Adapting cognitive behavioral therapy to meet the needs of Chinese clients: Opportunities and challenges

Psych J. 2015 Jun;4(2):55-65. doi: 10.1002/pchj.75. Epub 2014 Dec 3.


With the growing influence of China (Chinese people/culture) on the world's politics, economy, and culture, the psychological wellbeing of Chinese people is becoming increasingly important for both researchers and practitioners. Despite this, the cultural responsiveness of many conventional psychotherapeutic models has often been brought into question. In contrast, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is rapidly becoming one of the most popular approaches in the mental health service industry and has been successfully adapted into many different cultural contexts. The current article is a theoretical discussion of the opportunities and challenges that CBT faces with respect to how it might meet the cultural needs and preferences of Chinese clients. Suggestions for successful cultural adaptation are offered based on existing research and practices. It is concluded that many features of CBT appear to match well with the Chinese cultural perspective. However, despite this promising start further work is needed to focus specifically on its practical effectiveness for Chinese clients.

Keywords: CBT; Chinese culture; counselor education; therapeutic adaptation.

MeSH terms

  • Asian People*
  • China
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy / methods*
  • Cultural Competency*
  • Culture
  • Humans
  • Mental Disorders / ethnology*
  • Mental Disorders / therapy
  • Mental Health Services