Personal experiences of mentoring among doctoral students in counselor education

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Virginia Tech


The call for mentorship in the counseling profession has recently become more prominent even though a comprehensive understanding of mentoring practices remains obscure. Researchers postulated that mentoring enhances students" professional development. Yet the frequency to which mentoring occurs and thus influences development is unknown due to the lack of empirical data. The purpose of this study was to examine mentorship, at the doctoral-level, in counselor education programs by identifying the following areas of mentoring: (a) structural components, (b) potential impact, and (c) important aspects. Personal experiences of 66 participants (sample of convenience) who were mentored as doctoral students were utilized.

The quantitative and qualitative results of this study were obtained through the utilization of the General Mentoring Questions, Mentoring Function Scale, and a short answer (one-shot) question. Participants, representing 28 CACREP accredited programs, identified aspects in the psychosocial and career domains of mentoring. Statistically significant differences (p<.05) in the psychosocial domain (M = 4.30) indicated that more intense mentoring occurred when compared to the career domain (M = 3.97). Statistically significant differences were not found across variables of age, gender, and race.

Participants qualitatively based responses to the most important aspect of their mentoring experiences assumed a more psychosocial orientation even when career-related functions were addressed. They were often encouraged, supported, respected, and protected while developing and/or enhancing teaching, research, service, and/or counseling based skills. Sentiments regarding the impact of the mentoring experiences on self-growth, self-confidence, and personal change were also expressed. Essentially, the participants" mentoring experiences seemed to reflect the counseling principles of relationship development and promotion of well-being and empowerment as well as adherence to professional ethics.

It is important to note that these results, which provide a small glimpse to mentoring, cannot be generalized. Implications, however, can be drawn. Mentorship could potentially impact retention and graduation rates and promote professional continuity and identity. Obtaining a richer comprehension of mentorship is required and will most likely enable the profession to maximize practices in an effective and ethical manner, address acclimation, and ensure its longevity.



mentoring, doctoral students, counselor education