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Exploring emotional expression in therapy through the experience of Chinese clients in the United Kingdom

Leung, Karen (2017). Exploring emotional expression in therapy through the experience of Chinese clients in the United Kingdom. (Unpublished Doctoral thesis, City, University of London)


The underutilisation of mental health services within the Chinese population is well known and the low rates of access to these services can be understood by the barriers to accessing psychological help. It has been argued that the Western approaches to treating mental illness are underpinned by Western beliefs and philosophies, which are recognised as culturally unsuitable for individuals for an Eastern culture. In therapy, the facilitation of emotional expression is usually a part of the treatment process, and the expression of inner feelings is usually encouraged by the therapist. However, in the Chinese culture, the expression of intense emotions is associated with negative consequences to their physical and psychological well-being. Therefore, it is interesting to explore how they understand the process of reflecting on their emotions in therapy. This study used a qualitative approach to examine participants’ subjective experience of emotional expression in therapy. A total of seven participants were recruited for the study. Seven semi-structured interviews were conducted and the narratives formed the data, which was then analysed using Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis. Three superordinate themes emerged from the data analysis that highlighted how the participants made sense of their experience in expressing emotions in therapy.

The three key themes were: “challenges to sharing part of me”, “attitudes towards expressing emotions”, and “the therapeutic relationship.” The findings of the study have implications for providing culturally sensitive therapies, particularly with the process of expression of difficult emotions.

Publication Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Departments: School of Health & Psychological Sciences > Psychology
Doctoral Theses
Doctoral Theses > School of Arts and Social Sciences Doctoral Theses
[thumbnail of Leung, Karen_Redacted.pdf] Text - Accepted Version
This document is not freely accessible due to copyright restrictions.


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