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《Acta Psychologica Sinica》 2007-02
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What Confucianism Can Contribute to Psychological Counseling

Jing Huaibin(Center for Public Administration, School of Government, Zhongshan University, Guangzhou 510275, China)  
This paper proposes a new approach to psychological counseling that is based on Confucianism. This proposal is based on two facts: (1) Cultural factors are deeply involved in causing mental problems. (2) Confucianism has been the backbone of Chinese culture and has huge effect on Chinese society. The following nine domains of Confucian thoughts can be applied to psychological counseling: (1) Meaning of life. Confucianism suggests that humans possess some essence which makes them different from other animals. For example, everyone has the potential to be virtuous; some can even reach the stage of sage. It is different from the adherence to Christianity (and thus the conception of God) by Western societies. (2) Stress coping. Confucianism emphasizes that adversity or stressful events could help individuals grow by developing good traits. (3) Life and death education. Life and death are the basic issues in causing mental problems and are thus important in psychological counseling. Confucianism regards life and death as a natural phenomenon. Besides, the immortality of humans lies in the soul but not the body. (4) Grief counseling. In facing the death of the loved ones, Confucianism advocates hui-bu-mie-xing, meaning that one should never harm him/herself even though he/she is in great pain from losing the loved ones. (5) Self regulation. One of the main features of Confucianism is to let humans become a "full person", and by achieving it, one must adopt self-regulation techniques such as introspection, self-examination, meditation, etc. (6) Interpersonal skills. The central principle adopted by Confucianism in dealing with interpersonal matters is zhongshu, meaning that one should understand other people as in the case of understanding oneself. It is a process of "from me to you", which is different from the Western concept of empathy which stresses "from you to you". (7) Social skills. When faced with conflicting interests by different groups of people, Confucianism suggests the principle of zhongyong (Golden Mean or "split the difference"), meaning that one should fully consider the interests of all the parties and come to a solution that is accepted by all. (8) Personality development. In Confucianism, the three characteristics of an ideal virtuous person are benevolence (ren), ritual (li), and intelligence (zhi). If developed fully, they can lead to the ultimate acquisition of ren dao and the recognition of the unexpected and uncontrollable nature of fate (zhiming). (9) Counseling techniques. Confucianism encourages a self-learning approach. The Confucian idea of self-learning could be helpful for develop. Confucianism has been a traditional philosophy. Thus, it is important to consider some methodological issues when trying to incorporate Confucianism into psychological counseling. The paper presented the following possible procedures: First, highlight the important features suggested by the Confucian classics. Second, derive theories concerning psychological counseling based on the Confucian thought. Third, develop the theories into operational techniques. Finally, conduct empirical studies to test the validity and usefulness of the techniques.
【Fund】: 香港大学行为健康研究中心资助;; 中山大学二期"985工程"公共管理与社会发展研究哲学与社会科学创新基地专项基金资助。
【CateGory Index】: B849
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