For this essay you will focus on one particular aspect of work that made the most impact on you. You will connect this particular aspect of work to the psychological theories that you have covered in your previous modules. Critically discuss the practicality and applicability of this specific aspect of psychology in the work place. Critically analyse the relevance of this aspect of psychology in the real world and whether it is a successful area to work in
The term mentoring as defined by the Cambridge dictionary (2018) is “the activity of supporting and advising someone with less experience to help them develop in their work” and a mentor “is person with experience in a job who supports and advises someone with less experience to help them develop in their work” (Cambridge dictionary, 2018). The word Mentor is found in the Homer’s Odyssey. In Homers Odyssey Mentor was the son of Alcimus. Mentor helped in the educating and care of Telemachus son of Odysseus while Odysseus fought in the Trojan war. Interestingly Athena the goddess of wisdom would take the form of Mentor to aid in the process of guiding and tutoring Telemachus (Colley, 2000). From Homers Odyssey the foundation upon which the modern role of mentoring was defined in the offering a supportive relationship where by one individual helps another to set and achieve goal (Cambridge dictionary, 2018), (ABF, 2018), (Colley,2000).
The topic of this essay is based on the experience of mentoring offered as part of the BYW project by the charity Advance Brighter Future, Wrexham. The key focuses of the BYW project is to the enabling of engagement, transition and empowerment. The people that BYW support are from those within the Wrexham area who have secondary mental health. Referrals come from: Heddfan Unit, Coed Celyn, Home Team, Recovery Team and Community Mental Health Team. The support offered to individuals is to aid the transition back into the community and social interaction via groups that are run by ABF or from other community-based activities. Peer mentoring is just one part of the BYW project in which it offers a way forward into reengagement with society (ABF, 2018). The mentors must undertake an accredited level 2 course with the independent voluntary adult education movement, Adult learning Wales.
The peer mentor is given an understanding of what is to be expected of them as a mentor and the boundaries within which they must work. As the relationship is time limited to 6 weeks, expectations must be kept realistic as to the goal setting. Having a time limit gives a clear ending which discourages reliance on the mentor as a permanent social support which would not be enabling resilience and autonomy in the mentee which is the key focus of BYW (ABF, 2018).
The psychological perspective of mentoring has many facets there is the Social psychology aspect which has examined the motivations of helping. For instance, looking at mentoring from the Pro-social behaviour perspective. Pro-social behaviour which is perceived as having three levels of analysis, the “meso” level, the micro level and the macro level. It is the Meso level, which is the helper-recipient dyads that mentoring falls within, being that it is an interpersonal relationship that offers aid from one individual to another (Penner, Dovidio. Piliavin & Schroeder 2005). Batson (2011) specified one source for altruistic motivation as being empathic concern. Adding to the work of other social psychologists forming understanding into why individuals respond in a helping way to others, The Empathy-altruism Hypothesis. Empathy-altruism hypothesis sees the act of helping as an emotional response of feeling compassion, sympathy, and empathy resulting in a sensitivity to another’s needs without seeking personal reward (Fultz, Batson, Fortenbach, Mccarthy, & Varney, 1986). The need to support another individual in gaining a positive forward progression in maintaining and attaining their personal welfare as an altruistic motiveless act has been questioned.
The Humanism /phenomenological theory explains behaviour as being a reinforced stimulated response. Within the Humanism /phenomenological theory existential assumptions are made that people have the capacity of free will, referred to as Personal agency. It places the individual as being essentially good with an innate prerequisite to better themselves and their environment. Maslow’s concept of the basic needs of the individual, seen as a pyramid with five levels. It is at level 3 that Maslow places the need for “Love and belongingness”, these needs can be found in interpersonal relationships, within friendships, and where there is intimacy, trust, and acceptance (Maslow, 1943) Interpersonal relationships, intimacy, trust, and acceptance are offered in the mentoring pairing of two individuals. Carl Rogers’ person centred approach falls into the humanistic family of theoretical approaches. He believed that for change to occur that there needed to be congruence, unconditional positive regard and empathetic understanding. These he called the core conditions (Rogers, 2004). The core conditions are at the basis of the peer mentoring relationship. That the mentor has empathy for others, that have or are going through similar experiences as they themselves have experienced, offers commonalities that form a foundation from which the relationship can grow. The relationship works in engaging and enabling the mentee to their goal attainment, into forming higher levels of resilience and autonomy through the positive interactions that working in a peer-based relationship has fostered. Peer mentoring is seen as a positive, enhancing way to get individuals into living a more fulfilling life, gaining life satisfaction and engaging socially within their community and reintegration into a positive balanced life style. Mental ill health is an isolating experience and reengagement can be an overwhelming and daunting prospect, having someone who they can identify with, of having shared similar experience of illness, and the steps to recovery as well as the experiences having engaged with service use (Davidson, Bellamy, Guy, &Miller, 2013).
