Mentored experience is a common and necessary practice in various types of applied psychology, as it allows less experienced mentees to learn from the experience and expertise of a mentor, provides quality control in the respective field, and adds impetus and direction for developing professionals (Schoenwald, Sheidow, & Chapman, 2009). If you are interested in becoming a Certified Consultant (CC-AASP), you will need 400 hours of mentored experience by an AASP-approved mentor. Ten percent (40 hours) of mentored experience hours will be spent in direct or indirect meetings with the mentor (i.e., mentored experience).
Thus, it is critical to identify schools that offer internship experiences, as well as determine if there are potential mentors in the area that would be able to offer the necessary mentorship (i.e., a mentor who is a CC-AASP; see Becoming Certified). Consulting directly with a team, working on performance enhancement with an individual athlete, and teaching individuals how to increase exercise adherence are all examples of possible mentored experiences (AASP, 2007-2012).
At this point in your career development, you may have completed many of the major steps toward becoming a professional in sport and exercise psychology. These steps may include deciding on a field of study, selecting an educational institution, and completing required coursework. The next integral step towards becoming a CC-AASP is mentored experience. As such, identifying a mentored opportunity, gaining knowledge of the mentorship process, and understanding both your role as a mentee and the benefits of mentorship are essential tasks that will prepare you for your mentorship experience. Mentorship is especially crucial to development and gaining competence in sport and exercise psychology due to the unique clientele and the idiosyncratic settings in which services are often rendered (Carr & Shunk, 2011).
One of the most effective tools for locating a mentor or creating a mentored experience is networking. The connections made through networking can provide information, contacts, and/or referrals (Appleby et al., 2011). Another effective way to locate a potential mentor is getting involved in organizations, such as AASP and the American Psychological Association (APA). These organizations have student memberships and offer multiple opportunities to become involved with fellow members who are CC-AASP. Additionally, when looking for potential mentored experiences, it is suggested that individuals reference the CC-AASP registry to locate the nearest consultant.
Once a mentor and practicum site have been located, it is important for the mentee to have an understanding of the mentorship process. First, it is important to acknowledge that some students may experience anxiety when beginning an applied experience (e.g., Tonn & Harmison, 2004). Entering into a practicum in which a student will work with clients for the first time, as well as working with a mentor who possesses more knowledge and experience can be an anxiety-provoking situation. Additionally, the mentee will often be asked to leave his/her "comfort zone" in order to grow as an effective sport and exercise psychology professional. This might include a willingness to be open and receptive to critical and constructive feedback given by the mentor. Finally, ambiguity concerning role expectations (i.e., mentee, mentor) and the possible benefits of mentorship can also be a source of anxiety for students entering mentorship. In attempts to develop awareness of the aforementioned experiences that take place during the mentorship process, the following paragraphs provide a brief review of literature examining the experience of menthes undergoing applied mentorship.
Tod, Andersen, and Marchant (2009) reported that early in training, students believed the supervisor's role was to provide specific guidance as they began working with clients. Additionally, trainees stated that their supervisors were able to ease many of their anxieties when working with clients, as well as their overall competencies in the field. With this in mind, mentees who feel overwhelmed during the process are encouraged to utilize their mentor as a resource, as well as a mechanism of support. Furthermore, McCullagh and Noble (2002) shed light on the fact that mentorship in sport and exercise psychology is relatively new in comparison to some of the other well established supervision procedures in other specializations (consider, for instance, clinical psychology [Falender & Shafranske, 2004], social work [American Board of Examiners in Clinical Social Work, 2004], or medicine [Ulmer, Wolman, & Johns, 2009]). Although the mentorship experience in sport and exercise psychology may not be as explicitly articulated or predictable, it has been found to be an essential aspect for the well-being of the client (whom the trainee may be working with) and overall professional development (McCullagh & Noble, 2002).
Taken together, the aforementioned papers highlight that mentorship is a necessary process, and trainees tend to find mentorship extremely valuable. Trainees reported an increase in communication skills and an improved ability to mold interventions to match the individual needs of the athlete or client (Tod et al., 2009). Moreover, other trainees stated that the guidance of their supervisors stuck with them well into their professional careers. Finally, the literature suggests that mentorship is an important component of professional growth for both the individual and the field of sport and exercise psychology. Therefore, students should view the mentorship experience as an opportunity to accumulate knowledge, a place to hone skills, and a resource for support when coping with anxieties concerning competence.
Additional resources for information on the supervision/mentorship process