A mentor can do much to help the mentee during the eating disorder recovery process. The support and encouragement a mentor can provide can make a significant difference in the mentee’s recovery. It’s important, however, to understand both what a mentor does and does not do.
A mentor walks with the mentee through the recovery process in various ways. He or she provides a listening ear. Someone with good listening skills tunes into not only what the mentee is saying, but also to what the mentee is feeling and takes the mentee’s comments seriously on all levels. This kind of connection will help the mentee to feel more comfortable in sharing his or her needs.
A mentor provides encouragement and support by doing things such as reminding the mentee how far he or she has come or that there is always hope of recovery. The mentor can tag along for appointments, give pep talks when the mentee is facing challenges or direct the mentee to helpful books, websites and other resources.
Another component of the mentoring process may be accountability. The mentor can check in with the mentee to make sure he or she is keeping appointments, sticking to a meal plan or completing therapist assigned homework. These benefits and others can help the mentee to stay the course during recovery.
In Christian mentoring, the mentor may also pray for the mentee, provide scriptural support and recommend Christian music or reading material. A Christian mentor can encourage the mentee to invite God into any or each part of his or her recovery. He or she can also help the mentee dig into God’s word for inspirational truths to provide strength and direction in the recovery process.
A mentor, though, is not a substitute for therapy, medical attention or any other eating disorder treatment option. A mentor can neither diagnose nor treat an eating disorder. While a mentor may in some cases, be a professional, often he or she is not. Therefore, the mentor does not have the training to act as a therapist, a dietitian, a doctor or any other type of professional involved in treating eating disorders. A mentor also does not bear the responsibility of crisis management in the recovery of the mentee.
A mentor can do many things to support the mentee during eating disorder recovery. He or she can encourage or even inspire the mentee, can provide accountability, prayer support and a vital listening ear, but cannot provide professional services nor do any of the hard work of recovery for the mentee. The benefits of what a mentor can do, though, can make a significant difference in the mentee’s recovery experience.