Purpose of the Mentor Program
The purpose of the Mentor Program is to provide a link between a Mentor, who is an established member of the profession, with a graduating social work student, a recent graduate, a social worker re-entering the field or one new to the area. The program is open to all GWSCSW Members no matter what area of concentration or special interest he or she has in the field of social work.
The Mentee is assigned to an individual Mentor upon receipt of the application. Additional services offered are support groups and other workshops. Mentoring might be a one-time meeting or an ongoing relationship. Contact may be by phone or email, but face-to-face meetings are encouraged, when possible.
Recent MSW graduates and social workers resuming practice, new to the Washington Metro area or contemplating changing an area of clinical focus after years of practice may want to talk with a Mentor.
These are some of the common issues a new or returning social worker might like assistance with as a Mentee:
The Mentoring Program (directed through the Professional Development Committee) also recruits anyone interested in becoming a Mentor: experienced clinical social workers willing to help someone consider his/her goals and act as a sounding board, providing guidance and advice. You can determine the extent of your own time commitment.
In considering whether to volunteer to act as a mentor to a newer social worker, please be certain that you have sufficient availability to meet with a mentee at least four times, although depending on the mentee’s needs, the duration of your contact may be less or more extended. Completing all the information on the application form is essential, in order for the Mentor Program coordinator to pair you with a mentee whose needs fit the expertise and experience you have to offer. Your information will be kept in the Mentor Program file to be considered when potential mentee applications are received. The program coordinator will contact you when there is a potential mentee whose needs match your qualifications and provide information that you can use to get in touch with him or her. Since the mentees are often new to the profession and/ or area and may be hesitant in expressing themselves, mentors are encouraged to assist the individual in defining the relationship and the needs connected to the request for a mentor. Remember that the relationship with a mentee is not equivalent to clinical supervision, but rather to address concerns such as developing a professional identity, obtaining adequate licensing/supervision, determining career directions, addressing employment concerns, selecting appropriate continuing education and starting a private practice. Prior contacting the mentee, the mentor may want to be prepared to discuss defining the objectives with the mentee, as well as determining the meeting place, meeting time, frequency of contact, and preferred method(s) of contact. If at any point in the process, the mentor has questions or concerns related to the suitability or effectiveness of the relationship with the mentee, the Mentor Program coordinator can be contacted to provide assistance.
Once your application has been submitted, the Mentor Program coordinator will begin the process of identifying an appropriate individual from our mentor panel. The matching process may take three to four weeks as every effort is made to make pairings where areas of practice expertise, as well as the location of the mentor and mentee are compatible. The mentor is given the contact information for the mentee and will initiate the first communication. In preparation for this first contact, the mentee may want to consider the objectives in seeking a mentor, as well the time period, form, frequency and length of the contact desired. These issues can be discussed during the initial contact, as well as during the first meeting, as a way of defining and clarifying the relationship, which can be revised as needed over time. None of these issues are predetermined by the program, so as to let the mentee and mentor develop a way of working together that benefits the mentee. The only caveat is that the mentor/mentee relationship is not supervisory in nature, but rather a collaboration that supports the mentee in resolving professional concerns such as developing a professional identity, obtaining adequate licensing/supervision, determining career directions, addressing employment concerns, selecting appropriate continuing education and starting a private practice. Once the mentee has had an opportunity to meet with the mentor, the mentee should contact the Mentor Program coordinator to provide feedback as to whether the arrangement is satisfactory. In addition, if the mentee has questions, does not receive a response to the application form within the specified time period, and/or is dissatisfied with the recommended mentor, the coordinator can be contacted at any time during the course of the relationship.