Skip to content. | Skip to navigation

Donate portlet right size

Video - 50 Miles lg

          2008 Video

New Video button

Darcy tedx button
Instagram correct color
FBook Icon


Blog Icon


YTube Icon



You are here: Home Resources E-Newsletter Archive Spring 2016, Issue XIV A Return to Mentoring Youth

A Return to Mentoring Youth

Professional Transformative Coach, Andrew Tree, explores the questions that are most alive for him as he steps back into a position of youth mentorship after several years of primarily working with adults.

by Andrew Tree

I recently returned to mentoring with the nonprofit Boys to Men project,, after a hiatus of a few years. Boys to Men has semi-autonomous centers scattered across North America and Europe and offer Rites of Passage weekends and community-based group mentoring to teenage boys. At the core of the mentoring approach are aspirational guidelines as to what to do and not do. “Do’s” are Listen, Accept, Admire, Model and Bless. “Do not’s” are Fix, Rescue, Advise, Process and Project.

I trace my impulse to mentor to the consequences of a childhood spent coping with a parent with mental health challenges. That legacy, of hyper-vigilance, emotional disconnection and numbing — and how it impacted my early adult life in a deep distrust of intimate relationships and a crippling lack of self-confidence and self-worth — became my motivation, initially to heal myself, then to bring that learning to help others.

A crucial piece was coming upon the Mankind Project (MKP). Arising out of the Men’s movement of the ‘80s, MKP offers a Rite of Passage weekend for men, with the intention that initiated men should identify and commit to a mission of service, supported by a local men’s group.

During my break from Boys to Men, I returned to school to earn my Professional Life Coach credentials with a leading-edge Seattle training organization, Invite Change. Life coaching is about enabling clients to make critical changes and achieve tangible outcomes in important areas of their lives. The exploration of issues frequently brings to light the unconscious beliefs, patterns of behavior, and powerful critical, sabotaging, internal “voices” that derail the best of intentions. With that awareness comes new possibilities for taking steps in the pursuit of objectives.

Stepping back into the Boys to Men project, I was curious to discover if this coaching approach could be effective with 16-18 year olds — especially having absorbed some widely held beliefs that this age group would be too emotionally immature.

The critical, and I believe initiatory, aspect of this approach, is the awakening of the innate ability to self-reflect. This invitation to (self) conscious awareness opens up the possibility of making choices that are aligned with the authentic self. This can significantly reduce the influence of, and dependence on, outside sources of advice and instruction, and is a key component in the transition to adult maturity.

As mentor, this awakening can be enabled through empathic curiosity, asking questions that engage heart and enteric (gut) “brains”, rather than head brain, inviting the innate wisdom of the higher Self through the “feeling” body, intuition, imagery and instinct.

This mentoring environment is challenging: 10-12 boys and 2-3 mentors, with perhaps only a few minutes to focus on each boy, far removed from the undisturbed privacy of a coaching conversation. My experience though, in these early, early days, is how responsive most of the boys are — observable in how deeply they engage with the questions and find their own course of action, and often, too, in the enlivening effect on their body language. Certainly I am encouraged to remain curious and keep trying new ways!

Andrew Tree is a Professional Transformative Coach at

Document Actions
Personal tools
powered by Plone | site by Groundwire Consulting and served with clean energy