Complementary Therapy Mentoring
- Critically analyse the value of mentoring as an approach to professional development.
Defining the process of complementary therapy mentoring is challenging giving that terms like preceptor, coach, and teacher are increasingly being used to describe mentorship relationships (Sashkin and Sashkin, 2003). Some health writers write that mentorship is a career development relationship that is designed to improve the confidence of complementary therapists, and encouring life time learning among complementary therapists. Mentorship has always been an integral part of professional development in complementary therapists given that novices maintain both formal and informal mentorships in clinical settings. After graduating from complementary therapists schools, young complementary therapists tend to look up to their more experienced colleagues in the profession. Mentorship can be both formal and informal. Formal mentorship in complementary therapists refers to a structured mentorship programmes such as laid out principles that govern the way experienced complementary therapists supervise novice complementary therapists and students complementary therapists on intenship (Duffy, 2003). Informal mentorship on the other hand includes the different ways in which complementary therapists can mentor each other without following structured programmes. For examples, complementary therapists in clinical settings share their experiences and ask questions to each other. By so doing, they make themselves available for mentorship and learn through informal mentorships. Most often, younger complementary therapists approach their more experienced colleagues when it doubts and during such encounters, they learn from their experience (Phillips et al, 2000). Mentoring in complementary therapists occurs within the context of formal and informal knowledge sharing programmes that occur between complementary therapists in clinical settings.
Complementary therapy mentoring is part of the organisational culture in many clinical settings. Although complementary therapists have individual responsibilities in clinical settings, it is important to note that complementary therapists have a collective responsibility to care for patients in clinical settings (Bray and Nettleton, 2007). Consequently, it is important to note that that complementary therapists need to step in assist each other where necessary to carry out their duty of caring for patients. Although mentoring in complementary therapists is good because it helps complementary therapists to learn from their mentors, it is important to note that mentoring can also result in conflicts when it is not properly done (Robinson et al, 2012). Effective mentorship must be conducted in an atmosphere of mutual trust and respect. Although a novice therapist might be fresh from school with very little years of work experience, it is important to note that the more experience complementary therapists must mentor the novice with respect. For example, when the novice is in need of support, the more experienced complementary therapists should be ready to rush to their assistance and do politely. Unfortunately, critics of mentoring in complementary therapists believe that some experienced complementary therapists may look down on the novices and when this happens, it can have a demoralising effect on the younger complementary therapists (Complementary therapists and Midwifery Council, 2008). In order to prevent this from happening, clinical settings need to develop principles to govern mentorships and ensure that mentors encourage instead of descourage mentees.
Another major weakness of contemporary mentorship procedures includes the fact that it can be challenging for some mentors to assess the capabilities and weaknesses of newly registered complementary therapists. Mentoring should be reserved for specialist complementary therapists because not every good therapist can be a good mentor (Duffy, 2003). Some complementary therapists might be excellent in performing their clinical responsibilities but lack the required aptitude to be good mentors. Assessing the capability of newly registered complementary therapists and student complementary therapists can be a very chllenging task for some complementary therapists. Consequently, there is need for for training to become effective mentor given that generalised mentorship compromises the quality of mentorship received by students and newly registered complementary therapists (Phillips et al, 2000). Effective mentoring requires complementary therapists to have the right interpersonal skills because mentorship requires complementary therapists to interact with their colleagues in a different capacity (Bray and Nettleton, 2007).
Although mentorship has a number of weaknesses, it is important to note that it contributes to professional development of complementary therapists. Evidence based practices can be best learnt and understood in practical settings like hospitals. Mentors in clinical settings have the opportunity to guide newly registered complementary therapists through the transitional period from school to when they become experienced complementary therapists (Robinson et al, 2012). Even though critics have questioned the structure of mentorship programmes, it is important to note that mentoring will remain an integral part of complementary therapists. This is because even if there is change of practice and the introduction of specialist mentors, newly registered complementary therapistswill continue to look up to their more experienced colleagues for informal mentorship by asking questions and observing their practice.
2.) Critically reflect on your own role as a mentor.
This critical reflection is based on my mentoring experience as a complementary therapist at a multidiscipline therapy clinic. I was working with a team of three first year students, who were on work placement assignment whom the practice manager had asked me to mentor. One of my key weaknesses, which I identified, is that during my placement, I did not have the right experience on mentorship. This made it a very challenging experience for me because I was not well informed. This is consistent with Kolb’s (1984) reflective model which holds that model learning can be achieved through experience and reflective practice. Gibbs (1988) reflective mode states that through reflective practice, professionals and practitioners can identify their mistakes and develop action plans that will help them to better deal with similar situations in future practice. In retrospect, I have realized that I ought to have prepared for the role by researching on mentorship and discussing with other senior colleagues to better understand their experiences about mentorship. That notwithstanding, I have learnt a lot from this negative experience and in future, I will know what to expect and how to manage situations when I get an opportunity to provide mentorship to someone.
I chose to conduct the mentorship programme within Proctor’s model as I found it to be a simple and yet comprehensive approach. Proctor’s model (1988) suggests that supervision has three main functions that include the normative, formative and restorative functions. The formative component has to do with the development of skills and abilities, meanwhile the normative aspect refers to the quality control role of the supervisor and the restorative element has to do with other support roles offered by the supervisor. On the formative front, I shared some skills, which I had learnt in my past placement with the mentees. Although we had a senior supervisor, I also went round from time to time to supervise my mentees and ensure that they did the right thing at the right time. Whenever they were in doubts, they would approach me and ask questions which I would answer. Although the experience was awkward for me, given that I have rarely been a leader; I was surprised to find that my mentees appreciated by mentorship skills throughout the placement. Given that the goal of the placement was to mentor students with arrange of complementary therapy skills, I thought it wise to also implement a holistic approach to mentorship. Hawkins and Sohet’s (2012) ‘seven-eyed’ model provides a holistic approach to mentorship and can help mentors to identify the key problems faced by mentees and provide an objective approach to mentorship.
Egans Skilled Helper model (2002) uses a tripartite approach to manage coaching and counselling in mentorship relationship. This model helped me to coach my mentees because I used the three steps, which include exploring, challenging and helping mentees achieve what they needed to achieve. I used both verbal and non-verbal communication skills to relate with the mentees each time they needed help or when I needed to coach them on a particular task. In the challenging phase, I discussed with employees the alternative ways in which problems could be resolved and finally chose the right approach. When one of my mentees was dealing with a COPD patient, he was confused about how to initiate the therapeutic relations with the patient. I coached her on the role of interpersonal communication in complementary therapy. John Heron’s (2001) six-category intervention analysis offers a conceptual framework for understanding interpersonal relationships. After exploring Heron’s model, I quickly realised that I needed to remind my mentees of the importance of interpersonal skills in the provision of complementary therapy in clinical and non-clinical settings.
Connor and Pokora (2012) write that coaching and mentoring are learning relationships through which people to take charge of their personal development, to discover their potential and achieve their goals. Luft and Ingham’s (1955) Johari window model provides a graphical model to explain interpersonal awareness. This theory is used to help people better understand themselves and their environment.