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As stress grows, modern Chinese turn to Western psychotherapy – International Herald Tribune

October 21, 2008

Those of us who live in the West have stereotyped those from the East as being serene and steeped in ancient wisdom. As East and West draw closer, and interact more, this stereotype may prove to be outdated. It seems that some Western wisdom (depth psychology) may be making inroads in the East. 

In the past 30 years, Chinas Communist system of government-assigned jobs and apartments has become a capitalist free-for-all, with cutthroat competition for education and work and a widening gap between rich and poor. To cope with the stress, some people are turning to a Western tool: psychotherapy.

This is a radical shift in a nation where focus on the individual was discouraged by both socialist ideology and traditional culture.

“There are great changes happening in Chinese society, and people are more open and pay more attention to their inner mind,” says Zheng Yu, a therapist in Chengdu, about 1,500 kilometers, or 930 miles, southwest of Beijing.

Job pressures may be a contributing factor. Fifty-one percent of Chinese respondents to a survey by Hudson Highland Group reported higher work stress than a year ago. It is the second consecutive year in which China has registered the highest stress levels in Asia, the recruitment firm, based in New York, said in a report in October.

“When some people get rich, they say, ‘I’m successful, but I’m still unhappy,”‘ said Kathy Li, 37, who quit working in media in 2005 to start her own counseling business in Beijing. “People are realizing more and more what can make them happy is not from the outside world but from the inside.”

via As stress grows, modern Chinese turn to Western psychotherapy – International Herald Tribune


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