Mentor and Mentee: On Growth Through Belief and Challenge

Earlier today, the wife of an early mentor in my life contacted me via my website. My clinical assistant quickly forwarded it to me. The message was regarding a mentor from over 21 years ago who has end-stage cancer and is in hospice. He received an article, via a friend, that I wrote recently about the importance of mentorship and how mentors in my personal life had brought me to who I am today, by believing in me, challenging me, and teaching me.

She wrote: I read your essay to him and it brought tears to his eyes. He was diagnosed last December and has had a tough go of it. In 2019, he was instrumental in requiring brain trauma and injury education for all working with the child welfare and court system to help protect children ages one through six. This has now become Congressional law and you were part of this process. He’s at home now with the help of hospice and struggles to speak, and sometimes wonders if his life and work did any real good. Your tribute showed how much he did. Thank you for writing about your experiences with him, it made him tremendously happy.

My own tears aside, I have always believed firmly in the importance and value of having great mentors or Sensei. It is a timeless way of learning and carrying on knowledge.

What are mentors?
–  Mentoring is the act of passing down a body of consolidated knowledge and experience to another person. It is a one on one relationship that is intentional and is based on encouragement, openness, trust, respect, feedback, belief, and willingness to learn and share.
–  Mentors are recognized experts or scholars in their field.
–  Mentoring requires taking genuine interest in helping another person grow and develop, without transactional interactions.
–  A good mentor is a role model who shows you what is possible, while encouraging you to attain even higher goals.
–  A mentor is a safe space. They may offer corrective feedback and constructive criticism, but they do not belittle, diminish, or minimize your capacities and talent. They may be an expert, but they never make you feel less than.

May we all receive mentors and become mentors to others.
(With love and respect:
*to Dr. Allen Roses, Neurogenetics, Duke University, #RIP who took me out for shrimp and chicken wing lunches when I was a poor student, and taught me how to extract DNA and run a centrifuge in my sleep. He exemplified that science saves lives;
*to Dr. George Bonanno, Columbia University, one of the top resiliency and trauma experts in the world who traveled back-and-forth from New York to Washington DC on his own dime to help me with my data collection during 9/11 and my overall dissertation research;
*to Dr. Sandy Zeskind, Virginia Tech, who helped me fall in love with clinical psychology and developmental psychology and believed in me enough to give me a senior position in his lab at age 18;
*to Dr. Jim Lewis, clinical neuropsychologist, an advocate for victims of brain trauma, who took me from graduate student to professional without qualms, asked me to co-teach his class, and was unfailingly kind and nurturing even with his years of knowledge and experience;
*And, to my dearest Dr. Neil Schiff, who hired me straight out of a doctoral program, helped pay my tuition bills, was steadfastly there through personal woes, trusted me enough to become his Clinical Director for multiple offices, and most importantly taught me that social activism + mental health are the key to the future.

Thank you.

Embolden Psychology
Embolden

Embolden offers the ADOS-2, the gold standard assessment for kids on the spectrum.

Combined with psychoeducational testing, it helps provide comprehensive information and recommendations to help children and teens six and up.

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