Using relational dialectics theory, this study examined mentoring approaches and dialectical tensions that occur in mentoring relationships in the field of sign language interpreting. The traditional function of a mentor is to provide guidance or support to someone who has less experience than themselves. This study focuses on a deeper understanding of the dynamics of mentoring relationships in the field of sign language interpreting. Using a qualitative approach, I conducted semi-structured interviews with sign language interpreters who have been in the role of mentor and mentee. The results, based on interviews with mentors and mentees, show that mentors and mentees prefer the friendship, nurturing, and apprenticeship model of mentorship. This study identified four tensions that impact mentoring relationships within the field of sign language interpreting: structure vs. flexibility, personal vs. professional, openness-to vs. closedness-to, and openness-with vs. closedness-with. Additionally, mentors and mentees noted that trust, commitment, and openness were key to the mentoring relationships. Results from this study support the notion that dialectical tensions and mismatch of mentoring style can have a negative impact on the mentorship and at times lead to termination of the relationship.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Interpreters for the deaf--Training of; Mentoring; Interpersonal communication; Dialectic

Publication Date


Document Type


Student Type


Degree Name

Communication and Media Technologies (MS)

Department, Program, or Center

School of Communication (CLA)


Ammina Kothari

Advisor/Committee Member

Samantha Moore

Advisor/Committee Member

Richard Peterson


RIT – Main Campus

Plan Codes