English, Department of


First Advisor

Rachel Azima

Second Advisor

Shari Stenberg

Third Advisor

Rachael Shah

Date of this Version

Spring 4-2021

Document Type



Harris, Nora. Supporting Emotion Work in the Writing Center: Harnessing Shared Investments Between Consultants and Therapeutic Counselors. MA Thesis. University of Nebraska-Lincoln, 2021.


A THESIS Presented to the Faculty of The Graduate College at the University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of Requirements For the Degree of Master of Arts, Major: English, Under the Supervision of Professor Rachel Azima and Professor Shari Stenberg. Lincoln, Nebraska: April 2021

Copyright © 2021 Nora Harris


Because of the affective nature of writing pedagogy, writing center consultants regularly perform emotional labor to navigate writers’ emotions as well as their own. This labor is deeply generative in writers’ development. But it also takes an intellectual and emotional toll on writing consultants that often goes unnoticed and therefore undervalued and unsupported. The first step toward properly valuing consultants’ emotional labor is to name the ways it manifests in writing center work. In this thesis, I present a study in which I analyze writing consultants’ narratives of their emotional labor and start to map out the emotional dimensions of their work. With that knowledge, we can begin to craft more comprehensive training and ongoing support for consultant emotional labor and look to fields like counseling psychology, for which emotion is explicitly fundamental, for guidance. I begin to leverage the connection between these two fields by interviewing counselors-in-training about their practice of emotional labor and reviewing literature in counseling psychology on work with emotion.

I begin by reviewing literature in both of these fields that addresses the role emotion plays in their work. Then, I present theories of emotional labor and the working definition of that concept that guides my study. My interviews with writing consultants and training psychological counselors will then illustrate the forms consultant emotional labor takes and highlight the possibilities that counseling psychology offers for further training to support consultants’ work with emotion.

Advisor: Rachel Azima and Shari Stenberg