What are the experiences of obese, Latina therapists: a qualitative study




Carrizales, Sonia

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The purpose of this study was to address the experiences of obese, Latina therapists. Research has not been previously conducted on this population and this particular study adds to the growing need of addressing the experiences of an underrepresented population. Individuals who belong to marginalized populations will likely experience stigma, oppression, and discrimination and this researcher wanted to address three marginalized identities: ethnicity, gender, and body size. As more individuals seek mental health professionals for psychological care, it is also important to address how mental health professionals are experiencing their roles as therapists. Understanding these experiences in relation to their own intersecting identities will help to obtain information so that therapists can provide the best possible therapeutic services to their clients. This study included 11 participants who all identified as obese, Latina therapists. The researcher utilized the six phases of heuristic inquiry: engagement, immersion, incubation, illumination, explication, and creative synthesis (Moustakas, 1990). Depictions were created and themes were found. A blog titled Dances with Fat (Chastain, 2015) was used for triangulation as a way to find similar and different themes from a different data source. Common themes that emerged were pride in identifying as Latinas, pride in identifying as women, shame with obesity, body size affecting clinical work and self-perception, discussion of identity in therapy, and negative experiences with microaggressions. Implications and limitations are discussed.



Social sciences, Psychology, Identity, Latina therapists, Obesity