The mentoring relationship, professional social workers mentoring university social work students

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Gavran, Claudia
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The purpose of the study was to explore the relationship experience of mentors and mentees who participated in a formalised mentorship program and to propose ecommendations for improvements to the program. A qualitative approach was under taken with components of grounded theory used as a guiding framework. By using elements of grounded theory, recurring themes could be identified and built upon to achieve saturation. The interviews showed that the experiences of the mentors and mentees involved in this study varied greatly and ranged from abject disappointment to a feeling of being part of a wonderful learning experience. Those who experienced disappointment cited the inability to connect with their counterpart as the primary reason for their negative experience while those whose experience was seen as positive indicated that exchanging ideas and learning about another's culture and ideas were the primary reasons for enjoying their participation in the mentoring relationship. How the development of the relationship was approached and prioritised by the participants and which party took responsibility for the initial development stage of the relationship had a direct effect on how the experience was perceived and experienced. Program recommendations include formal introductions arranged by the mentorship program co-ordinator at the onset; provision of detailed program information regarding the benefits for and expectations of program participants; mentee biographies to provide insight into the mentees needs and situation; provision of a neutral place to meet; and access to information from past mentors and mentees. This study attempts to extend the Canadian knowledge base.