How To Support, Mentor, and Grow Your Clinicians

Burnout is the enemy of group and private practice owners. Burnout is the enemy of group and private practice owners. If your employees experience burnout, they’ll have a negative self-assessment of their work, feel ineffective, lose morale, and productivity. Staff experiencing burnout will accomplish less for themselves and your practice.

Private mental health practice aims to foster a work environment that guards against burnout. Some ways to do that include a hiring process that ensures a good fit between clinicians and your business model, a comprehensive onboarding program, and competitive pay. Adding a mentorship program to your practice can also help.

With all the demands of building a business, managing staff, and attending to your caseload, you may feel overwhelmed at the thought of also having to support, mentor, and grow your clinicians. This guide will discuss why mentorship matters in mental health practices and give you practical tips for implementing a mentoring program among your clinicians.

Why Is It Important for Healthcare Leaders To Have a Strong and Positive Mentor?

Mentoring relationships provide clinicians the support they need to improve their practice without experiencing burnout. Working with a more experienced person who can act as a role model will help guide clinicians through an onboarding process, take care of their emotional and mental health needs, and create an accurate assessment of their work.

A good mentor has the leadership skills necessary to listen more than they talk and offer experience-based feedback on problems and performance. As a business owner, creating a mentorship program to support and grow your clinicians is an investment in the success of your private or group practice.

The mentoring relationship can be a formal mentorship or an informal one depending on the climate of your office. Preparing a few experienced clinicians to offer guidance to newer hires can help your practice and providers experience the following benefits of mentorship.

Improved Patient Care

Mental health providers are at risk of burnout due to compassion fatigue and other factors. You work with clients experiencing various life stressors that clinicians may find triggering. A successful mentorship program can teach clinicians how to improve their clinical skills and handle compassion fatigue.

Improved Clinician Retention

The sustainability of your practice relies on having therapists who are as committed to the mission of your business as you. Hiring clinicians is expensive and time-consuming, so you need to hire providers, onboard them appropriately, and provide continued support, so they feel invested in building and growing your practice.

Career Development

The broader credentials your staff holds, the more clients you can serve. Increasing your reach can help with insurance paneling for your practice. Mentorship programs offer opportunities for professional growth in-house. They can also boost your clinicians’ resumes.

Personal Development

Effective mental health providers must constantly work on their personal development to have a successful career. a Mentor can provide a sounding board as your clinicians learn to manage their own mental health and mindset issues that affect their career.

Mentors are especially helpful in guiding mentees in setting and enforcing boundaries with work and personal lives, learning to manage time, and deciding which career opportunities fit their values.

How Do I Know If My Mentoring is Going Well?

Systems require monitoring to ensure they’re running well and having the desired effect. Successful mentoring aims to increase employee retention, create a supportive workplace climate, and improve productivity and revenue. You’ll want to design a systematic review process to ensure your mentoring program has the desired effect.

A systematic review process should take the perspectives of both the mentor and mentee and evaluate critical components of the program. Consider creating the following for your mentorship program.

  • A system for monitoring the number of clients a new clinician brings in and retains.
  • Periodic questionnaires via Google Forms or another service that collect perspectives of both the mentee and mentor. Consider one at the beginning of the program to ascertain what the mentee hopes to get out of the program, one after a month, and another six months into the program.
  • A system for changing mentors. If you have more than one clinician serving as a mentor, they may not be a good fit for everyone. An effective mentoring program aligns with the needs of individuals.

How Can I Make My Mentoring More Effective?

When you’re serving as a mentor, your goal is to foster an effective mentor-mentee relationship. If, after performing part of your systematic review, you find your new clinician is struggling with one aspect of working in a group practice or another, you’ll need a process for gathering more information and making changes. Since each mentor-mentee relationship is unique, it’s difficult to provide detailed guidance about what will make mentoring more effective. Here’s a list of considerations when you’re looking for areas of improvement.

Prioritize Your Mentee’s Needs Over Yours

Your mentee will have different professional and personal goals than you, and it’s vital to tailor your time with them to address their goals. If you don’t have young children at home and you’re mentoring someone who does, asking them to put in extra hours regularly may not fit their goals. Being invested in their success in both personal and professional arenas will ensure you build an effective mentor-mentee relationship.

Be Honest – Especially When it’s Difficult

There will be moments when your mentee makes a mistake in judgment. Your job is to help them learn and grow, so it’s vital to point these errors out, discuss them without ridicule, and provide solutions to either solve the problem their mistake created or prevent it from happening again.

Create a Wealth of Professional Experience

As you build relationships with mentees, you’ll draw on your professional credentials and networks to solve problems, offer ideas for growth opportunities, and help your mentee create their own support network. A wealth of professional clinical experience, a cache of credentials and certifications, and a network of industry professionals to share with your mentee will help them chart their career course and improve their contribution to the practice. This experience will also help you identify areas of growth for your mentee.

Commit to Time With Your Mentee

Many mentor-mentee relationships fail because finding time to meet is often troublesome. When you’re running a business, taking care of your caseload, and meeting your obligations, your mentee can fall through the cracks. To ensure this doesn’t happen, try scheduling a meeting every week or two. Set an agenda of what to discuss with your mentee each time, and send it in advance so they can add to it as well. This will ensure that your meetings are productive and that your mentee feels supported rather than abandoned.

Listen More Than You Talk

Effective mentoring requires an understanding of your new clinician’s perspectives and experiences. Rather than jumping in with advice right away, ask questions about issues to gather more information. Some prompts to elicit more information include:

  • Tell me more about how that problem made you feel.
  • What are your goals and objectives?
  • What is working with _____? What isn’t working?
  • What ideas have you developed to help you overcome challenges in the past? Do any of those have potential here?
  • What sort of help and support would you like from me?

Being an Effective Mentee

When starting your mentorship program, you’ll need to let your mentees know what characteristics they should bring to the table. Knowing what makes an effective mentee will help you in your hiring process and give new clinicians guidance for participating in your mentorship program. An effective mentee must:

  • Be open to feedback.
  • Be respectful of the mentor’s time and boundaries.
  • Take responsibility for setting goals and completing action steps.

Invest in Your Business By Creating an Effective Mentorship Program

You started your private practice to increase your reach as a clinician and to grow a profitable business while maintaining your mission and vision. Creating a mentorship program for new clinicians will ensure you reach more clients, provide more effective therapy services, and retain quality employees invested in your company’s success.

Soribel Martinez, LCSW, is a psychotherapist with over 20 years of experience in the mental health field who started SMPsychotherpay & Counseling Services and scaled it into practice with ______ therapists who serve over _____ clients. Now, Soribel offers coaching services to mental health practitioners ready to grow their practice and create the independent life they crave. She can help you clarify your business goals and create the necessary systems for success.Book your FREE Business Consultation Call today to learn more about Soribel’s business coaching services. She’ll learn more about your current business, your goals for scaling your practice and provide her recommendations for your next steps.

  1. (Morse, G., Salyers, M. P., Rollins, A. L., Monroe-DeVita, M., & Pfahler, C. (2012). Burnout in mental health services: a review of the problem and its remediation. Administration and policy in mental health, 39(5), 341–352. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10488-011-0352-1)
  2. Straus, S. E., Johnson, M. O., Marquez, C., & Feldman, M. D. (2013). Characteristics of successful and failed mentoring relationships: a qualitative study across two academic health centers. Academic medicine : journal of the Association of American Medical Colleges, 88(1), 82–89. https://doi.org/10.1097/ACM.0b013e31827647a0

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