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Work of the Heart and the Mind: Authenticity of Self in Psychotherapy

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Title: Work of the Heart and the Mind: Authenticity of Self in Psychotherapy
Author: Wong, Madrianne
Advisor: Nadkarni, Maya
Department: Swarthmore College. Dept. of Sociology & Anthropology
Type: Thesis (B.A.)
Issue Date: 2011
Abstract: This thesis examines psychotherapists’ emotional regulation and conceptions of authenticity in their work and personal lives. Psychotherapy complicates emotion work as previously studied, by adding additional layers of an intimate, long-term therapeutic relationship and the necessary development of trust to enable patient healing. Rather than managerial-enforced regulation of workers’ emotion, therapists shape their own emotional guidelines and professional selves. My interviews with five psychotherapists reveal their conceptualizations of these selves and their different definitions of authenticity in the workplace. I find that an important part of professional agency for therapists is their individually constructed work/personal boundary, a protective layer for their well-being in and out of work. Their conceptions of authenticity of self at work break down the distinction between work and personal realms. Stronger conceptions of authentic selves in the office result in more post-work suffering. The more removed therapists’ “personal selves” from the workplace, therefore, the safer their emotional well-being.
Subject: Counselor and client
Subject: Psychotherapists -- Professional relationships
Subject: Self
Terms of Use: Full copyright to this work is retained by the student author. This work has not been published and access is restricted to members of the Swarthmore College community. It may only be used for non-commercial, research and educational purposes at Swarthmore College. All other uses are restricted.
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Wong, Madrianne. "Work of the Heart and the Mind: Authenticity of Self in Psychotherapy". 2011. Available electronically from

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