Optimizing mentoring relationships with persons from historically marginalized communities through the use of difficult dialogues

Michelle R. Madore, Desiree Byrd

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Neuropsychology has struggled to recruit and retain trainees and early career professionals from historically marginalized communities (HMC). One of the primary strategies for retaining these individuals, and ensuring their success, is quality mentorship. Effective mentorship for trainees from HMC requires responsive attention to the unique training experiences that emerge from societal forces, such as structural racism and classism. Although not often discussed with mentors, trainees from these groups experience discrimination at substantial rates, which contributes to dissatisfaction, stress, and ultimately elevated attrition. One strategy to reduce attrition involves developing relational mentorship dynamics to encourage explicit conversations about instances of discrimination during training. However, a barrier to nurturing these types of dynamics is the difference in power and privilege across multiple axes in the dyad. Infusing techniques from the Difficult Dialogues framework offers mentors of HMC trainees a tangible route to reducing the impact of differential power, enhancing relational dynamics, and increasing the likelihood of retention in neuropsychology. The objectives of this manuscript are to elucidate the necessity of understanding one’s power and privilege in the mentorship dyad by understanding barriers experienced by persons from HMC. This manuscript also outlines specific strategies through the lens of the Difficult Dialogues framework to ameliorate the negative impact of unaddressed differentials of power and privilege in the mentoring of training experiences in clinical neuropsychology. Finally, through the use of anonymized case examples, the manuscript offers effective strategies for responsive, professional development of trainees from HMC to facilitate supportive neuropsychological training experiences.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)441-449
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Clinical and Experimental Neuropsychology
Issue number5-6
StatePublished - 2022
Externally publishedYes


  • Mentoring
  • difficult dialogues
  • historically marginalized communities


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