By Brant Cortright September 8, 2015
Going to Beijing, China, to teach a three-day workshop to Chinese psychotherapists and then give the keynote address to the 9th Annual Congress of Chinese Psychologists was a mind-expanding experience. I loved China and the people I met. I found them to be warm, friendly, and eager to engage in how East and West can learn from each other and have important things to share with the world.
The participants in my workshop came to learn about transpersonal and integral psychology. Psychology is new in China. Psychology entered China about 2005, and before that all psychology was Marxism. It is analogous to Russia. Psychology entered Russia in 1990 with the fall of the USSR, and before that, psychology professors were Marxist philosophy professors.
There are advantages to psychology entering a country later, after it has developed more fully. In the United States, for example, the dominance of behaviorism, psychoanalysis and then the various humanistic and existential schools of psychology made for very little room for innovations such as transpersonal psychology.
However, in Russia all these different schools entered at the same time on a level playing field. As a consequence transpersonal psychology is now extremely influential in Russia, with a major department at Moscow University, for example.
China is also experiencing a new openness, and I found the Chinese extremely open to and hungry for a spiritual approach to psychology, especially transpersonal and integral psychology that can connect with the Buddhist, Taoist, and Confucian roots of Chinese culture.
Chinese culture has long had a deep focus on relationships, which is precisely what psychology puts under the microscope, so China is a natural country in which psychology can grow and flower.