The Worldviews of Healing Traditions in the East and West: Implications for Psychology of Religion

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This article will compare the worldviews of psychotherapy traditions in Eastern and Western culture, particularly the therapeutic factors and principles indigenous to the Chinese culture. The author will first define the meaning of culture and psychotherapy from a postmodern anthropological approach. By referring to history and literature in the study of cultural psychology, a comparison will be made between the value systems lying behind therapeutic methods used in the East and West. This includes the worldviews on the body and mind, the self, mental health, relationship, community, healing, and spirituality. Lastly, a famous Chinese legend will be used as an example to illustrate how worldview differences between the East and West determine the goals and process of psychotherapy. It is hoped that psychology of religion would be sensitive to the underlying worldviews across different cultures, without imposing its definition of "mental health" and method of "healing," as different religions embody different cultural traditions as well. It is argued that whether spirituality or religion is helpful to the wellbeing of local people, it should be defined by the local persons and expressed in their mother tongue. Hence a psychology of religion for Chinese people should respect its customs of healing and particular set of worldviews.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)759-782
Number of pages24
JournalPastoral Psychology
Issue number5-6
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • Chinese
  • Psychology of religion
  • Therapy
  • Worldview

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