Mini-mentors: Differences in mentoring between Psy.D. and Ph.D. psychology doctoral students

Alexandra Groody (2004)

Previous research has shown that Ph.D. psychologists report higher rates of mentoring than Psy.D.s. This finding may be due to research methodology rather than to an actual difference between the groups, as subjects were asked to make a binary decision about mentoring before describing the relationship. This method also did not capture the multiple brief relationships that Psy.D. students typically have with faculty and supervisors. In an attempt to mitigate this effect, the current study allowed respondents to describe their relationships without first designating them as "mentorships" or "not mentorships". This change in methodology yielded different results than previous research. Key results include: 82% of respondents reported that they had mentors while in graduate school, versus the 60% found by other studies; Ph.D.s and Psy.D.s reported equivalent mentoring rates; and all respondents described at least one important relationship, with many (48%) describing more two or more. Of all relationships described, 77% were deemed to be mentorships by respondents, indicating that although the remaining 23% did not achieve mentor status, they were still significant and bore attention (hence the title "mini-mentors"). Mentors performed a higher number of functions for respondents than non-mentors, although the presence or absence of certain functions (such as counseling or sponsorship) was not found to be the determining factor of relationship status. The most commonly cited obstacles to mentoring included a lack of faculty time and a narrow focus in the faculty/student relationship. The most important implication of these findings is that the order in which questions are asked influences outcome and that careful inquiry reveals a richer picture of mentor/protégé relationships. Other implications are that mentorships exist at different levels of intensity (mini-mentors versus traditional mentors), that they are influenced by multiple personal and institutional factors, and that they require careful examination to be understood.