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Culture Inclusive Psychology: The Perspective in Social and Personal Relationship Study in Chinese Cultural Societies

By Sin-Ping Hsu and Kwang-kuo Hwang. Psychology, National Taiwan University, Taipei, Taiwan.

During a person’s lifetime, cultural traditions may operate psychologically through heuristic processing. Accumulated through time and life experiences, these cultural traditions gradually become thoughts or habits that can be used to handle problems by the majority of the people in a society, which forms a cultural mentality unique in comparison to other societies.

Thai_Earplug_5Such cultural mentalities affect how people adapt to their lives, and can be used as a method for self-healing. Since Chinese cultural societies are affected by relationalism, people tend to be very different from their Western counterparts, who take on individualistic ways in dealing with interpersonal problems.

According to Hwang (2011), if a person can use the habitus (Bourdieu, 1990) of normal action to smoothly handle life events under certain social conditions, it is unlikely that they will engage in deep reflection.

However, if habitus cannot be used to resolve a problem, the person will attempt to seek solutions from their personal stock of knowledge or social stock of knowledge. The former include schema, as proposed by Piaget (1977), while the latter are cultural traditions (Shils, 1981). In other words, some cultural traditions are instrumental to problem-solving, and provide the crucial origins for the creation of cognitive schemas. When a person encounters difficulties and a certain method from socCognitive_Schemata_Diagramial stock of knowledge is found to be effective, it may be incorporated into one’s personal stock of knowledge for future application.

In Chinese cultural societies of relationalism, the psychological stresses elicited by interpersonal incidents tend to arise from significant others. For instance, the marital tensions between a couple may not necessarily be caused by themselves, but due to the involvement of their natal families. Therefore, in dealing with interpersonal issues, one cannot overlook significant others and situational contexts. Based on their life experiences, people are accustomed to appeal to yuanfen to convert negative feelings, awkwardness, or setbacks caused by interpersonal incidents, into a type of belief that can be used to combat anxiety. Its true functional mechanism is in embodying the perspective of the mandate of Heaven (Wang, 1987Lee, 1995Yang, 2005Hsu and Hwang, 2013).

These beliefs become practical wisdom or mechanisms of psychological adaptation for handling interpersonal problems. People use yuanfen to interpret the problem, and in turn adopt suitable actions to achieve psychological adjustment. Yuanfen demonstrates that people who live in Chinese cultural societies are accustomed to taking a continuous rather than fragmented perspective toward various interpersonal issues. They believe that the formation and destruction of various relationships may connect the past, present, and future as causes and consequences on the same timeline. This is particularly true for expressive ties that satisfy personal, intrinsic needs for love, warmth, security, and sense of belonging, such as parent-child, romantic, marital, and intimate relationships (Hwang, 2012), and may produce different judgments based on whether such expressive ties are inherent or learned.

In the field of Eastern psychology, guan-xi, a similar concept but not the same as “relationship” in Western psychology, has long been an important issue. However, existing literature has tended to focus on the explicit “guan-xi as it ought to be” rather than on the implicit “guan-xi as it is.

According to Zhai (1993), in Chinese society, there are three localized concepts for interpersonal relationships: personal appeal (ren yuan), human sentiment (renqing), and human relations (renlun). These three concepts correspond, respectively, to psychology, values, and norms, in turn creating an overall framework fochinese-familyr the exploration of interpersonal relationships. This study postulates that human sentiment and human relations correspond to the explicit “guan-xi as it ought to be,” which can satisfy the expectations of Chinese social values and norms, but are also the sources of psychological disturbances.

Since personal appeal corresponds to psychology, and is related to the overall configuration of the model of interpersonal relationships, it should have the most direct impact on psychological adaptation as part of relational interaction. For example, when a person forced to accept a breakup and attribute the failure of the relationship to lack of yuanfen, the relationship has also been framed as something that does not have to be taken seriously. Since there is a lack of yuanfen, the relationship should not be fought for. This interpretation is actually beneficial for psychological adjustment in terms of achieving a positive outcome.

Read more from http://journal.frontiersin.org/article/10.3389/fpsyg.2016.00282/full?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Psychology-w17-2016

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Systems Therapy: Change One Thing, Change Everything

By Pierre Araman

What is Systems Therapy?

Systems therapy aims to help each member of a group gain insight on their role as well as on the role of their peers in order to maximize the healthy functionality of the whole. Systems therapy can be utilized with families, couples, communities, or organizations so as to resolve conflicts and/or other relational issues.

The theory behind Systems Therapy is based on the idea that the environment (in this particular case family and/or community) is primordial for the psychological health and recovery of clients. Changes made to one component of the environment can affect the whole system for the better or for the worse depending on the system.

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A famous branch of Systems therapy is known as Family systems theory which was developed by Dr. Murray Bowen in the late 1960s. In Family systems therapy, participants are encouraged to be themselves in order for the therapist as well as other members of the family to see the cause and effect of certain behaviors. When the negative behaviors have been identified, participants can realize the impacts they may have on the system and modify the negative behaviors into healthy behaviors for the benefit of the entire family as well as for themselves.

