Daoism and Confucianism-based psychotherapies in China

Start - End 
2019 - 2019 (ongoing)



As a consequence of the deteriorating mental health situation, there is a growing interest in psychotherapies and counseling in China. Following the global indigenization movement starting in the early 1980s, nowadays indigenous Chinese psychology is gaining popularity, not only as a research subject, but also in therapeutic contexts. Indigenous psychology refers to a global intellectual movement to resist the hegemony of Western psychology in representation of the human mind, and in investigation of local mentality (Sundararajan 2016). Chinese indigenous psychologists not only base themselves on the rich traditional reflexive discourses on the psyche and on how to be(come) human (zuoren 做人) as found in Daoism and Confucianism, but also seek parallels between these traditions and Western psychology. Newly emerged psychotherapies often hybridize the traditional precepts with Western knowledge and healing practices. This project will address often still very marginal – counselling practices and psychotherapies rooted in Confucianism (the Yu Dan project) and Daoism (e.g. Zhuangzi’s fasting of the heart-mind xinzhai 心斋). Analysis is based on academic discussions on the subject, on interviews with practitioners, and if possible on case studies. The project also engages with critical reflections on the psychologization of ancient philosophy as a new type of intervention.