Mentoring As Reframing

A Useful Conceptualisation of Dyadic Multidisciplinary Mentoring in Academia


  • Rosalind McDougall University of Melbourne
  • Marie Connolly University of Melbourne


Mentoring, Reframing, Higher education, Leadership, Career development


Mentoring relationships between academics have been conceptualised in a variety of ways, drawing on concepts such as developmental networks, complex adaptive systems and ecology. However, reflecting on our experience as a mentoring dyad in a university context, we con- sidered that existing models of mentoring fail to capture what was a central element of our mentoring conversations: the reframing of challenges. Reframing is a well-established thera- peutic technique in social work that aims to help people change their perceptions from a problem to solution focus. By analysing three areas where reframing was powerful in our discussions, we argue that it represents a useful way of conceptualising the work of ment- oring across academic fields. We suggest that mentoring-as-reframing can be particularly valuable for early- and mid-career academics, as a stimulus to both recognise and engage critically with implicit organisational priorities, and to explore alternative solutions to what may be seen as intractable problems.

Author Biographies

Rosalind McDougall, University of Melbourne

Melbourne School of Population and Global Health, University of Melbourne

Marie Connolly, University of Melbourne

Department of Social Work, University of Melbourne


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