Other forms of family therapy branching from Bowen’s Family systems theory and that you may have heard of are: Intergenerational family therapy, Structural family therapy, and Strategic family therapy. If you would like to learn more about these therapies, click on the images below.

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Dr. Murray Bowen developed eight concepts which can be identified and worked on during Family therapy. The concepts are:

  • Emotional Cutoff – When a member distances themselves emotionally/physically from their family in order to reduce stress/tension.
  • Family Projection Process – When parents’ issues are transferred unto the child/children. Common issues are emotional concerns, anxiety, and relationship difficulties.
  • Nuclear Family Emotional Process – Four areas identified by Bowen where families tend to have the most difficulties: problematic behaviors, impaired functionality in children, intimate partner conflict, and emotional distance.
  • Differentiation of Self – Bowen’s core concept – The ability of a person to differentiate themselves from their family in order to achieve their life goals. A low level of differentiation means that the person has difficulties maintaining individuality and can experience emotional fusion with others. A high level of differentiation means that the person can maintain healthy emotional contacts with the group while keeping their individuality.
  • Sibling position – The belief that the youngest, middle, and oldest children have specific roles within the family system due to different factors such as discipline, expectations, etc
  • Emotional Triangle – When anxiety is introduced to a dyad, a third person is used as a resource to reduce the anxiety. It is common for emotional triangle to become unhealthy as two sides are in harmony and one in conflict. An example of an emotional triangle would be a child included in a parental dispute.
  • Societal Emotional Process – When instability is present within the emotional system of society, it can reverberate and have a negative impact on the emotional system of the family (e.g. natural catastrophe, periods of regression, etc).
  • Multigenerational Transmission Process – Bowen’s belief that individuals seek partners with the same level of differentiation which is then passed on to their children. When the level of differentiation is increased, the pattern can be broken and as a result, increase the level of differentiation of the next generations.

screen-shot-2016-11-30-at-10-46-40-amOverall, Family system therapy can be overwhelming although extremely rewarding. Once the system has been reorganized, it benefits the whole. The role of Systems therapist is to identify concepts described above and to modify the unhealthy behaviors into positive and rewarding attitudes. The process can be short or lengthily depending on the resilience of the members of the system.

If you would like to learn more about Systems therapy, here are two research papers on the effectiveness of family and relationship therapy:

 Systems Therapy at Sofia University

If Systems therapy interests you and you would like to learn more and to gain some experience within that field, Sofia University offers the unique experience of participating in group therapy with your cohort as well as covering the different theories in class. Check out our Masters in Counseling Psychology program which incorporates interactive learning through role play, giving you the tools necessary to carry you through different systems therapies such as family therapy, couple therapy, group therapy, and more!

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Is Movement Meditation a productive alternative?

Mindful MovementUnknown.jpeg

Movement meditation is ideal when we feel energetic. Some people are so vigorous or restless that they cannot use sitting meditation; thus, moving meditation is a productive alt
ernative. In some monasteries and retreats, participants alternate between sitting meditation and moving meditation (usually walking meditation) in order to give the physical body some exercise and to release physical tension and stimulate blood circulation.

Read more from http://www.trans4mind.com/jamesharveystout/move-med.htm

Tai_Chi2.jpgWashing the Dishes–Mindfully 

You can also be imaginative. Some people do movement meditations while washing the dishes, or even rhythmically scrubbing the floor or stains out of clothing. Circular movements while polishing a car, or gently stirring a soup can also be other repetitive motions that you can attempt to bring a meditative or focused, calming mental state to. For creative people, simple dance steps, artwork that requires cross-hatching (and repetition in general), or even kneading clay can be ways to incorporate movement meditations into your daily life.

Read more from http://www.wildspeak.com/other/movementmed.html

images.jpegEight-Form Moving Meditation

Dharma Drum’s Eight-Form Moving Meditation is a set of easy-to-learn exercises that can be practiced almost anywhere and at anytime. This system of “meditation through motion” is beneficial to both body and mind, and once acquired through diligent practice, can be performed whether walking, standing, sitting or reclining, so that you are always mindful of being relaxed in body and mind. By practicing the Eight Forms, you will always be composed and at ease, and at every moment enjoy the bliss of meditation and the joy of the Dharma.

Read more from http://chancenter.org/cmc/chan-practice/moving-meditation/

Unknown-1.jpegDance, Walk, Taichi or Do Qigong: Find your Pace 

Meditation can do it all: reduce anxiety and sensitivity to pain, make us smarter, ward off sickness, and prevent stress. If carving out an hour to sit on a cushion doesn’t float your boat, there are many unexpected ways to meditate every day. Get the benefits of meditation by trying out an alternative style from the list below.

  1. Standing Meditation
  2. Walking Meditation
  3. Tai Chi
  4. Qigong
  5. Integrated Amrita Meditation Technique
  6. Dance Meditation
  7. Daily Life Practice Meditation
  8. Hand Movement Meditation
  9. Gazing Meditation
  10. Breathing Meditation

Read more from: http://greatist.com/happiness/unexpected-ways-to-meditate

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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