Date of Award


Document Type

Thesis - Open Access

Degree Name

MA in Child Development


Child Development Graduate Program


This thesis explores empathy within interpersonal relationships at a social service organization. I conducted a research study to explore theoretical concepts and individuals’ experiences of these concepts in their work setting at a social service agency in New York City. I conducted observations and interviews through a lens of ecological systems theory and the relationalcultural approach. In this paper I review guiding concepts of empathy, attunement, and compassion fatigue, as well as the Sanctuary model. I share first-person accounts from interviews conducted during the research study to explicate individuals’ experiences related to the above concepts in their own words. I then provide concluding notes and ideas for change based on the data and my experience as a researcher.