“Mentoring is to support and encourage people to manage their own learning in order that they may maximize their skills, improve their performance and become the person they want to be.” (Eric Parsloe, The Oxford School of Coaching and Mentoring).
The above definition highlights a different mindset and approach to the service of mentoring that this particular population requires. It is not a singularly exclusive approach by any means but rather one that will increase positive outcomes for those transitioning from incarceration, who are open to support and guidance.
There is a Kenyan proverb which says “The child is the father of the man” (and conversely “the mother of the woman”). Whatever we experience, are exposed to or nurtured by as children, will directly impact our development as human beings. This simple fact must be acknowledged, and factored in, without judgment. This in no way provides some general or blanket excuse for the actions of others but rather a way of examining thought processes and patterns of behavior. Our goal is not the cessation of criminal conduct, substance abuse or other anti-social negative behaviors. Incarceration and other probationary or correctional sanctions do a fairly decent job of temporarily accomplishing that.
Change is what is required. True change is the empowering result of first identifying dysfunctional thinking errors, coming to understand their impact on decision making, and finally substituting different ways of thinking (processing perceptions, fears or desires). Next will come the adopting of more appropriate, socially acceptable responses to situations and stimuli and patterns of behavior that will achieve the results those we serve may desire.
Aiding in this transformational process is the responsibility of a mentor.
It is absolutely not necessary that a mentor has “been there and done that”, relating to participants on that level. However, many will attempt to discount or devalue the offerings of those they feel could not possibly understand where they are “coming from”. That having been said, SCC incorporates mentors who have navigated similar challenges successfully. Likewise, SCC exposes its clients to supportive and caring individuals whose lives have never been compromised by alcohol or other drugs, incarceration or that which ties those things together.