Chinese-Americans' perception of therapy: A qualitative study




Ng, Kit Seng

Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title



The purpose of this study was to generate data that would help describe the experience and perception of therapy by the Chinese-American clients. The research questions addressed issues related to the length of treatment, the experience of therapy, and the client's expectation of treatment outcomes.

The research sample consisted of 18 adult volunteer subjects who were either permanent residents or citizens of the United States, who were of Chinese descent. Subjects had to be in therapy for no less than 5 visits. Participants were from all over the United States.

Following a pilot study to test the feasibility of such a research study, the applicability of the demographic questionnaire and the interview questions, a qualitative in-depth interview was conducted to generate sufficient data on the perception of the process in therapy. All interviews were audio-taped for coding purposes and assessment reliability. Content analyses were made from the interview for recurring themes and commonalities in the areas on the length of treatment, experience in therapy, and expectation of treatment outcomes.

This study revealed that Chinese clients do seek therapy when they have problems and that the length of treatment was not a primary concern for them. Second, individual and family therapy seemed to have more appeal than group therapy. Third, they experienced therapy as helpful and pleasant. Most would like to come back to therapy or would recommend therapy to peers. Fourth, there is a definite need for therapists to understand the Chinese culture and communicate in Chinese language.

This study recommends that those who plan to work with this ethnic group need to understand their cultural backgrounds and current concerns in this country. Future study is needed to look at the intervention methods that are most effective for this population.



Social sciences, Psychology, Language barriers in therapy