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Mentoring – Improving Care and Leaving a Legacy


As addiction counselors, we seek to make a difference – a lasting impression on those with whom we work and on those whom we treat today and have helped in the past. There is no greater satisfaction than to feel like we have made a difference. As many counselors pass through the prime and into the twilight of their careers, they may stop for a moment and wonder if they have done enough. Was all their effort worth it? What would they leave behind if today were their last day as a counselor?

Mentoring can make the answer very clear.

It may seem straightforward, but what exactly are the qualities of a good mentor?

  • Mentors are leaders – they don’t simply bark out orders, but they lead by example, inspiring those around them to be better every day
  • Mentors are professionally honest with themselves and their mentees. No-one knows everything and no-one is always right. Teaching a mentee how to deal with failure is just as important as showing them how to succeed.
  • Mentors have been around the block. Experience is key. Ultimately, a mentor imparts wisdom upon their mentees and promotes critical, independent thinking on the part of their protégé
  • Mentors have the ability to communicate. It’s one thing to have the experience and quite another to communicate that vison and experience to someone else

Considerations of Being a Mentor

While mentoring comes easily to some, others need to work to be a good mentor. For others still, mentoring may not suit them at all. Indeed, mentoring can be a very scary concept for someone who feels insecure in their job or who may believe that their mentee will render them useless. That is why the mentor must ensure that they are ready for a very real and important responsibility. This is also why mentors are often Level 3 counselors and begin mentoring later in their careers; after they have established themselves and have achieved many of their professional goals.

Mentoring gives us a chance to make a difference in the lives of many more people than we could ever help alone. Mentoring a promising new counselor imparts maturity and experience that would otherwise take far longer for the mentee to acquire. In similar fashion, mentoring offers the counselor a chance to build a legacy that will live on for generations to come.

How far and wide the difference we make reaches is up to us. Mentoring up and coming counselors can create a culture of excellence that will last for years to come and change the lives of more people than we could ever imagine.