Student Mentoring Encourages Growth and Friendship
By Leslie Byrd LMT, CHAI graduate and contributing author to the CHAI Massage Blog.
January is annually recognized in the United States as National Mentoring Month. While this campaign is primarily to promote youth mentoring, in-keeping with its theme, we promote and encourage the relationships formed between new massage students and the instructors and advanced students who mentor, coach and befriend them. This mentoring and camaraderie can help students establish a deeper respect and understanding of massage therapy, which leads to more successful careers within the field.
Once a month on a Saturday, and occasionally more often, the Day Class and the Night Class of Cohutta Healing Arts Institute meet together as one class to learn and grow together. Receiving tips and advice from a classmate who went through the same modules just six months earlier can provide the newer students a feeling of ease and comfort within their learning. This coaching from classmates can enhance skills and boost confidence in a massage therapy student’s growing abilities. Techniques are shared, ideas exchanged, and over time, the student’s own style and capabilities emerge.
During our mentoring sessions, the classroom lights are dimmed and massage tables are made up with clean linens, just as they would be for Student Clinic sessions. Day and Night students are paired with one as the massage therapist and the other as the client. As a session or protocol is delivered, a “senior” student may offer feedback or coaching to the “freshman.” Learning is a little easier and a bit less intimidating when some of the skills and knowledge come from another student or peer.
Occasionally, this coaching and mentoring encourages a bond that turns into friendship. Students who practice with and learn from each other often continue their relationship well beyond graduation. The knowledge and support received from peers helps guide the students toward a more rewarding future.