Making sense of psychological health and wellbeing in contemporary China: An IPA study of Clinical Psychology Students

Billy Lee

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review


Objectives: Rapid changes in China after the ‘open door policy’ indicate a need to understand the nature of distress and wellbeing in new generations (Chang, Tong, Shi & Zeng, 2005). Design: Transcripts of interviews with postgraduate clinical psychology students who had begun their clinical placements were subjected to a qualitative analysis that focused on their understandings of psychological health, wellbeing and distress in modern China. Method: Eleven students were interviewed about their understanding of their own psychological distress and wellbeing, that of their family and acquaintances, and their understanding of the psychological situation in China. Phenomenological interviewing principles were employed in order to attempt to elicit concrete, experience-near accounts. The method of Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA) was used to make sense of the transcripts, attending to the interplay between giving voice to and making sense of the participants’ experiences (Smith, Flowers & Larkin, 2009). Results: Four principal themes captured the students’ understandings: 1. Strict criteria; 2. Emotion expression; 3. Individuation; 4. Gender issues. Conclusion: The massive increase in migration and free movement for labour, commerce and education, both within and across national borders has meant that many young Chinese are re-evaluating traditional Confucian values against their own aspirations and understandings in a global world. Distinctive themes for the participants of the study including: the inner life, collective self, pragma, and filial piety contribute to contemporary understandings of the psychological situation of China and of young Chinese in cultural transition.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages1
Publication statusPublished - 2017
EventThe British Psychological Society’s Annual Conference - Brighton, United Kingdom
Duration: 3 May 20175 May 2017


ConferenceThe British Psychological Society’s Annual Conference
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom


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