Supporting mentees’ emotion regulation strategies

Kiadarbandsari, A. (2023). Mentors’ supporting approaches of mentees’ cognitive emotion regulation strategies. Journal of Adolescent Research, 1–36.

Summarized by Megyn Jasman and Ariel Ervin

Notes of Interest:

  • Emotion regulation strategies involve handling thoughts, feelings, and other emotions in ways that contribute to positive outcomes.
  • Since adolescents are still developing their cognitive abilities, they need guidance on effectively regulating their emotions.
  • Non-parental mentoring relationships have the potential to support youths in regulating their emotions through informal activities.
  • This study explored which cognitive emotion regulation approaches mentees use under hardship and how mentors respond to them.
  • Mentees and mentors had different reports of the specific strategies mentees utilized.
  • The most frequent cognitive emotion regulation skills mentors reported their mentees to be using included the following (in order):
    • Acceptance
    • Positive reappraisal
    • Positive refocusing
    • Putting things into perspective
    • Refocus on planning
  • However, mentees stated that they used some non-adaptive approaches, such as self-blame and rumination (mentors reported that mentees used these strategies the least).
  • There were two main themes for mentors’ support of mentees’ emotion regulation skills:
    • Providing emotional support (e.g., normalizing the experience, providing validation and reassurance).
    • Providing new ways of learning (e.g., situation analyses, perspective-taking).
  • Some mentors’ approaches to providing support differed depending on if the mentees’ strategy was adaptive or non-adaptive.
    • For example, the validation approach to providing support was only used by mentors when the mentees’ emotion regulation strategy was adaptive.
  • Youth-serving programs should provide comprehensive training for mentors surrounding emotion regulation skills and support mentees’ development of such skills.
    • It may be helpful to have the training administered by a Cognitive Behavioral Therapy expert (i.e., such as a CBT psychologist).

Introduction (Reprinted from the Abstract)

This study assesses the frequency of youth mentees’ cognitive emotion regulation strategies during negative life events and it explores how mentors respond to their mentees’ cognitive emotion regulation strategies during those situations. This research engaged 40 mentees and 35 mentors in New Zealand. Analyses are completed using descriptive statistics and thematic analysis. Findings revealed that the mentors reported their mentees’ more frequent use of adaptive cognitive emotion regulation strategies (acceptance, positive reappraisal, positive refocusing, putting things into perspective, and refocus on planning), whereas youth mentees reported slightly different rates of the strategies (positive reappraisal, acceptance, refocus on planning, putting into perspective, and rumination). In response to their mentees, the mentors supported their mentees’ cognitive emotion regulation through two over-arching responses: emotional support (e.g., reassurance, use of self-disclosure, normalizing mentees’ feelings, redirecting self-blame, showing availability, and validation); and by providing new ways of learning (e.g., teaching positive reappraisal, refocus on planning and problem solving, positive refocus, situation analysis, promoting perspective-taking, as well as emphasizing ownership and taking responsibility). These findings provide insights into youth emotion regulation in mentoring contexts and also offer suggestions for future studies and mentor training.

Implications (Reprinted from the Implications for Practice)

A number of implications can be drawn from this study that may be beneficial to youth and mentoring programs. First, the findings revealed that mentors attempt to support their mentees’ emotion regulation once they experience stressful or adverse life events. This finding indicates the need for youth and mentoring programs to deliver training for mentors in terms of improving their knowledge of how to support their mentees’ emotion regulation efforts when they discuss stressful life events. Mentors should be experienced in the facilitation skills required for effective emotion coaching and to provide proper responses.

Mentoring programs provide an important context for the development of formal matches (e.g., Bowers et al., 2015; Keller, 2005). Additionally, informal/natural mentoring relationships also can contribute in promoting youth’s favorable outcomes (e.g., DuBois & Silverthorn, 2005; Hurd et al., 2014; Schwartz et al., 2007). It is important for mentors to recognize how to respond to their mentees’ cognitive emotion regulation strategies during adverse life events since these strategies are delicately connected to emo- tions and cognitions, which at a higher level are tied to the individual’s psychological well-being. Therefore, intervention planners, practitioners, and organizations engaged in youth programs should consider mentor training by a psychologist or CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy) trainer as many mentors might not be educated in the mental health field. As it was reported by one of the mentor participants in this research that stated “I give them the opportunity to talk about their feelings and thoughts. I am CBT trained so I try and get her to connect her feelings, thoughts and responses,” mentor training could promote mentors’ skills when responding to their mentees during negative life events.To access this article, click here.