Emotional labour in fieldworkers in a community mental health organisation: a thematic analysis

Bondarenko, Yulia
du Preez, Elizabeth
Shepherd, Daniel
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Master of Health Science
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Auckland University of Technology

In this project emotional labour in fieldworkers at a community mental health organisation has been explored using thematic analysis. Six fieldworkers from the organisation participated in one group and one face-to-face interview each. Exploration of fieldworkers’ narratives yielded five themes: (i) Work context and fieldworker role; (ii) Experience of face-to-face work that included two subthemes, (a) Emotions and their displays with clients and (b) Controlling emotions, managing with clients and setting boundaries; (iii) Experience of other aspects of work; (iv) Areas of impact on client work; (v) Impact of work on fieldworkers. When interacting with clients fieldworkers were found to regulate their emotions both in terms of experience and display. Emotions were regulated through deep acting to enhance the internal experience of empathy and other positive emotions and the control of negative emotions, the display of which was seen as detrimental for clients. Fieldworkers also regulated the intensity of genuinely occurring emotions that were present during most of their interactions with clients. Emotional labour was viewed to be performed for the sake of clients. The impact of emotional labour was found to result from the workload and the multiple aspects of fieldworkers’ role. Several factors were also found to impact on the emotional labour itself. Limitations of the current study and implications for future research are discussed.

Emotional labour , Field workers
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