Sunday, April 14, 2013

Self Mentoring?

From my first human services class as an undergraduate student, through graduate school, three internships, my first "real" job,  and my experiences as a clinician, my development as a professional has been entwined with my emotional and psychological growth as an individual.  I've often found that my professional experiences have been the impetus for self exploration; many times I needed to first grow and change as a person in order to become a better clinician.  In this way, my personal and professional growth have been and continue to be inseparable.  Would I be as self aware and emotionally healthy if I'd chosen some other line of work?  I doubt it.  Would I be as good of a clinician if I hadn't devoted so much time and energy to dealing with my own psychological and emotional baggage?  Definitely not. 

While my career as a clinician has been integral to my own development, one need not be a psychotherapist in order to achieve personal growth.  This is, in fact, the idea behind the field of self-help.  Anybody can improve as a person, become more self-aware, understand themselves better, relate to others more effectively, or become more "enlightened." 

I recently came across a relatively new (or new to me) method of self-help: self-mentoring.  I'm not particularly interested in debating the merits of various self-help techniques.  When I come across something new I tend to explore it a little.  If I'm especially intrigued I'll do more research.  Otherwise, I'll take from it anything that seems useful and go on about my life.

So, about self-mentoring.  The first major component of self-mentoring is self-discovery.  It requires a realistic and accurate assessment of you true self - both strengths and weaknesses. I can definitely support this, given my strong belief in the merits of self-awareness.  Suggested "self-mentoring" strategies for self-assessment include self-monitoring, self-reflection, seeking feedback from trusted others, consulting professional or expert sources (to include books, journals, videos, an actual psychotherapist, etc.), and/or completing any of an infinite number of personality assessment inventories (which can be quite helpful if you've never done one.  I personally recommend the Myers-Briggs.  If you Google Myers-Briggs personality assessment, you can probably find several free ones online).

A quick aside -- personally, I think it is  impossible for any person to ever completely know himself.  I therefore believe that self-assessment should be an ongoing and lifelong process.  Self-awareness promotes mindfulness and makes it easier to have meaningful relationships with others.

 Knowing yourself (to the degree this is possible) is of course meaningless if you make no attempt to use that knowledge.   This brings us to the second major component of self-mentoring: self-improvement, preferably in the form of concrete behavioral change.  In order to change, you must first have an idea of who you want to be.  (They call this your "ideal self").  

In my brief foray into the world of self-mentoring, it was this idea of an "ideal self" that made the strongest impression.  It's not that I've never heard of this concept before; I have.  It just made me realize that I haven't given much thought recently to who I want to be.  I reflect a lot on who I am and I definitely try to be the best version of myself as often as possible.  But who do I want to become?  I honestly don't know.  And so I suppose I need to give it some thought...


  1. Replies
    1. Greetings from North Carolina,

      I really loved reading your thoughts on Self-mentoring™ and what you perceived to be ‘strengths’ and/or ‘weaknesses’ of aspects of the concept. I will be honest - Self-mentoring™ grew out of an experience I endured when shifting from public education to a higher education faculty position when a formalized mentoring program fell short. Since the introduction of Self-mentoring™ through conferences and articles, it has developed some interest. It is not intended to replace mentoring programs, but is a practice of leadership sustainability. While most mentoring programs fail to sustain in the absence of a mentor, Self-mentoring™ has the propensity to ready individuals with skills to sustain their success after the program…again, we are just finalizing the first round of research projects with many more on the horizon, but I just loved reading your reaction…I will be referencing you in an upcoming article if you don’t mind!! Keep writing!!!!

      Marsha Carr/University of North Carolina Wilmington

    2. Wow, thanks Dr. Carr. I appreciate your feedback!


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