a paid Supervisor. Mentors must refer Mentees to other appropriate art therapy supervisors. Thank you for your interest in becoming an AATA Mentor. Mentors ensure that the next generation of art therapists has the support needed for success.