Learning From Others
Oprah Winfrey once said “a mentor is someone who allows you to see the hope inside yourself...I think mentors are important and I don't think anybody makes it in the world without some form of mentorship." In a diverse field such as psychology, students can benefit a mentoring relationship: the mentor can help the student figure out what she wants career-wise, as well as support the student through her journey in graduate school. A mentor for a psychology graduate student can help with developing the student's professional identity, social network and coping strategies to help with the stresses of school.
In the American Psychological Association (APA)'s graduate school magazine, gradPsych, author Carol Williams-Nickelson states that “a mentor is a person in an individual's chosen profession who is actively working to integrate that new person into a developmentally appropriate professional role...Mentoring changes over time and includes the intentional process of nurturing, support, protection, guidance, instruction and challenge within mutually agreed upon and ethical parameters that include the integration of personal and professional aspects of an individual's life."
The APA defines four stages in mentoring: the initiation stage, the cultivation stage, the separation stage and the redefinition stage. In the initiation stage, the mentor and the mentee begin their relationship, and the mentee starts to learn from her mentor in the cultivation stage. When the mentee and mentor enter the separation stage, it is the end of the mentoring relationship, which may be because there is nothing else for the mentee to learn from the mentor or the mentor may think it is time for the mentee to go off on her own. This stage may become stressful if the mentee or mentor is not ready to end the relationship. With the last stage of mentoring, the mentor and mentee redefine their relationship other than a mentoring relationship — “if both parties successfully negotiate through the separation stage, the relationship can evolve into a collegial relationship or social relationship," according to the APA.