Editor’s note: The Mentoring Spotlight highlights the Society for Health Psychology’s Health Psych Connections program with experiences from mentor-mentee pairs and occasional articles on effective mentoring. The Health Psych Connections program is open to all SfHP members at any career stage post-doctorate; for more information visit www.health-psych.org/Connections.cfm.
Marni Amsellem, PhD
Several months back, I read a posting on the SfHP listserv soliciting interested parties for the Health Psych Connections mentoring program. As it turned out, the timing couldn’t have been more perfect; I was actually wishing I could discuss career-related plans with another health psychologist. I work remotely as a consultant (and part-time, at that), which though has worked well for me, means that I have limited opportunity for networking and building new relationships. For many reasons, I didn’t hesitate to inquire about participating.
I spoke with Zeeshan Butt, PhD about my goals for participating in this program so he could make an appropriate match for me. I had many ideas about how I could grow as a health psychologist but wasn’t sure how to pursue them in reality. I wanted to hear how others have made the decisions they have made and how they have been able to achieve their goals. Specifically, I had requested a mentor who was adept at wearing multiple hats as a health psychologist. I had reached a place in my career where I was wanting to build upon what I am currently doing, and in my mind, there were many potential ways in which I saw this happening.
I was pleased to be connected with Kristina Pecora, PsyD, who is actively engaged in research at an institution yet maintains a thriving full-time private practice in Chicago. Throughout our calls, she served as a valuable sounding board for some ideas that I had barely articulated even to myself at that point. I felt that our calls were a safe place to discuss potential opportunities. Kristina also offered several helpful suggestions to consider. Furthermore, hearing her experiences about how she has been able to meet her own goals has been insightful and helpful to me.
Having this relationship has been a very positive experience. Overall, our calls have made me value the role that thoughtful dialogue with colleagues and building new relationships play in our career development, at any stage of our career. Often our career goals evolve over time, and for those who are on less traditional career trajectories, it really is essential to check in with peers and more experienced colleagues. I am grateful to have had this opportunity to participate in Health Psychology Connections, and I encourage others to do the same!
Kristina Pecora, PsyD
Marni and I were introduced to the Health Psych Connections program in November 2015. Zee introduced it to us as a way of connecting professionally with an opportunity to learn. Beyond that, there were really no rules or expectations, but there was the hope that we would both grow through the experience.
The risk-to-reward ratio has been tremendous for me – for very little of my time, I’ve benefitted from the program in getting to know another SfHP member, growing in my own personal confidence through coaching her on some difficult questions, and learning how to think about opportunities in a different way considering her perspective. Ultimately, it’s been rewarding to use my own experience and a little motivational interviewing to help Marni work toward a career expansion. At a time when I’ve stepped away from teaching for a bit, mentoring Marni helped me maintain a part of my career – professional development – in a very tangible way.
I can see the mentoring program as a great way to connect SfHP members together. The one-on-one format allows each person to get to know the other on a deeper level, learning from others’ successes and mistakes. And it stretches both mentor and mentee to problem solve professionally and practically.
Marni and I have stayed in touch beyond the initial mentoring phone call, and I look forward to seeing her move forward with her plans.