Leslie Benson is a 2011 MSW Candidate at the NYU Silver School of Social Work. She is also a tireless volunteer for eating disorders conferences such as NEDA and Renfrew, and for MentorCONNECT as a volunteer mentor, support group leader, and research assistant.
Leslie’s experiences with mentoring, combined with her clinical training and education, has produced a voice of wisdom, compassion, and expertise far beyond her years. We are honored to host her here on “Mentoring & Recovery” to share her mentoring experiences!
Tell us about your own experiences being mentored and how it helped you in your recovery.
My mentor came to me very unexpectedly, but in retrospect, it was exactly what I needed to get over a big hump in my recovery. At the time I was struggling with discovering who I was without ED. My mentor’s confidence in me helped me build confidence in myself, which until then I didn’t have. Slowly, with constant encouragement and positive reinforcement from my mentor, I was able to rebuild my sense of self, rediscover my strengths and interests, and use them to build a life without ED.
You are now serving as a mentor yourself in many ways. Why did you want to serve as a mentor, and what do you enjoy most about mentoring?
I wanted to serve as a mentor to provide a sense of hope for those who feel hopeless. I believe that individuals with ED are extremely amazing and unique individuals and the world needs them to recover. Mentoring gives me the opportunity to meet extremely amazing people and believe in them when they don’t believe in themselves. Mentoring gives me hope because it reconnects me with my own struggle and reaffirms that recovery is possible and more than 100% worth it.
As a mentor, what is the most important message you want your mentees to remember?
They will be loved without ED. The can strive in the world without ED. ED is hindering them from their purpose.
What advice would you give to someone who is searching for a mentor to help them through their recovery?
You cannot recover alone.
What advice would you give to someone who is interested in serving as a mentor to others?
People need you to believe in them and feel accepted, just as they are, without ED. You do not need to be an expert. You just need to believe in them and accept them.
As a part of your MSW candidacy, you are currently assisting MentorCONNECT’s Scientific & Advisory Board with a research effort to evaluate mentoring as a recovery tool. Can you tell us a bit about your involvement and why you are interested in pursuing research in this emerging area of eating disorder treatment?
I’m very interested in understanding why some people elect to have a recovery mentor so I’m analyzing the differences between our general support members and our mentee members. I’m a big believer in Shannon’s mantra “relationships replace eating disorders” and I want to empirically support that statement.
Thanks again Leslie for sharing such inspiring and encouraging words for mentors and mentees – we are all inspired by your message that recovery IS possible and recovery support IS available!