Date of Award

6-2004

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Department

Counselor Education and Counseling Psychology

First Advisor

Dr. Gary Bischof

Second Advisor

Dr. Mary Z. Anderson

Third Advisor

Dr. Jianping Shen

Abstract

Mental health professionals work in emotionally demanding environments when they work with clients who have emotional problems and interpersonal conflicts. Self-care and managing family and work responsibilities are concerns of great importance for mental health professionals to maintain quality in their services. This is of special concern for Asian female counselors who play important supportive roles for their families. As a result, Asian female counselorsnot only work with clients but also assume heavy family responsibilities, yet there is a dearth of literature on this specific group (Leong, 2002; Saso, 1999; Lee, 1998).

This qualitative study using grounded theory methods explored the experiences of Taiwanese female counselors who assumed dual responsibilities for theirwork and families. It described their attempts to manage their work and family roles and the results of such attempts. Semi-structured, in-depth interviews were conducted with ten Taiwanese female counselors from various life cycle stages who worked in a variety of professional counseling settings.

The findings of this study described Taiwanese female counselors fulfilling multiple roles at work and in their families while they tried to fulfill their own and others' expectations. Key benefits of managing these multiple roles included a wider range of experiences, development of better time management skills, and increased self-awareness. Challenges identified by the participants of managing multiple roles outweighed the benefits and included work overload, lack ofadequate time, fatigue, trying to play these multiple roles well, and transitioning from one stage of the life cycle to the next. Strategies that the Taiwanese female counselors found helpful were such things as being sensitive to their own needs, resting, engaging in leisure activities, getting together with friends, and finding private space and time for themselves. They identified support they received from various sources, primarily their families and female friends, and also offered recommendations for other female counselors.

The findings were discussed in light of feminist theory, as well as of the social transition Taiwan is undergoing that affects family structure and women'sroles. Recommendations for further research and suggestions for policy changes, particularly for women in the workplace in Taiwan, were also offered.

Access Setting

Dissertation-Open Access

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