Carl Rogers’ non-directive person centred therapy is a key component in the peer mentoring. His concept of the individual being the expert of them self and that the agender is set by them not the therapist or in this case the mentor. That the relationship is of equals and that there are the core conditions of Rogers offered within the relationship that the basis of the peer mentoring is the empathy for others. The mentee has or are going through similar experiences as they the mentor have themselves have experienced, offers commonalities that form a foundation from which the relationship can grow. The relationship works in engaging and enabling the mentee to their goal attainment, into forming higher levels of resilience and autonomy through the positive interactions that working in a peer-based relationship has fostered. Peer mentoring is seen as a positive, enhancing way to get individuals into living a more fulfilling life, gaining life satisfaction and engaging socially within their community and reintegration into a positive balanced life style. Mental ill health is an isolating experience and reengagement can be an overwhelming and daunting prospect, having someone who they can identify with, of having shared similar experience of illness, and the steps to recovery as well as the experiences having engaged with service use (Davidson, Bellamy, Guy, &Miller, 2013). As mentoring is of peers there is an equality in worth and shared experiences. The equality of the pairing allows for work that is to be undertaken within the framework of mentoring practice to achieve the mentee’s goal and in so doing develop strategies for achievement of future goal attainment out-side of the mentorship relationship. This is similar to Rogers’ (2004) belief that each person could reach self-actualisation to fulfil their potential, believing that there was inherent good in each individual. Rogers sets as an ideal the fully functioning person, the fully functional person is open to experience, lives existentially, trust their feelings, lives creatively and fulfilling life.
Rogers is criticised as having set his theory in Westernised cultural values, that due to it seeing the individual’s achievement as being of more value over that of the group. That this is then excluding those cultures that have the group achievement as their core value over that of the individual. Such a society is Taiwan. The Taiwanese cultural beliefs and the religious influences make the Person -Centred theoretical approach difficult. Taiwan’s Eastern based philosophy does not hold the same core values of individual achievements as the Western cultures do (Wang, 2003). However, a study that compared Taiwan and the US found three distinct mentoring functions: career support, psychosocial support, and role that there was a cross-cultural generalisability of mentoring functions. That there is this cross-cultural generalisability within the mentoring role which works by offering the core conditions of Rogers person centred approach even though Wang (2003) discussed the blocking people’s actualising tendency within the Taiwanese cultural. That if given a the opitunity to have the space to explore self the tendency for self-actualisation will develop. That even if the cultural values are of the group if the individual is given opitunity they will align themselves to western values in the context of self-actualisation within the mentoring relationship.
In South Australia, the Peer Work Project is looking to place peers into mental health services, a three-step model was developed which was “prepare, train and support” (Carmen, Franke, Paton & Gassner, 2010). This is reflected by the BYW project at ABF Wrexham with its mentors having training and the preparation for the mentoring role and are then supported within that role with both personal and group supervision. The mentors are offered further training in areas such as Mental Health First Aid, First Aid, suicide awareness with the courses Safe Talk and Asist as well as seminars on mental health topics such as Bi-polar and personality disorders. This offers the mentor personal development opportunities which allows them to become more rounded in their perspectives and understanding which then benefits their role as mentor (ABF,2018). This in turn can be seen from a Rogerian perspective of growth and self-actualising tendency with the mentor striving towards fulfilling their potential both in the role of mentor and self (Rogers, 2004).
In experiencing Mentoring the mentor themselves find that they expand in personal development gaining insight into aspects of themselves through the training undertaken and the mentor/mentee relationship. Benefits of the relationship is felt by both as working together to facilitate positive change increases self-esteem in both parties builds positive patterns of behaviour and attitudes that can be taken forward into other situations. Batson tested the empathy-altruism hypothesis. Altruism can be defined as being in a motivational state that benefits another’s welfare over own. This in contraste to egoism where the motivational state is to increase self-welfare over others. It is whose welfare which is the defining difference between the motivational states that Baston (2008) saw as key to understanding altruism, he looks at the helping behaviour, acting morally, helping in order to gain internal rather than external rewards. Stating that “As long as a person in need is helped, why worry about the nature of the underlying motivation?” (Baston, 2008), (Batson, Ahmad, & Stocks, 2011). This is reflected in the mentor having opportunities to better themselves via training even if they never thought of the benefits to self but that it was and would be beneficial to the role of mentor. This still means if Baston is to be taken in to account that there is egoistically motivated behaviour as well as the altruistic act of helping. Baston speaks of the motivation behind the act as being not know, that individuals do not observe their actions or intentions directly. That compassion for another is the factor for which an individual will act upon and that any benefits to self which occur directly or indirectly are inconsequential in context to the benefit to another who was in need of help (Baston, 2008).
The ultimate aim of mentoring is that the mentee sets and attains their goal from within a relationship that nurtures the core conditions that Rogers set out as being necessary for change. That in the peer relationship an equality fosters positive benefits to both in growth on a personal level of gaining self-esteem, confidence and higher levels of resilience through the goal set focus which is a form of self-actualisation through the mentor/mentee relationship (Rogers, 2004).
- ABF. (2018). Advance Brighter Futures (ABF) – BYW (Believe You Will) – Mental Health Recovery Services https://www.dewis.wales/ResourceDirectory/ViewResource.aspx?id=8930
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