Mentor, mentoring

A mentor is a person with a lot of experience and high professional recognition who offers help and direction with the recipient’s growth in mind, within the frames of a strong relationship based on trust. [1]
Mentoring may be given in informal, i.e. natural, and in formal, organized ways. Informal mentoring may occur between a young person and an adult (other than the parent) in a spontaneous way, their relationship positively influencing personal development. This form of the relationship is mostly described in the literature as an optimal benchmark that formal mentoring should converge to. [2] Within formal mentoring we see the following forms: [3]

  • traditional mentoring: an adult mentors a young person,
  • group mentoring: an adult mentors several young persons,
  • team mentoring: several adults mentor one or more young persons,
  • peer mentoring: young persons mentor young persons,
  • e-mentoring: mentor and mentee communicate primarily via the internet.

The programmes are often distinguished on the basis of the locations of the activity, and thus we have community-based mentoring, which is not site-based, and site-based mentoring, where most of the mentoring activities are connected to a specific institution (e.g. school, work, religious institution). Due to the quick growth of mentoring programmes, efforts at further classification may be observed, which offer help in the objective assessment of the programmes.

How does a mentoring relationship make a difference?

Rhodes, Spencer, Keller, Liang and Noam [4] in their model created for researching the impact of the relationship identify three areas of the beneficial effects of mentoring:

  1. social situations and recreational activities together with the mentor may have a beneficial effect on the mentee’s emotional well-being and social relations;
  2. joint learning and intellectual challenges, conversations may promote cognitive development;
  3. the role model offered by the mentor can have a positive effect on the development of identity.


[1] Freedman, M.: The Kindness of Strangers. Reflections on the Mentoring Movement. 1992. Philadelphia, PA: Public/Private Ventures
[2] Zimmerman, M. A. – Bingenheimer, J. B. – Behrendt, D. E.: Natural mentoring relationships. In: DuBois, D. L. – Karcher, M. J. (eds.): Handbook of youth mentoring. 2005, Sage Publications, London. 143–157.
[3] Sipe, C. L.: Toward a typology of mentoring. In: DuBois, D. L. – Karcher, M. J. (eds.): Handbook of youth mentoring. 2005, Sage Publications, London. 65–80.
[4] Rhodes, J. E. et al.: A model for the influence of mentoring relationships on youth development. 2006, Journal of Community Psychology, 6. 691–707.

This article based on the following document: Community development methodological guide