Peer mentoring

What is it?

Mentoring has been defined as a relationship, which has mutual benefits for all parties involved, and is generally used to help a less experienced person achieve their goals by being receiving assistance and guidance from a more experienced person .

Peer mentoring aims to enhance supportive relationships between two people, sharing knowledge and experience and providing an opportunity to learn from different perspectives.1,2

The mentor serves as a positive role model, promotes raised aspirations, positive reinforcement, provides open-ended counselling and joint problem-solving.1

How does it work?

There are a number of key features of a mentoring relationship.

DuBois & Karcher (2005) and Jacobi (1991, p. 513), outline the following characteristics as common to mentoring relationships:

  • Mentoring may include emotional and psychological support or it may have an element of role modelling.
  • Peer mentoring develops a personal, reciprocal relationship, built on trust and focused on achievement.
  • Relative to the mentee, the mentor usually will have greater experience/wisdom or achievement within a specific issue or organisation.

Common ways peer mentoring is used

This approach aims to provide support, e.g. during transition periods, adverse life events or exam preparation as well as to enhance decision.making and problem-solving skills.3

Examples of peer mentoring program approaches

Youth Mentoring Network

Mentors Peer Resources

Youth Empowerment Seminars (YESS)

Mentoring At-Risk Youth – A Selected Bibliography


  1. Burmaster, E 2002, Youth to Youth: A review of peer program theoretical underpinnings, forms, functions, and process- and outcome-related findings 2001-02. A literature review, Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction.
  2. McDonald, J, Roche, A, Durbridge, M & Skinner, N 2003, Peer Education: From Evidence to Practice: An alcohol and other drugs primer, National Centre for Education and Training on Addiction, Adelaide.
  3. Parsons, M & Blake, S 2004, Peer support: An overview, Spotlight, National Children’s Bureau. Retrieved June 23, 2009, from