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I've been fortunate to have good mentors from the beginning of my massage education. Some of those I looked up to and sought advice from are no longer with us, including my first mentor, who was an instructor I really admired. I remember them all with much gratitude. I still have two mentors with whom I've had relationships for more than two decades. Their willingness to share their experiences and guidance has been invaluable. After gaining a few years of experience in massage and as a massage business owner, preceded by many years of experience employing others in my former career as a restaurant owner, I began to mentor new therapists. There is some overlap between the concepts of mentoring and coaching, and some distinct differences. A mentor is someone in the same field as you who can offer advice based on wisdom gleaned from personal experiences. A coach may or may not be in the same field as you, avoids giving advice based on their past experiences, and encourages people to find answers of their own, often through the use of asking questions that encourage self-ref lection. There are many coaching programs offered by massage therapists that may be one- on-one or group sessions, often held on an online platform such as Zoom, that are usually less expensive than paying for a solo service. There are also mentoring groups onlineā€”I participated in one with one of my former mentees recently. Both mentors and coaches may be thought of as facilitators of personal and/ or professional growth. While there are mentors available for hire, it's more common L i s te n to T h e A B M P Po d c a s t a t a b m m /p o d c a s t s o r w h e reve r yo u a cce s s yo u r favo r i te p o d c a s t s 91 essential skills | HEART OF BODYWORK Have a Mentor, Be a Mentor Find Support from Those Who Have Been in Your Shoes By Laura Allen TAKEAWAY: When you've gained enough experience, mentor others. for coaching to be a paid service; mentoring is often done without charge, in a less formal way than coaching, and as a way to give back to the profession. If you have a mentor who has been there for you, you've probably realized their life and work experience has been accrued over years in the School of Hard Knocks. They've made mistakes they can advise you to avoid and faced the same ethical or business issues that might be causing you stress. My mentors expected me to go on to mentor others. They paid it forward and knew I would do the same. Many people who I mentored in the past are now doing it for others. It's a great service to the profession. Have a mentor, be a mentor! Laura Allen has been a licensed massage therapist since 1999 and an approved provider of continuing education since 2000. She is the author of Nina McIntosh's The Educated Heart, now in its fifth edition, and numerous other books. Allen lives in the mountains of western North Carolina with her husband and their two rescue dogs.

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