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04/01/13

New AMHCA Mentorship Program Will Benefit Us All
By Kristen Lister, LPC, NCC
AMHCA Graduate Student Committee Secretary 

I love many things about the counseling profession. Our sense of community is one of them. As a student, I experienced this community firsthand when professors, supervisors, and fellow students generously shared their knowledge, wisdom, and support to help me become a better counselor. Their mentorship inspired me to be a mentor to others.

I must admit that my path to becoming a mentor has not come without challenges. When I was a second-year student in my counseling program, I attempted to create a mentorship program for the first-year students. I say “attempted” because only a few students came to the informational meetings I had arranged. 

The program never really got off the ground, and I came to the conclusion that my efforts had failed. I learned later, however, that many students actually had been interested in the program, but felt so overwhelmed with schoolwork that they could not find the time to participate. That feedback made me realize how important it was for me to continue to devote time to mentorship, because the need is there.

Whether you are a counseling student or a new professional, I encourage you to actively seek out mentoring relationships. 

The deadline for the AMHCA Foundation's Student Travel Award to AMHCA’s Annual Conference has been been extended to April

While in school you may have a built-in support system, but once you graduate, it can be difficult to maintain those supportive relationships. One great way to build your existing network of mentors is by seeking opportunities to volunteer your time to your state and national professional organizations. I have developed new mentoring relationships and found tremendous encouragement and support working with AMHCA and the AMHCA chapter in my home state. 

To the veterans and leaders of our counseling profession, I know that many of you may already be mentors. If not, I encourage you reach out to students and new counselors to let them know that you are available to be a mentor. 

Better yet, consider establishing a formal mentorship program. I know it can be difficult to carve out time from an already busy schedule, but those coming up in the ranks will appreciate your guidance more than you may ever know. Ultimately, the strength of our profession depends on mentorship for learning, growth, and development of a shared professional identity.

AMHCA’s Graduate Student Committee is excited to be developing a mentorship program for the benefit of our members. We are currently in the process of updating our mentorship handbook for use by our state chapters. We hope to be a resource to students, new professionals, and others who are seeking opportunities either to be a mentor or to be connected to one. 

If you have any ideas or suggestions that you would like to offer regarding our mentorship program, or would like more information, visit our Facebook page.

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