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Fallow, G. O. & Johnson, W.B. (2000)

Mentor relationships in secular and religious professional psychology programs Vol. 19(4), 363-376

The authors of this article researched the prevalence and nature of mentor-protege relationships in religiously oriented and secular professional psychology programs. Fallow and Johnson note that mentor relationships have been known to have several benefits for both the mentor and the protege involved in the relationship. Yet, they noticed that there is a lack of empirical evidence to support these beliefs. The relative paucity of research revealed that only half of psychology graduates are mentored, and PsyD graduates were less likely to be mentored than PhD graduates.

In this study, Fallow and Johnson surveyed 286 students who graduated from religiously oriented, PsyD graduate programs, specifically Rosemead School of Psychology, Fuller Theological Seminary, and George Fox University. They also surveyed 373 PsyD graduates from secular schools, randomly selected from the APA Research Office. The survey packet each participant received contained a review of the mentoring literature, a definition of mentoring, and a few questions regarding whether they had a mentor, the nature of the mentor relationship, and satisfaction of their doctoral program.

Fallow and Johnson discovered that approximately half of the students in both religious and secular programs were mentored during their studies. Further, the highest traits found in both secular and religious mentors were intelligence and knowledge, and religious mentors received higher ratings on warmth and caring than mentors in secular programs. Additionally, students in religious programs were more likely to socialize with faculty outside the academic setting and consider their mentor a friend, which stirred ethical questions for Fallow and Johnson as they suggested religious programs consider the potential for harm in dual relationships.

The authors also found that mentor relationships were usually initiated by the protege or mutually initiated by the protege and mentor. The highest rated reason for forming the relationship was the mentor's personality; but secular program respondents were drawn to similar professional and research interests with their mentor, while religious respondents were drawn to faculty with similar religious beliefs or commitment.

In regards to negative aspects of mentor relationships, 22% of the respondents felt their mentor was not as available as they would have liked, and 16% had a difficult time terminating the relationship. A small percentage of respondents also endorsed items such as doing things for the mentor they felt uncomfortable doing or feeling their mentor engaged in unethical and/or sexual behavior within the relationship.

Overall, the results displayed that mentor relationships are seen as extremely positive, and most respondents felt mentor relationships were extremely important in the PsyD programs. Further, mentored students were significantly more satisfied with their doctoral program than nonmentored students. Those whom did not have mentors indicated that they felt mentors were not encouraged by the program and that faculty did not have time to mentor.

This study seemed to be well-donein its ability to discuss clearly the differences and similarities between religious and secular programs, which are relevant for all faculty and students considering mentor relationships. Additionally, this article challenges the structure of clinical psychology programs regarding how available mentors are in each school. The authors conclude with a sobering commentary on the impact of mentoring: "When graduate students are not mentored by a faculty member, we hypothesize that they are less likely to develop strong professional identities, and they this may ultimately weaken the health of the profession broadly" (p. 374).


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Article Details
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Title Annotation:mentor relationships
Publication:Journal of Psychology and Theology
Article Type:Statistical Data Included
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Sep 22, 2001
Next Article:Contemporary Psychoanalysis.

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