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Becoming a Better Mentor: Strategies to be There for Young People

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Book Chapter

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Social work with youth, Mentoring -- Evaluation, Mentoring -- Research


A mentoring relationship typically doesn’t operate in isolation. Even youth who want or need additional support from a mentor are bound to have many other important people in their lives, such as parents and other caregivers, siblings, teachers, and peers. Consequently, a mentor already may have or may need to establish relationships with other people in the mentee’s network of support. Because these other individuals, and a mentor’s interactions with them, have the potential to enhance or detract from the mentoring experience, they are all important parts of the “mentoring relationship system.”

This chapter outlines important considerations for how to approach these other people to create “working alliances” with them in which you communicate effectively, set appropriate boundaries, and agree on goals and activities in support of your mentee.

Specifically, this chapter discusses:

  • connecting with others in the youth’s network while maintaining a focus on your mentee;
  • respecting the priorities and values of caregivers, teachers, and other important people in your mentee’s life and aligning expectations with them;
  • appropriate sharing of information about your mentee (e.g., learning about your mentee, getting feedback on the mentoring relationship, informing others about your mentee while maintaining confidentiality); and
  • clarifying boundaries and establishing expectations for your mentoring role.


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