Theses Bachelor's

“At What Cost?”: Women of Color Therapists and Emotional Labor

Siddique, Rania

This thesis uses a combination of theoretical frameworks and qualitative interviews to understand the question: How do women of color therapists perform, experience, and negotiate emotional labor inside and outside of work? Theoretical frameworks include sociologist Arlie Hochschild’s literature on emotional labor, feminist economist Nancy Folbre’s work surrounding the care work industry, as well as the work of other researchers who focus on intersections between emotional labor and race. It is of note that there is little to no literature exploring the intersections between emotional labor, race, and mental health professions including therapy. The aim of this thesis is to begin to fill this gap by interviewing women of color therapists and gaining insight into how they engage with emotional labor. The results of the interviews show many common themes among the interviewees, including similar experiences with expectations to perform emotional labor due to their identities as women of color and as therapists, feelings of exhaustion/burnout, experiences with regulating emotions during therapy sessions, and experiences with setting and maintaining boundaries both inside and outside of the therapeutic space. Viewing the interview results of this thesis in conjunction with prevailing literature surrounding emotional labor, we come to understand that women of color therapists perform and experience a unique form of emotional labor that is marked by their relationships with identity as well as their maintenance of boundaries.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Women's, Gender and Sexuality Studies (Barnard College)
Economics (Barnard College)
Thesis Advisors
Pittman, Alexander
B.A., Barnard College
Published Here
May 14, 2018